Mostly Monday Reads

Cossack Mamay is tempted to drink by the Polish-looking Satan, Ukrainian folk art,

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There’s actually a lot of good news today!  Above all,  there is excellent news from the Ukrainian front that Russia is being driven back.  There are even calls now for Putin to step down! I’ll get to that in a moment, but I couldn’t resist putting this headline from The Times of London first. I love the “snub for Trump” in the lede.  So much for Trump’s lie about a secret knighthood.  They weren’t expecting President Biden, so now there’s a scramble to prepare for his visit..

I’m going to post Ukrainian art today from the various museums.  We know that the Russians targeted all types of cultural locations and that many folk art items were lost in the bombings.  It will likely be a while before we discover which great works remain.

Meanwhile,

Слава Україні!  (Romanized: Sláva Ukrayíni!)

ILYA KABAKOV, THE FLYING KOMAROV.1994

 

I hope this is embarrassing for Trump, who was the ultimate clod during his visit with the late Queen Elizabeth.

Westminster Abbey is expected to be so full that only one representative from each country can attend, although they can be joined by a partner.

Questions have been asked in the US over whether Donald Trump will be invited but British sources have scotched the idea that he could accompany the US delegation and said there would not be space for Biden’s predecessors. Dwight Eisenhower, then the former president, attended Churchill’s funeral a private capacity.

A reception for overseas leaders will take place at Buckingham Place on the eve of the service, but no meetings will be allowed because of the strain on security teams, according to the Foreign Office

One more thing about Trump, and I’ll celebrate the victories of Ukraine.  This is from CNN, which I’m probably going to quit quoting because the news channel is becoming an unreliable source soon due to changes in Top Management.  “Exclusive: ‘I’m just not going to leave’: New book reveals Trump vowed to stay in White House.”   This is about Maggie Haberman’s new tell-all, as reported by Jeremy Herb.

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly told aides in the days following his 2020 election loss that he would remain in the White House rather than let incoming President Joe Biden take over, according to reporting provided to CNN from a forthcoming book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

“I’m just not going to leave,” Trump told one aide, according to Haberman.

“We’re never leaving,” Trump told another. “How can you leave when you won an election?”

Trump’s insistence that he would not be leaving the White House, which has not been previously reported, adds new detail to the chaotic post-election period in which Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat and numerous efforts to overturn the election result led to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

Ilya Kabakov, “10 characters”, album no. 6 “The Flying Mosquito” (1994)

The man is so narcissistic he’s delusional.  Let’s switch topics now!

Today’s New York Times has this headline: “Russia’s Retreat in Ukraine Pokes Holes in Putin’s Projection of Force. Russia’s military setbacks may be weakening President Vladimir V. Putin’s reputation at home as a savvy geopolitical strategist.”  Ah, tales of yet another delusional narcissist.

Ukraine’s rout of Russian forces this weekend is creating a new kind of political challenge for President Vladimir V. Putin: It undercuts the image of competence and might that he has worked for two decades to build.

On Sunday, the Russian military continued to retreat from positions in northeastern Ukraine that it had occupied for months. State television news reports referred to the retreat as a carefully planned “regrouping operation,” praising the heroism and professionalism of Russian troops.

But the upbeat message did little to dampen the anger among supporters of the war over the retreat and the Kremlin’s handling of it. And it hardly obscured the bind that Mr. Putin now finds himself in, presiding over a six-month war against an increasingly energized enemy and a Russian populace that does not appear to be prepared for the sacrifices that could come with an escalating conflict.

“Strength is the only source of Putin’s legitimacy,” Abbas Gallyamov, a former speechwriter for Mr. Putin who is now a political consultant living in Israel, said in a phone interview. “And in a situation in which it turns out that he has no strength, his legitimacy will start dropping toward zero.”

Putin is now facing internal dissent.  This is something that would be unimaginable before the Invasion of Ukraine.  From The Hill link above: “Russian municipal deputies call for Putin’s resignation.” 

More than 30 Russian municipal deputies have signed a petition calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resignation.

