Friday Reads: Fighting the Same Old Fights

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A spiritual solidarity,” Hill called it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

President Biden is going to have a press conference this afternoon, and I wish someone would ask him why around 30,000,000 people on Social Security, disability, veterans, and railroad pensions haven’t gotten their stimulus payments yet. Furthermore, why hasn’t he fired two Trump holdovers at the Social Security Administration who are holding up the payments and who are trying to destroy Social Security?

HuffPost: Democrats Say Agency Run By Trump Holdover Is Delaying Stimulus Checks.

Millions of disabled and retired Americans are still waiting for their $1,400 stimulus payments because of a holdup at the Social Security Administration, House Democrats said Wednesday.

Social Security hasn’t handed over payment information that the Internal Revenue Service needs to send the coronavirus relief checks to nearly 30 million people receiving retirement or disability benefits, Democrats said.

“We understand that these beneficiaries are waiting because the Social Security Administration has not sent the necessary payment files to the Internal Revenue Service,” House Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul.

Several Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), had previously urged President Joe Biden to fire Saul, a Donald Trump appointee whose term doesn’t expire until 2025. Biden has hesitated to do so even though he’s fired other Trump holdovers in other agencies before their terms have ended.

The IRS has sent more than 127 million payments so far. Neal and other members of his committee earlier this week asked Social Security and the IRS to explain the delayed payments to Social Security beneficiaries.

In Wednesday’s letter, Democrats said they became “aware that the IRS asked SSA to start sending payment files two weeks before the American Rescue Plan became law on March 11, 2021” ― and that Social Security still hasn’t provided the information.

People in these categories are the poorest of the poor, including Social Security recipients who don’t have enough income to file tax returns.

Yahoo News: Trump-appointed Social Security Administration officials test Biden’s ability to forge new agenda.

President Biden is facing increasing pressure to remove two Social Security Administration officials appointed by his Republican predecessor, a standoff that could test the limits of his ability to undo Donald Trump’s legacy.

The brewing controversy surrounds Andrew Saul and David Black, the agency’s commissioner and deputy commissioner, whom Trump appointed to fixed-term positions that don’t end until 2025. As term appointees, they can’t be removed by Biden except for cause, but unions and Capitol Hill alike are demanding that Biden find a way to remove them, accusing them of creating a toxic work environment, contributing to low morale due to staff cuts, and sidelining the agency’s administrative law judges.

The continued presence of the Trump appointees underscores the difficulties the Biden administration faces when trying to roll back some of the previous administration’s efforts to reshape the federal government. While traditional political appointees must resign or face being fired when a new administration comes in, presidents are also able to install fixed-term employees to boards and other government positions that can outlast their administration.

Saul, a New York businessman and Republican donor, and Black, a former Bush administration staffer, have been in their positions since 2019. According to critics, the two officials have engaged in “no-holds-barred union busting” and eliminated the agency’s pre-pandemic telework program, forcing over 10,000 employees to commute to work — a rule change that continues despite the onset of COVID-19. (That did not apply to Saul, who reportedly continued to work from home as thousands of his employees commuted during the onset of the pandemic.)

There’s more at the Yahoo News link.

As we all know, there’s another Trump holdover working as quickly as he can to destroy the Post Office.

The Washington Post: USPS chief DeJoy cuts post office hours, lengthens delivery times in new 10-year plan.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday unveiled the largest rollback of consumer mail services in a generation, part of a 10-year plan that includes longer first-class delivery windows, reduced post office hours and higher postage prices.

DeJoy presented his long-awaited strategic vision for the U.S. Postal Service during a Tuesday webinar. Portions of the initiative already made public have raised alarms from postal advocates, who say they could further erode agency performance. Mailing industry officials warn that substantial service cuts could drive away business and worsen its already battered finances.

Louis DeJoy

But DeJoy has cited the need for austerity to ensure more consistent delivery and rein in losses. The agency is weighed down by $188.4 billion in liabilities, and DeJoy told a House panel last month that he expects the Postal Service to lose $160 billion over the next 10 years. Without the plan, Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom said, the agency’s future was “profoundly threatened.”

DeJoy’s plan to make up that projected shortfall largely depends on Congress repealing a retiree health care pre-funding mandate and allowing postal workers to enroll in Medicare. The agency also will ask President Biden to order a review of how much the Postal Service should have paid into its pension funds, and credit the mail agency with any overpayments.

