Friday Reads: Right-Wing Overreach Seems to Be Upon Us

The Foxes (German: Die Füchse), 1913, Franz Marc.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

There are signs of backlash to moves by the Libertarian Right, the White Evangelical Nationalist Crusade, and the advance of global Fascism. They’re little signs mind you, but they are definitely there.

The major obvious overreach is the Putin invasion of Ukraine. But, we have some small hints that our markets and our political system may be waking up and pushing back.

Nothing made me happier today than to see the announcement I expected this morning after the crazy cryptocurrency market took a major dive and Tesla fell drastically. Nothing like a good dose of market discipline to kick a guy when he thinks he is winning. From WAPO: “Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter deal is temporarily on hold. The Tesla CEO, who has been seeking Twitter investors as his EV company sheds $400 billion in value, later says that he’s ‘still committed’ to the acquisition.”

I did mention a while ago that the entire thing could blow up in many different ways for many different reasons. Tesla has been overpriced for quite some time and cryptocurrency is basically a wild gamble no matter what they say about it. Sometimes, the favorite gets outfoxed.

Elon Musk tweeted early Friday that his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter was temporarily on hold, injecting fresh doubt into his ownership push just as a stock downturn had forced him to scramble for new investors.

Musk said the deal was on hold as he examined the number of spam accounts on the site, appearing to tie the delay to due diligence on an issue he has raised as a motivating factor to become Twitter’s owner. But the revelation sent the company’s stock down sharply, as investors signaled their doubt about whether the deal would go through.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” he tweeted, linking to a Reuters article from last week citing a Twitter filing.

Roughly two hours later, he added: “Still committed to acquisition.”

My guess is he’s looking for a reason to lower the offering price. My youngest daughter–the Market Maven–and I frequently discuss that we do not understand the demand for cryptocurrency. My Brother-in-law who also has been into investing for some time and is a Tax Attorney/CPA sneers at it too. I just come at it as a Financial Economist who believes currency needs to be backed up by actual production and a country’s laws. Maybe, I’m seriously old-fashioned. The last time I heard all the crypto bots tweet “To the Moon” I realized a crash was on the horizon for them. My jaded attitudes based on too-good-to-be-true have served me well in every market crash I’ve lived through. I bail. New York Magazine has this headline: “The Crash of Crypto’s Perpetual Wealth Machine” written by Kevin T. Dugan.

Just about four months ago, billionaire and Wall Street legend Mike Novogratz went to a Brooklyn tattoo parlor a few blocks down from Jim Cramer’s bar and, at 58, made permanent his devotion to a speculative new cryptocurrency. The result, on his left arm, was a large wolf howling at the moon. “I’m officially a Lunatic!!!” he tweeted to his more than 400,000 followers.

The ink refers to Luna, one half of a duo of digital currencies that were supposed to act as a perpetual wealth-creation machine, a way to always make money through the magic of code and financial engineering. At the time, Luna was on a massive run, up more the 1,000 percent over the prior six months. Novogratz is known as much for his career in the buttoned-up world of high finance — he’s an ex-partner at Goldman Sachs and Fortress Investment Group, an investor who lost two ten-figure fortunes and is on his third — as for being someone who has chafed against those boundaries. Several years ago, he was among the first high-profile Establishment finance types to dive all-in on crypto. (The ex-Princeton wrestler also hired Hilary Duff to play at his birthday party a few years ago.) But even for Novogratz, the tattoo seemed a little over-the-top. When someone tweeted their bewilderment that Novogratz would have gone so far, Do Kwon, the creator of Luna, chimed in, unprompted: “don’t worry it wasn’t much.”

This week, though, the critics who warned that Kwon’s perpetual wealth machine was too good to be true and that Novogratz might come to regret that tattoo before long were vindicated when Luna and its partner coin, Terra, both imploded in spectacular fashion. Terra is supposed to be trade reliable at the value of exactly one U.S. dollar, but it plummeted to 29 cents on Wednesday morning. Luna was down 99 percent since its highs last month. More than $40 billion in wealth — no small part of it from retail investors — was gone in a matter of hours. The shock of the sudden collapse sent the price of bitcoin falling to its lowest point since July, exposing how a coin labeled a Ponzi scheme by its critics had impacted the larger market in digital assets. Meanwhile, shares in leading U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase were off by 25 percent, and the trillion-dollar-plus crypto industry is teeming with rumors about large funds or companies that may be on the brink of failure.