The petition, posted by Xenia Torstrem, a deputy in St. Petersburg’s Semyonovsky District, was originally signed by 19 officials.

“We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of President Vladimir Putin harm the future of Russia and its citizens,” a translation of the petition reads. “We demand the resignation of Vladimir Putin from the post of President of the Russian Federation!”

The petition comes as the Ukrainian military pursues a counteroffensive, quickly reclaiming territory and pushing Russian troops back to the northeastern border in some places.

The push’s initial gains have provoked some criticisms of Putin inside the country, a rare rebuke of Russia’s longtime leader who over the years has sought to stifle opposition.

This reporting from The Washington Post is breathtaking.

In the end, the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals. Hours after Ukrainian soldiers poured into the area, hundreds of Russian soldiers encamped in this village were gone, many after their units abandoned them, leaving behind stunned residents to face the ruins of 28 weeks of occupation.

“They just dropped rifles on the ground,” Olena Matvienko said Sunday as she stood, still disoriented, in a village littered with ammo crates and torched vehicles, including a Russian tank loaded on a flatbed. The first investigators from Kharkiv had just pulled in to collect the bodies of civilians shot by Russians, some that have been lying exposed for months.

“I can’t believe that we went through something like this in the 21st century,” Matvienko said, tears welling.

The Threat of War (1986).” Art by Maria Prymachenko, This painting was destroyed in a Russian bombing.

While the Ukrainians struggle to hold on to their democracy, we appear to have about 1/3 of the population that are “democracy deniers.”  This is according to a poll by Axios.  The results are stomach-churning.   Axios refers to this poll as the Two Americas Index.

About one in three Americans prefers strong unelected leaders to weak elected leaders and says presidents should be able to remove judges over their decisions, according to the latest findings from our Axios-Ipsos Two Americas Index.

Why it matters: The findings from this poll shatter the myth that Americans overwhelmingly agree on a common set of democratic values around checks and balances on elected leaders, protection of minority rights and freedom of speech.

  • They’re also a reality check against President Biden’s speech that portrayed threats to democracy as solely driven by Republican supporters of former President Trump who refuse to accept that he lost the 2020 election.

What we’re watching: In this poll, significant minorities of Republicans and Democrats supported non-democratic norms in about equal percentages — and Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say presidents should be able to remove judges when their decisions go against the national interest.

  • Many Americans also believe the government should follow the will of the majority even at the expense of ethnic and religious minority groups’ civil rights.
  • And roughly a third said the federal government should be able to prosecute members of the news media who make offensive or unpatriotic statements.
  • Respondents younger than 35 or with household incomes below $75,000 a year were more likely to favor strong unelected leaders and to support prosecuting the media or empowering presidents to remove judges.

The big picture: If you’re looking for good news in this poll, it is primarily that the people who embrace the anti-democratic views are still in the minority.

  • But the findings are a reminder that for all of the attention and congressional hearings around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, anti-democratic views take many forms.

What they’re saying: “There’s a lot of anti-democratic sentiment, a lot more than we might have expected,” said Justin Gest, an associate professor at George Mason University who studies the politics of demographic change and advises the project.

  • The survey’s questions pose “hard tests” for society, Gest said — tradeoffs between “what’s expedient and best for the individual, and what actually sustains the integrity of our political institutions.”

  • Values like minority rights, separation of church and state and freedom of the press are “key foundations” of democracy but “they’re far from being fully supported by Americans,” Gest said. “These are things you’d think would be universal.”

You may read more analysis at the link.

One last bit of Trump weirdness.  Yesterday, Trump was seen deplaning from a private plane in Washington, D.C.”  The guessing game as to why he was there is on.

Conspiracy Update?

 

 

Have a great week! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: A bit of this and that!

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

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

“Complementary Yellow Twin Sisters,” unknown artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terrace in Balcic, Nutzi Acontz, 1930

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anxiety, Edvard Munch,1894

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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


Friday Reads: SCOTUS Runs Amok, Congress Vacations, and the Trump Mob got the Blues

Happy Friday!