Le Petit Prince et le renard, Antione de Saint Exupery,1943

Does this sound like a rational market to you?

The Oil and Gas Industry is also overreaching which caused me to once more troll one of my senators on Twitter. This is what’s going on and the Oil and Gas Industry is once more outfoxing the people who are supposed to regulate their failed oligopoly market so they can’t restrict quantity or price fix. From Time: “Oil Companies Posted Huge Profits. Here’s Where The Cash Will Go (Hint: Not Climate).” Nor is its goal the production of more gas and oil. They are perfectly happy with the high prices.

As consumers grapple with high fuel prices and politicians scramble to knock them down, oil companies are not making any sudden moves. That’s because, after years of low fuel prices, they are now enjoying a financial upswing, as demonstrated by lucrative first quarter earnings reports released in late April and early May.

Oil prices started to creep up in late 2021 due to supply constraints, but then turbocharged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. For Chevron, the upshot was $6.3 billion in profits last quarter, up from $1.4 billion a year ago. For Exxon Mobil, profits more than doubled in the same period, to $5.5 billion. The numbers were also rosy for European firms—even among those that took a hit from severing ties with their Russian investments. TotalEnergies, a French company, netted nearly $5 billion, a 48% boost from last year, while U.K. companies Shell (at $9 billion) and BP (at $6.2 billion) are hitting profit levels that they haven’t seen in about a decade.

For the most part, major oil companies aren’t going to pour these billions of dollars into climate-mitigation investments like carbon capture technologies. Nor have they signaled any immediate intention to bolster oil production, despite calls from heads of state to do so. Their inaction has spurred U.S. and European countries, which are under pressure to keep fuel affordable, to release oil reserves and replace Russian crude oil and liquid natural gas from other sources. Despite those government efforts, oil prices have stayed above $100 per barrel, sustaining an influx of money to fossil fuel companies that are passing it on to stockholders and investors in the form of increased dividends and share buyback initiatives that drive up companies’ share values.

One analysis from the Wall Street Journal found that the nine largest U.S. oil producers spent 54% more in share repurchases and dividends in the first quarter than they invested in new oil developments. Similarly, a recent report covering the 20 largest U.S. oil companies published by the environmentalist organization Friends Of The Earth and consumer watchdog organizations Public Citizen and BailoutWatch, tallied $56 billion in new share buyback authorizations in the roughly seven months since last October, compared with $11 billion announced in the nine months before that.

I think they’re being deliberately political and obtuse about this. It’s also not helpful because they could solve this problem by passing laws. They are stopping oil production. You are letting them Senator by not forcing them to produce or give up their damned excessive profits to an extraordinary income or price gouging tax.

So, it looks like Republicans are going to be bringing more guys like this one to the ballot in the fall midterms. More power to them. I’m not sure any rational voter of either part is going to want more of this guy. From Politico: “‘He’s Not OK’: The Entirely Predictable Unraveling of Madison Cawthorn. A string of embarrassing incidents has led many to question whether the young congressman from North Carolina was really ready for the job.” The little dude is not an outlier. Ask his Maga Buddies in Congress now subpoenaed by the Jan 6 committee.

Four and a half years after Cawthorn contemplated suicide, he was running for Congress. Turning a stirring story of conquering adversity into a shocking political victory, he achieved his most ambitious career goal at a staggeringly early age. And within weeks if not days of being sworn in — at 25 years old one of the youngest members in the history of the House — he had put himself on a short list of the chamber’s most known figures. Now, though, heading into his first reelection, Cawthorn is mired in controversy, facing the very real possibility that the end of his electoral career might come as quickly as it began. Emboldened by Cawthorn’s miscues, misdeeds and array of indiscretions, seven Republican challengers have lined up to try to take him out in Tuesday’s primary, party leaders have abandoned him, and other MAGA firebrands are keeping their distance what with the escalating storm of even just the past few months.