We’re closing in on Independence Day!  I’m sure the six signers of the Declaration of Independence that led to me being here sure wouldn’t be happy with the mess we’re in today. None of the nation’s three branches of government is fairing well in today’s polls either.  A new Emerson Poll is out and Americans are clearly not happy or trustful of any of the branches.

The latest Emerson College Polling national survey of US voters finds a majority disapprove of President Biden, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Biden has a 40% job approval, while 53% disapprove of the job he is doing as president. Since last month, Biden’s approval has increased two points. The US Congress has a 19% job approval, while 70% disapprove of the job they are doing. The Supreme Court has a 36% job approval; 54% disapprove.

Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling said, “Independent voters align more with Democrats on Supreme Court approval: 71% of Democrats and 58% of Independents disapprove of the job that the Supreme Court is doing whereas a majority, 56%, of Republicans approve of the job they are doing.”

In the 2022 November Midterm Elections, 46% of voters plan to vote for the Republican congressional candidate on the ballot while 43% plan to support the Democratic congressional candidate. This congressional ballot test has remained relatively stagnant since last month’s national poll, where Republicans also led by three points on the congressional ballot, 45% to 42%.

Looking at 2024, 64% of Democratic primary or caucus voters think President Biden should be the Democratic nominee for president, while 36% think he should not be. In the 2024 Republican Primary, 55% of voters would support former President Trump, 20% Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and 9% former Vice President Mike Pence. No other potential GOP candidate clears 5%.

In a hypothetical 2024 Presidential Election matchup between President Biden and former President Trump, Trump holds 44% support while Biden has 39% support; 12% would vote for someone else and 5% are undecided. “Since last month, Trump has held his share of support while Biden’s support has reduced four points.”

The Trump family crime syndicate certainly is a cult.  Let’s hope we don’t get a repeat where the left just boycotts our democracy because they can’t get their way.  The desire to see Roe as national law is strong everywhere but in the White Christian Nationalist party.

Following the Supreme Court decision to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which leaves abortion legality up to the states, 59% of voters think that Congress should pass a law legalizing the right to abortion. Among women, support for the legislation is higher: 62% think Congress should pass a law legalizing the right to abortion compared to 55% of men.

“While a majority, 65%, of Republicans oppose Congress passing a law to legalize the right to abortion, the policy has majority support among Democrats and Independent voters, 81% of Democratic voters and 58% of Independent voters support federal legislative action to legalize abortion,” Kimball said.

Congressional legalization of the right to abortion has the highest support among 18-29 year olds: 76% support a federal legalization of abortion, compared to 59% of 30-49 year olds, 50% of 50-64 year olds, and 56% of those over 65.

A majority, 57%, say that they or someone that they’ve known have had an abortion. Among those who have had or know someone who has had an abortion, 62% think Congress should pass a law legalizing the right to abortion.

There are also some numbers on the impact of the public hearings held by the January 6th committee.

The January 6th hearings have had a split impact on voters’ intention to vote for Donald Trump in 2024 if he were to run: 35% say it makes them less likely, 32% say it makes them more likely, 28% say it makes no difference.

Kimball noted, “Half of Republicans say they are more likely to vote for Trump following the January 6th hearings, while a plurality, 38%, of Independents say they are less likely to support Trump if he runs in 2024. More specifically, among those who voted for Trump in 2020,  nine percent say they are less likely to vote for him again in 2024 after the hearings.”

Kimball continued, “The January 6th hearings reflect an educational divide, regarding their impact on Trump support: those with a college degree or less are about 33% less likely to vote for Trump because of the hearings, whereas 51% of those with a postgraduate degree are less likely to support Trump because of the hearings.”

Yes, Trump loves him some undereducated people.  There are also some numbers on the economy–which is labeled the most important issue by the majority of voters–and gun regulation.

In other polling news,  Reproductive and Women’s rights are moving quickly up the priority scale. It’s hard to see that we will get anything done without some new blood in the senate.

A new poll finds a growing percentage of Americans calling out abortion or women’s rights as priorities for the government in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, especially among Democrats and those who support abortion access.