Police stopped him for driving with a revoked license (again). Airport security stopped him for trying to bring a gun onto a plane (again). He made outlandish and unsubstantiated comments on an obscure podcast about orgies and cocaine use by his Capitol Hill colleagues. He called the Ukrainian president a “thug,” he suggested Nancy Pelosi was an alcoholic (she doesn’t drink), and the seemingly ceaseless gush of unsavory news has included allegations of insider trading, pictures of shuttered district offices, a leaked tranche of salacious images and videos, and ongoing proof in FEC filings that he’s a prodigious fundraiser but a profligate spender as well. All of this comes on top of multiple women in multiple places accusing him of sexual harassment, his role in the insurrection on Jan. 6 of last year, his growing catalogue of alarming provocations on social media and on the House floor, and his politically imprudent decision to announce he was switching districts only to reverse course. His marriage amidst all this lasted less than a year.

Common foxes in the snow, 1893,Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Kuhner

Seems a lot like Gaetz, Jordan, Taylor Greene, and others except they didn’t spill the beans on the Grand Old Pervert’s Orgies and Cocaine parties. Then there’s the Hand Maid on the Supreme Court. Move on, she’s perfectly normal too right?

Check out this in The Atlantic by Margaret Atwood. “I INVENTED GILEAD. THE SUPREME COURT IS MAKING IT REAL. I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Although I eventually completed this novel and called it The Handmaid’s Tale, I stopped writing it several times, because I considered it too far-fetched. Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the distant past: There are a number of them on the planet today. What is to prevent the United States from becoming one of them?

For instance: It is now the middle of 2022, and we have just been shown a leaked opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that would overthrow settled law of 50 years on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and is not “deeply rooted” in our “history and tradition.” True enough. The Constitution has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the original document does not mention women at all.

Women were deliberately excluded from the franchise. Although one of the slogans of the Revolutionary War of 1776 was “No taxation without representation,” and government by consent of the governed was also held to be a good thing, women were not to be represented or governed by their own consent—only by proxy, through their fathers or husbands. Women could neither consent nor withhold consent, because they could not vote. That remained the case until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, an amendment that many strongly opposed as being against the original Constitution. As it was.

Women were nonpersons in U.S. law for a lot longer than they have been persons. If we start overthrowing settled law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justifications, why not repeal votes for women?

Reproductive rights have been the focus of the recent fracas, but only one side of the coin has been visible: the right to abstain from giving birth. The other side of that coin is the power of the state to prevent you from reproducing. The Supreme Court’s 1927 Buck v. Bell decision held that the state may sterilize people without their consent. Although the decision was nullified by subsequent cases, and state laws that permitted large-scale sterilization have been repealed, Buck v. Bell is still on the books. This kind of eugenicist thinking was once regarded as “progressive,” and some 70,000 sterilizations—of both males and females, but mostly of females—took place in the United States. Thus a “deeply rooted” tradition is that women’s reproductive organs do not belong to the women who possess them. They belong only to the state.

Alito of the poison pen is “reluctant to discuss state of Supreme Court after Roe leak” according to the Washington Post. Do you think he enjoys being the most hated man in America?

In his first public address since the explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion he wrote that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. breezed through a detailed examination of statutory textualism, and renewed a disagreement over the court’s decision saying federal discrimination law protects gay and transgender workers.

But he was a little stumped by the final audience question from a crowd at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University: Are he and the other justices at a place where they could get a nice meal together?

“I think it would just be really helpful for all of us to hear, personally, are you all doing okay in these very challenging times?” the questioner asked.

The fact that Alito was speaking via closed circuit from a room at the Supreme Court seven miles away, rather than in person, was a sign these are not normal times.

Foxes, Kawanabe Kyosai

The snowflake can’t even handle his neighbors serving wine and cheese plates and opening their home bathrooms to protestors by his house. They needed a law to protect him from a cocktail get-together with a point? What did he think would happen? That 60% of the population was going to take his little diatribe based on a guy that believed in and killed witches? And he was at fucking George Mason which barely qualified as an educational institution and is more like an indoctrination center that teaches false narratives and pogrom generator.

What about the overreach of the White Nationalists and Militias that stormed the Capitol and January 6. Ever wonder what a nightmare it would be to be raised by one or married to one? What sense of relief you must feel to find your violent and manipulative father/husband in federal prison!

You may read the stories of the three grown kids of Steward Rhodes at The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Prosecutors’ most recent allegations against Rhodes include that he attempted to contact then-President Donald Trump through an intermediary in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. They further alleged that Rhodes, in a conference call with Oath Keepers members in the days following Trump’s election defeat, characterized Trump’s opponents as a cabal of pedophiles.

In February, Hatewatch met with and interviewed Rhodes’ adult children: son Dakota Adams, 24, and daughters Sedona Adams, 23, and Sequoia Adams, 19, in Kalispell, Montana. Rhodes and his ex-wife, Tasha Adams, have three other children who are still minors, and are not included in this interview.

The conversation shed important new light on the psychology of the Oath Keepers founder and provided the untold story of the impact of his public activities on his family.

The more these stories get out, the more outraged the sane majority in this country should be convinced that voting Democratic is our only hope. Even, if that party isn’t exactly the party that stands up for right, we have no other rational choice.

What’s on your writing and blogging list today?


Martin Luther King Day Reads: Whither Voting Rights

Today, we celebrate the life and works of Doctor Martin Luther King!  Good Day!

I was fortunate to live during a time when great change was possible that came from the grassroots up.  It did not come from a specific church, the military-industrial complex, or the whims of billionaires whose hobbies were to be funded by allowing them not to pay taxes.  A crooked president was shamed out of the office with a bi-partisanship agreement and on full-display on TV.  We achieved reproductive rights, voting rights, GBLT civil rights, and great scientific advances, and moved towards inclusion provided by the decisions of a balanced Supreme Court and Legislation hashed through with supporters on both sides of Congress.

This seems no longer possible due to the increasing belligerence of one party representing religious fanatics, billionaires, the war and fossil fuel machines, science deniers, white nationalists, and what still remains of the Confederacy. It’s all or nothing for them.  Our country is scorched earth. We’re experiencing extreme weather events, extremist violence including insurrection, and extreme wealth inequality.

We do not want to continue down this path. It will not end well.

This is from Dr. Hakeem Jefferson quoting Dr. King. I am glad he is on our side and can elucidate the struggle so eloquently.

[A]ll types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters.” Continuing, he argued that “The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.”

Jefferson’s San Francisco Chronicle op-ed is righteous, powerful, and urgent.

For me, I’ve found comfort in the words of Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who, when asked how she avoids despair at times like this, said, “I don’t know of anything in the history of Black people in this country in which I’ve read some account in which it ended with, ‘And then they gave up.’ That’s just not what we do.”

That, dear reader, is the legacy of King. That is the legacy of Black people in a country that has long failed to live up to its ideals. That is the legacy that gives me hope, even as there is much reason to despair. That is the legacy I call up today and every day because those committed to justice cannot rest “until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

There are many books being written these days on the move towards autocracy in these United States. I’d like to offer up the work of David Peper interviewed by reporter Paul Rosenberg who writes on “How the states have become “Laboratories of Autocracy” — and why it’s worse than you think. Former Ohio Democratic Party head David Pepper has a dire warning: Rigged state legislatures are destroying America.”  This is from Salon and it is an interview with David Pepper, the book’s author.

It was funny — it was when I thought of the term that the book came to me. I was going to tweet the words out, “You know, these states are no longer acting like laboratories of democracy, but laboratories of autocracy.” I didn’t send the tweet, because the minute I wrote it I thought, “Boy, there’s a lot more to say than this tweet.” And everything flowed from that.

Obviously, it comes out of this age-old term that Justice Louis Brandeis made famous but that many have used, a very idealized notion of states doing good things that then become models for the country. Clearly, that’s been the case sometimes. But as I argue in the book, in our history sometime it’s been the exact opposite. That’s how we got Jim Crow. States have enough power that in the wrong hands they can do great damage, and the point of the title was to say that’s what’s happening now in very stark ways.

But both words matter. “Autocracy” matters, as these states are hacking away at pillars of democracy that could lead to autocracy. But the “laboratories” part matters too, because they’re always learning, they’re always improving. So they are functioning as laboratories. Until you start adding some accountability and pushing back, they’ll just keep going. So my hope is that “autocracy” wakes people up, but “laboratories” is a really important part of that title because it explains how they operate.

I’ve been fighting the voting rights battle in Ohio for a number of years. The worst is still the purging of voters, but to have a secretary of state intentionally cause long traffic jams for the form of voting that he knew minorities and Biden voters were using, and lying over and over again about what the law actually, was such a troubling thing. And this was not your right-wing, Trump-type secretary of state. He had held himself out as more moderate.