With midterm elections looming, President Joe Biden and Democrats will seek to capitalize on that shift.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in remarks immediately after the decision that “reproductive freedom is on the ballot in November.” But with pervasive pessimism and a myriad of crises facing the nation, it’s not clear whether the ruling will break through to motivate those voters — or just disappoint them.

Everyone is still reeling from the number of extremely radical opinions forced on us by a group of White Nationalist Christians on the Supreme Court.

Well, that’s a nice statement. Now, DO SOMETHING!

From Hayes Brown writing at MSNBC: “Congress has let the Supreme Court run amok. The founders would be baffled by a judiciary that Congress can’t — or won’t — balance.”

The Supreme Court ended its term Thursday having produced a string of decisions that with casual brutality threatened Americans’ privacy, health and well-being. Democrats, in the face of this assault on the rights and privileges of their constituents, haven’t responded with the necessary anger or urgency.

The framers intended Congress to be the most powerful of the three branches of government, consisting of representatives of the people and the states. The executive was to be feared and constrained; the judiciary was, in comparison, an afterthought mostly left to future Congresses to craft. In drafting the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton considered the courts the “least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution.”

What we’ve seen this term is a court determined to prove Hamilton wrong. While Congress has the ability to curtail the authority that the unbalanced, undemocratic courts have accumulated, there seems to be almost no drive among Democrats to even challenge the third branch.

Let me clarify that I do not propose invalidating the principle of judicial review, whereby the courts have the authority to block and overturn legislative and executive actions. The Supreme Court’s function as arbiter of the Constitution is an important and needed one, given the possible abuses from the other branches.

It’s a power that is more easily used to strike down than to build. As Vox’s Ian Milhiser has noted, while the court can’t establish an agency to protect the rights of citizens, it can absolutely erase one out of existence.

Here’s some historical reference from Ian Milhiser at Vox: “The case against the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, the dead hand of the Confederacy, and now is one of the chief architects of America’s democratic decline.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s public approval ratings are in free fall. A Gallup poll taken in June before the Court’s decision in Dobbs found that only 25 percent of respondents have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Court, a historic low. And that’s after nearly a year’s worth of polls showing the Court’s approval in steady decline.

To thisI say, “good.” The Dobbs decision is the culmination of a decades-long effort by Republicans to capture the Supreme Court and use it, not just to undercut abortion rights but also to implement an unpopular agenda they cannot implement through the democratic process.

And the Court’s Republican majority hasn’t simply handed the Republican Party substantive policy victories. It is systematically dismantling voting rights protections that make it possible for every voter to have an equal voice, and for every political party to compete fairly for control of the United States government. Alito, the author of the opinion overturning Roe, is also the author of two important decisions dismantling much of the Voting Rights Act.

This behavior is consistent with the history of an institution that once blessed slavery and described Black people as “beings of an inferior order.” It is consistent with the Court’s history of union-busting, of supporting racial segregation, and of upholding concentration camps.

Moreover, while the present Court is unusually conservative, the judiciary as an institution has an inherent conservative bias. Courts have a great deal of power to strike down programs created by elected officials, but little ability to build such programs from the ground up. Thus, when an anti-governmental political movement controls the judiciary, it will likely be able to exploit that control to great effect. But when a more left-leaning movement controls the courts, it is likely to find judicial power to be an ineffective tool.

The Court, in other words, simply does not deserve the reverence it still enjoys in much of American society, and especially from the legal profession. For nearly all of its history, it’s been a reactionary institution, a political one that serves the interests of the already powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable. And it currently appears to be reverting to that historic mean.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 30: In this handout provided by the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (R) looks on as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson signs the Oaths of Office in the Justices’ Conference Room at the Supreme Court on June 30, 2022 in Washington, DC. Jackson was sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice today, replacing the now-retired Justice Stephen G. Breyer. (Photo by Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images)

Newly sworn-in Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson is going to join the normal group of women on the court and will have her job cut out for her!