So I tell the story because you look at the traffic jams that his one-drop-box-per-county policy created, and anyone with a commonsense response would say, “Don’t ever do that again.” But in a world of “laboratories of autocracy,” as I tell in the story, the state legislature of Ohio, seeing those jams, began pushing for bills to have traffic jams forever by making that not just a policy decision, but state law. And what do we see at the same time? States around the country looked at those traffic jams and saw the effect on — let’s be clear — Black voters waiting in long lines. So now we have the same effort in other states to minimize drop boxes and to do what happened here: Put the drop boxes where people are already voting early in person, which creates the maximum congestion possible. So it’s a great example of how they behave as laboratories against democracy.

We thought we could get so much done this last election only to see everything held hostage by two Democratic Senators. Ron Brownstein argues this in The Atlantic: “How Manchin and Sinema Completed a Conservative Vision. A nationwide standard of voting rights now seems like a pipe dream.”  What follows is a blasting damnation of Roberts’ decisions in Shelby County v. Holder.

Roberts, who served as a young clerk to conservative Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and as a Justice Department assistant in the Reagan administration, has long expressed hostility to federal oversight of voting and election rules. As the journalist Ari Berman recounted in his 2015 book, Give Us the Ballot, Roberts “led the charge” against the bipartisan 1982 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, which ultimately reversed a Supreme Court decision (supported by Rehnquist) weakening one key section of the law. Roberts wrote “upwards of 25 memos” opposing the legislation’s provision requiring that the Justice Department prove only discriminatory “effect” rather than purposeful “intent” in order to block state or local voting restrictions. (The Court had ruled the opposite, severely limiting the law’s applicability.)

In one memo reported by Berman, Roberts revealed his broader philosophy about voting rights: The test for federal objection to local voting laws should be extremely difficult to meet, he wrote, “since they provide the basis for the most intrusive interference imaginable by federal courts into state and local processes.”

That approach has guided Roberts on the Supreme Court. As the Harvard Law School professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos, an expert in voting law, wrote in a 2019 law-review article, “The Roberts Court has … never nullified a law making it harder to vote.” To the contrary, in a series of landmark decisions, it has nullified efforts to ensure voter access, combat gerrymanders, and to limit political contributions and spending.

Those cases have included Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, which swept away federal prohibitions on undisclosed, unlimited corporate spending in federal elections; Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, which eviscerated the Justice Department’s authority under the Voting Rights Act to review, or “preclear,” any changes in voting procedures in states with a history of discrimination against minorities; Rucho v. Common Cause in 2019, which ruled that federal courts cannot overturn even the most extreme partisan gerrymanders; and Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee in 2021, which severely weakened Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act—the same provision that Roberts, as a young Reagan aide, targeted all the way back in 1982.

Those decisions generally aligned every Republican-appointed justice on the Court at the time against every Democratic-appointed justice (with the exception of Citizens United, in which one GOP-appointed justice, the center-left John Paul Stevens, sided with the minority). The first three cases were decided by the narrowest possible 5–4 majorities, and the most recent one by a 6–3 count that reflected the Court’s larger GOP advantage. Roberts personally wrote the decisions in both the Shelby and Rucho cases.

Roberts has often appeared reluctant to let the Court be seen in purely partisan terms. But that instinct, as many critics have noted, has not extended to cases involving the core electoral interests of the two political parties—cases in which he’s been entirely willing to engineer sharply divided rulings that separate the justices along partisan and ideological lines. (No Democratic-appointed justice has supported any of these rulings.)

I’m pretty sure I’ve given you enough long pieces to read so I’ll end here.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: As the Insurrection Turns

The Magpie, Claude Monet,1868–1869

Happy New Year Sky Dancers!!

It’s the first Monday of the year!  The country is stilled mired by Covid-19 and the ongoing insurrection.   The Trumps and the pandemic dominate the news so far.

Jim McGovern–writing for The Boston Globe— has this Op-Ed headline: “The coup is still underway. Make no mistake — an aspiring dictator, egged on by his allies in Congress, failed to hold on to power this time. But those very same people haven’t given up.”

But a year later, a fundamental question remains: Will the Jan. 6 insurrection be swept under the rug, or seen for what it could be — the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it.

Many of the people who failed to overturn the election are now using the levers of power at the state level to rig future campaigns.

They’ve introduced more than 440 bills across 49 states designed to hijack the election process and suppress the right to vote. This represents a dagger to the heart of the American experiment: that the people get to decide who is in charge. Chillingly, 34 of those bills have become law in 19 states.

Those who manufactured the crusade to steal the 2020 election know how and why they failed. They are laying the groundwork to overturn the next election successfully. The coup is still underway.

Make no mistake — an aspiring dictator, egged on by his allies in Congress, failed to hold on to power this time. But those very same people haven’t given up — they are analyzing their failures and will continue their brazen attempts to seize power by any means necessary. This is not some academic debate: In future elections, they might succeed in the unthinkable.

The Fox Hunt, Winslow Homer., 1893

Another Op-Ed in The Philladelphia Inquirer–written by Will Bunch–has this lede: “Is the ‘smoking gun’ in Trump’s Jan. 6 attempted coup hiding in plain sight? Trump insider Bernie Kerik claims ex-president drafted a letter to involve the Insurrection Act on Jan. 6. The American people need to see this.”

Thanks to a somewhat surprising source — the disgraced former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, a Team Trump insider — we now know the name of a document with the potential to become a “smoking gun.” Just its title suggests Trump was planning an unprecedented abuse of presidential power — to use the Big Lie of nonexistent 2020 election fraud to undo the results of a free and fair vote.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the insurrection that disrupted Congress and left five people dead or dying, the question that looms large over 2022 is whether the American people will ever get to see this proof, or the other evidence of the 45th president’s involvement in election tampering, in inciting those who violently rioted on Capitol Hill — and whether the endgame was an autocoup to seize power and deny Joe Biden the White House.

According to a letter from Kerik’s attorney, the document is called “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS” — and it’s believed to have been written on Dec. 17, 2020. That was a critical time for the Trump insiders who were accelerating their schemes to deny the presidency to Biden, even after the Democrat won 7 million more popular votes and the Electoral College by a 306-232 margin.

Here’s the catch: While Kerik, a longtime close associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, last week turned over some election-related materials to the House Select Committee tasked with getting to the bottom of Jan. 6, the draft letter from Trump is on a list of records that Kerik is refusing to turn over — claiming that the document is shielded as “attorney work product.” While some legal experts are already throwing cold water on that claim, the reality is that Team Trump has been remarkably successful for months in stonewalling — in keeping both key records and important witnesses out of investigators’ reach. In an echo of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the future of democracy may hinge on Trump’s ability to thwart the probe.

Understanding why the 12/17/20 document could be a “smoking gun” means understanding where the concept of a national emergency and “seizing evidence,” which could include paper ballots or voting machines from the 2020 election, fits into the growing body of data showing both that an attempted Trump coup was afoot — and why it failed.

Many Republicans still believe the ‘big lie’, disregard the nature of the insurrection, as well as cling angrily to a huge set of lies about Covid-19.  What can you do when so many people live in alternative reality? This is from the NPR Tweet above.

Fewer than half of Republicans say they are willing to accept the results of the 2020 election — a number that has remained virtually unchanged since we asked the same question last January.

“There is really a sort of dual reality through which partisans are approaching not only what happened a year ago on Jan. 6, but also generally with our presidential election and our democracy,” said Mallory Newall, a vice president at Ipsos, which conducted the poll.

“It is Republicans that are driving this belief that there was major fraudulent voting and it changed the results in the election,” Newall said.

Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents agree that U.S. democracy is “more at risk” now than it was a year ago. Among Republicans, that number climbs to 4 in 5.

Overall, 70% of poll respondents agree that the country is in crisis and at risk of failing.

The country can’t even decide what to call the assault on the Capitol. Only 6% of poll respondents say it was “a reasonable protest” — but there is little agreement on a better description. More than half of Democrats say the Jan. 6 assault was an “attempted coup or insurrection,” while Republicans are more likely to describe it as a “riot that got out of control.”

Americans are bitterly divided over the events that led to Jan. 6, as well.

Breton Village in the Snow by Paul Gauguin, 1894

Politico‘s Kyle Cheney asks “Could Jan. 6 happen again? The Capitol Police has made progress under a new chief. But many on the Hill don’t have an easy answer.”

But the political blight that contributed to the attack has only worsened, inside and outside the Capitol. So while leaders feel readier today than they did on Jan. 5, no one is rushing to declare the threat has passed.

“The last thing that I want to do is say, ‘this could never happen again’ and have it sound like a challenge to those people,” said Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who took over the department in August after his predecessor’s ouster following the siege. “I’m not trying to be overconfident. We are much better prepared.”