President Joe Biden in a written statement praised Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic swearing in as the first Black female Justice of the Supreme Court, calling it a “profound step forward.”

“Her historic swearing in today represents a profound step forward for our nation, for all the young, Black girls who now see themselves reflected on our highest court, and for all of us as Americans,” Biden said in the written statement. 

Biden also thanked retiring Justice Stephen Breyer for “his many years of exemplary service.”

Here are some links to news on the latest January 6th Committee’s findings.

From Politico: New details of Jan. 6 panel’s mystery messages emerge

“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow,” read a slide that the Jan. 6 committee broadcast at the end of Hutchinson’s hearing, which Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) characterized as pressure on a key witness. “He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Meadows is the person whose name was redacted in that slide. Contents of that final deposition were described to POLITICO, which could not independently corroborate the identity of the intermediary or that Meadows directed any message be delivered to Hutchinson before her second deposition.

From David Rothkopf  of The Daily Beast:  Put a Fork in Donald Trump—the Ex-President Is Done

Mark it on your calendars. This was the week the meteoric political career of Donald Trump did what meteors often do and collided with planet Earth, leaving a large, ugly mark on the landscape.

The fact that Trump may soon announce his candidacy for the presidency in the days ahead is itself more of a sign of his political collapse than it is of any strength he may have. The first time he ran for president, he did it because he thought it would boost his brand. This time he is likely to do it because he thinks it may make him more difficult to prosecute. And because he can use it to mount one last big attempt to fleece his supporters.

From the Washington Post: ‘Take me up to the Capitol now’: How close Trump came to joining rioters

The excursion that almost happened came into clearer focus this week, as the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 presented explosive testimony and records detailing Trump’s fervent demands to lead his supporters mobbing the seat of government. Though Trump’s trip was ultimately thwarted by his own security officers, the new evidence cuts closer to the critical question of what he knew about the violence in store for that day.

Trump has acknowledged his foiled effort to reach the Capitol. “Secret Service wouldn’t let me,” he told The Washington Post in April. “I wanted to go. I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says you can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”

But as Trump repeatedly floated the idea in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, several of his advisers doubted he meant it or didn’t take the suggestion seriously. One senior administration official said Trump raised the prospect repeatedly but in a “joking manner.”

As a result, the White House staff never turned Trump’s stated desires into concrete plans. Press officers made no preparations for a detour to the Capitol, such as scheduling an additional stop for the motorcade and the pool of reporters who follow the president’s movements. There was no operational advance plan drafted for the visit. No speech was written for him to deliver on the Hill, and it wasn’t clear exactly what Trump would do when he got there, said the person who talked with Trump about the idea.

From MediaIte’s Colby Hall: “Rudy Giuliani Deletes Tweet Insisting Cassidy Hutchinson Was Not Present When He Asked for a Pardon.”  Giuliani has to be so close to jail that he can smell the jello.

Flagged by Ron Flipowski, who noted “She wasn’t there when I asked Trump for a pardon. But I never asked for a pardon. Only Rudy.”

He deleted the apparently self-incriminating Tweet and clarified that he never asked for a pardon …

So, that’s enough of the chaos for today.  I’m just dreaming of BBQ chicken, potato salad, and a really big piece of my mother’s chocolate cake.

Have a nice long weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: No LGB 🏳️‍🌈without the T 🏳️‍⚧️

Ok, I may get some flak for this…but I don’t give a fuck.

A couple days ago was Trans Day of Visibility. And I personally have to say, I fully support Trans rights. The sentiment of the image below is something I take to heart.

I don’t know what else to say about it. I don’t want to get into a big discussion about definitions of the word woman…or man for that matter. I have people in my life…that I love…who are gay, lesbian, queer, bi, trans and whoever the fuck they want to identify as…and I will support them in anyway that I can.

That is all I’m going to say on this subject.

Cartoons via Cagle:

H/T BB

Sad news:

Some disturbing news:

Ok, now we have to move on.

That is all I got for you today. This is an open thread, and I won’t be responding to anything Trans 🏳️‍⚧️ related. Thank you.

Here is some more Estelle Harris to get you going…


Blue Monday Reads: It will be a Long Cold Winter

Emil Nolde, Winter

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I kept the TV off–as usual–for my weekend.  Still, things crept through my timelines on social media so I got your basic headlines. The 4th wave of the Covid-19 is settling in for Winter. Germany has basically told all unvaccinated people they must stay home unless they’re doing something absolutely necessary. New York City is getting tougher too. The New York Times reports that “New York City sets a sweeping vaccine mandate for all private employers.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate for all private employers in New York City on Monday morning to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

Mr. de Blasio said the aggressive measure, which takes effect Dec. 27 and which he described as the first of its kind in the nation, was needed as a “pre-emptive strike” to stall another wave of coronavirus cases and help reduce transmission during the winter months and holiday gatherings.

“Omicron is here, and it looks like it’s very transmissible,” he said in an interview on MSNBC. “The timing is horrible with the winter months.”

New York City has already put vaccine mandates in place for city workers and for employees and customers at indoor dining, entertainment and gyms. Nearly 90 percent of adult New York City residents now have at least one dose of the vaccine.

But Mr. de Blasio said the city must go further to combat another wave of the virus in New York City, once the center of the pandemic. Some private employers have required employees to get vaccinated, but many others have not.

Mr. de Blasio said the new measure would apply to about 184,000 businesses. Employees who work in-person at private companies must have one dose of the vaccine by Dec. 27; remote workers will not be required to get the vaccine. There is no testing option as an alternative.

The city plans to offer exemptions for valid medical or religious reasons, Mr. de Blasio said. City officials will release detailed guidelines about issues like enforcement by Dec. 15 after consulting with business leaders.

The mayor also announced that the rules for dining and entertainment would apply to children ages 5 to 11, who must have one dose to enter restaurants and theaters starting on Dec. 14, and that the requirement for adults would increase from one dose of a vaccine to two starting on Dec. 27, except for those who initially received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Randegg in the Snow with Ravens, Otto Dix, 1935

The problem is still the people in the hinterlands who are also creating problems with their gun fetishes and authoritarian/theocratic tendencies.  Sorry to do this, but we’re going there today.  Trumpists and theocrats threaten our democracy. This is written by Barton Gellman for The Atlantic: Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun .

The prospect of this democratic collapse is not remote. People with the motive to make it happen are manufacturing the means. Given the opportunity, they will act. They are acting already.

Who or what will safeguard our constitutional order is not apparent today. It is not even apparent who will try. Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake.

“The democratic emergency is already here,” Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine, told me in late October. Hasen prides himself on a judicious temperament. Only a year ago he was cautioning me against hyperbole. Now he speaks matter-of-factly about the death of our body politic. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” he said, “but urgent action is not happening.”

For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election. They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject. They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.

By way of foundation for all the rest, Trump and his party have convinced a dauntingly large number of Americans that the essential workings of democracy are corrupt, that made-up claims of fraud are true, that only cheating can thwart their victory at the polls, that tyranny has usurped their government, and that violence is a legitimate response.

Any Republican might benefit from these machinations, but let’s not pretend there’s any suspense. Unless biology intercedes, Donald Trump will seek and win the Republican nomination for president in 2024. The party is in his thrall. No opponent can break it and few will try. Neither will a setback outside politics—indictment, say, or a disastrous turn in business—prevent Trump from running. If anything, it will redouble his will to power.

Snow-Covered Pine,Gabriele Münter, 1933

This is also from The Atlantic and written by George Packer. Way to go with the winter cheer! Are We Doomed?  If you haven’t got Blues yet, you’re either a White Nationalist or dead.

A year after the insurrection, I’m trying to imagine the death of American democracy. It’s somehow easier to picture the Earth blasted and bleached by global warming, or the human brain overtaken by the tyranny of artificial intelligence, than to foresee the end of our 250-year experiment in self-government.