The story of that preparation is only partially written, though. Capitol Police officers remain overtaxed and exhausted, logging crushing amounts of overtime as they grapple with a depleted force. Threats against members of Congress are still spiking. A Sept. 18 rally to support certain insurrectionists drew an overwhelming police presence that dwarfed the smattering of demonstrators, raising questions about an overcorrection and quality of intelligence.

And with the atmosphere under the dome as personally corrosive as ever, it’s tough to say the Capitol has moved forward from Jan. 6. Many of those who fled from or responded to the violence are indelibly scarred.

“My concern about the Capitol Police is that we’re making them work too hard and too long,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate committee that oversees Capitol security, told reporters recently. “And we need to figure out a way to shift some of those responsibilities … or to figure out a way to recruit more people.”

January by Grant Wood.1940

The wheels of justice are moving albeit slowly.  Here are so updates.  This is from The New York Times: “New York A.G. Seeks to Question Trump Children in Fraud Inquiry. The attorney general, Letitia James, has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump as part of a civil investigation.”

The New York State attorney general’s office, which last month subpoenaed Donald J. Trump as part of a civil investigation into his business practices, is also seeking to question two of his adult children as part of the inquiry.

The involvement of the children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, was disclosed in a court document filed on Monday as the Trump Organization sought to block lawyers for the attorney general, Letitia James, from questioning the former president and his children.

The subpoenas for the former president and two of his children were served on Dec. 1, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Eric Trump, another of Mr. Trump’s sons, was already questioned by Ms. James’s office in October 2020.

The attorney general’s effort to interview Mr. Trump under oath became public last month, but it was not previously known that her office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into the former president’s business practices for almost three years, was also looking to question Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Winter Landscape by Edvard Munch (1915)

Lisa Mascaro of the Associated Press reports: “Schumer: Senate to vote on filibuster change on voting bill.”

Days before the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate will vote on filibuster rules changes to advance stalled voting legislation that Democrats say is needed to protect democracy.

In a letter Monday to colleagues, Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Senate “must evolve” and will “debate and consider” the rules changes by Jan. 17, on or before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as the Democrats seek to overcome Republican opposition to their elections law package.

“Let me be clear: January 6th was a symptom of a broader illness — an effort to delegitimize our election process,” Schumer wrote, “and the Senate must advance systemic democracy reforms to repair our republic or else the events of that day will not be an aberration — they will be the new norm.”

The election and voting rights package has been stalled in the evenly-split 50-50 Senate, blocked by a Republican-led filibuster and leaving Democrats unable to mount the 60-vote threshold needed to advance it toward passage.

Democrats have been unable to agree among themselves over potential changes to the Senate rules to reduce the 60-vote hurdle, despite months of private negotiations.

The breaking news on this is pretty intensive,  This is from the NPR tweet above. “Schumer tees up vote on rules change if voting rights legislation is blocked.”  It’s a new year and a new dawn.

“Much like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol nearly one year ago, Republican officials in states across the country have seized on the former president’s ‘Big Lie’ about widespread voter fraud to enact anti-democratic legislation and seize control of typically non-partisan election administration functions,” Schumer wrote in the letter.

Democrats say last year’s insurrection was propelled by former President Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him and that election fraud was rampant, allegations that spurred Republican state legislatures to implement new voting restrictions.

Democrats argue passing The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would, among other things, ensure that states have early voting, make Election Day a public holiday and secure the availability of mail-in voting, are necessary measures to combat the actions taken by somestate legislatures.

The GOP is expected to once again reject the bills, arguing they’re a form of federal overreach. In a 50-50 Senate, Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them to advance the legislation because of the 60-vote threshold required under Senate rules. But uniform Republican oppositionhas led voting rights advocates to urge Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster, or carve out an exception for voting rights legislation.

In order for that to happen, all Democrats need to be on board. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have repeatedly defended the filibuster and may not be open toamending it, despite supporting the voting legislation itself.

Manchintook part in a series of meetings on potential rules changes with other Democratic senators during December, which continued through the holidays.

Senators have been discussing two different approaches to altering Senate rules: either setting up a “talking filibuster” that would give the minority the ability to block action on legislation or creating a carve out that would provide a path for Democrats to pass voting rights legislation with a simple majority, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

I’ll try to post updates as we get them.  Meanwhile, what’s your reading and blogging list?


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?


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