The usual scenarios are unconvincing. The country is not going to split into two hostile sections and fight a war of secession. No dictator will send his secret police to round up dissidents in the dead of night. Analogies like these bring the comfort of at least being familiar. Nothing has aided Donald Trump more than Americans’ failure of imagination. It’s essential to picture an unprecedented future so that what may seem impossible doesn’t become inevitable.

Before January 6, no one—including intelligence professionals—could have conceived of a president provoking his followers to smash up the Capitol. Even the rioters livestreaming in National Statuary Hall seemed stunned by what they were doing. The siege felt like a wild shot that could have been fatal. For a nanosecond, shocked politicians of both parties sang together from the hymnal of democracy. But the unity didn’t last. The past months have made it clear that the near miss was a warning shot.

If the end comes, it will come through democracy itself.

You can read his scenario at the link. Here’s some more anti-democratic stuff from Axios and Mike Allen.

Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.

Why it matters: Many of these efforts couldn’t exist without the backing of major corporate figures and billionaires who are eager to push back against things like “censorship” and “cancel culture.”

  • It’s still not clear whether demand will match supply.

Driving the news: Rumble, a conservative alternative to YouTube, agreed to go public at an implied $2.1 billion valuation via a SPAC merger.

  • The SPAC is sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm led by billionaire and Trump fundraiser Howard Lutnick.
  • “I’m excited to support Rumble and its ability to operate the neutral video platform,” Lutnick said in a statement.

Donald Trump’s new social media company, called Truth Social, also plans to go public via a SPAC and on Saturday said that it secured $1 billion in so-called PIPE financing.

  • The SPAC is currently trading at a market value of $1.6 billion, down from its $4.5 billion peak in late October. Truth Social has yet to name a CEO.

Gettr, a social app launched by ex-Trump aide Jason Miller, has not disclosed all of its investors, but Miller has acknowledged that one of the app’s funders is the family foundation of Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.

Aside from social networks, conservatives are pushing to create alternatives to other tech tools and communication platforms.

Gabriele Münter ‘Häuser im Schnee’ 1933

Some good news is that Trump SPAC is under investigation by federal regulators, including SEC  via CNBC.

  • Federal regulators are investigating former President Donald Trump’s SPAC deal.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA probes were disclosed in a filing by Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company.

  • Trump Media & Technology Group has said it will launch a social media platform called “TRUTH Social.”

  • The platform would compete with Twitter and Facebook, both of which have banned the former president because of his incitement of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

You may read more details about this story in The New York Times.  Securities Regulators are among the most fastidious investigators anywhere.  You should also read this Op-Ed from Jennifer Rubin from the Washington Post.  Rubin does a great job vivisecting the most vial Governor of Mississippi.  He’s pretty much everything you hate in those white evangelicals.  The hypocrisy is jaw-dropping.

The priority for Reeves and the GOP is to force women to complete their pregnancies and give birth — even though that is exponentially more dangerous to the lives of women in his state. (The Post reports that in Mississippi it is “75 times more dangerous for women to give birth than to undergo a pre-viability abortion.”)

Republicans are incapable of explaining the contradiction between their objection to minor inconveniences (e.g. mask-wearing, vaccinations, reasonable gun laws) to save lives and their insistence that women undergo dangerous pregnancies to protect a fetus, which they consider to be a person.

Well, I was hungry but now my appetite has been ruined.  Think I’ll have some more tea and turn on some nice music. I vote this coming Saturday for Orleans Parish Sheriff and my City Council seat. It’s amazing to be someplace with normal candidates and then look at the rest of the country and state.

Here are a few things you may want to check out!

From Politico: ‘Absolute liars’: Ex-D.C. Guard official says generals lied to Congress about Jan. 6

From WAPO: Sidney Powell group raised more than $14 million spreading election falsehoods

From CNN: Biden administration expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics this week

From WAPO: GOP congressman’s gun-toting family Christmas photo sparks outrage days after school shooting

There is a lot out there on Republican Shenanigans and our inability to really address many of the central issues.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

Now the fraud police are coming
Right out to your door
They say you have no liberty if you’re who there looking for
No writ of habeas corpus
No platform of the sands
The wind don’t have to hurry only the wind knows where you went