DeJoy projected these steps would save the agency $58 billion over the next decade, and the agency could make up the rest through postage rate increases ($44 billion in new revenue), “self-help” cost cutting in mail processing, transportation and administrative efficiencies ($34 billion), and revenue from package volume and price increases ($24 billion).

USA Today has an interesting piece on Biden by Paul Brandus: Biden is using FDR as his role model. He’s made the no-drama Obama era look wild.

Presidents get to decorate the Oval Office any way they want, and it’s usually telling. Joe Biden for example, requested that five portraits be hung around the fireplace. There’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and one of the greatest Americans who never became president: Alexander Hamilton.

And in the middle of this esteemed group is a fifth portrait in a place of honor over the fireplace: Franklin D. Roosevelt. Biden, who will be the last president who lived during FDR’s momentous era, deeply admires our 32nd president, and it shows in both his style and way of governing.

No president since Roosevelt inherited the kind of mess that confronted Biden, and he has responded as FDR did: By throwing big money at problems. The ink on the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan is barely dry, and now the White House is set to unveil a $3 trillion infrastructure plan.

There’s also talk of reforming the biggest federal program of all: Social Security, which Roosevelt launched in 1935, and which is now paying out more cash than it’s bringing in. In Washington, the word “reform” is usually a code word for more spending.

Hmmm….I hope that will involve lifting the cap on the payroll tax so that rich people have to contribute more to Social Security and Medicare.

Biden’s style — specifically how he communicates with the American people — is also a page from the FDR playbook. Two months into his presidency, he has been surprisingly disciplined and economical with his words and appearances. The verbal gaffes that dogged him throughout his long career in Washington are nowhere to be seen. I’m sure he’ll make a boo-boo eventually (he’s Joe Biden, after all) but after four years of a president who lied about everything, a gaffe on Biden’s part these days will be seen as an honest mistake, humanizing, even charming to a certain degree.

Roosevelt is remembered for his famous Fireside Chats. Forgotten, however, is how infrequently he gave them. During his 12 years in office — bookended by America’s greatest  20th century crises, the Great Depression and World War II — he took to the airwaves just 30 times. Just two or three times a year. The rarity of his appearances amped up the drama and attention when he did speak.

But, unlike Biden so far, FDR gave lots of press conferences, Brandus writes. He recommends that Biden make his first formal appearance before the D.C. press corps as boring as possible.

The news media is trying to gin up the drama for this, and Biden will certainly be asked about tough issues that already are challenging his smooth operation — including immigration problems at the southern border and the mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colorado. But he knows this and will be prepared.

If Biden’s lucky, his first news conference will be a dull affair. It will also likely be a rare one. Why? Here’s the deal. With platforms like Twitter, Facebook and all the rest at their fingertips, modern-day presidents need reporters and the press less than ever. We saw this during the campaign, when Biden gave individual interviews but rarely held news conferences. The pandemic was a good excuse to pull back even further.

In other news, There’s been an attempted copycat supermarket shooting in Georgia; fortunately it was short-circuited.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Man took 6 guns, body armor into Publix at Atlantic Station, cops say.

Just two days after a mass shooting left 10 people dead at a Colorado supermarket, Atlanta police arrested a 22-year-old man who walked into a Publix at Atlantic Station with six guns and body armor.

Police were called to the grocery store on Atlantic Drive just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and met with a manager who told them a man came in with a rifle and headed straight toward a bathroom, authorities said.

“A witness observed the male and alerted store management, who then notified police,” Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Officers at the scene spotted the man leaving the bathroom and quickly took him into custody. According to police, his weapons included two long guns and four pistols, all of which were concealed.

Police identified the man as Rico Marley. He was booked into the Fulton County Jail on multiple charges of criminal attempt to commit a felony and weapons possession. Marley is scheduled for a first appearance before a judge Thursday morning.

Remember the elderly Asian woman who fought back against her attacker in San Francisco? She’s in the news again.

NPR: Asian Grandmother Who Smacked Her Attacker With A Board Donates Nearly $1 Million.

Xiao Zhen Xie, the 75-year-old woman who was punched by a white man in San Francisco — and then fought back by smacking him with a board — will not keep the nearly $1 million that has been donated for her medical expenses. Her grandson says Xie insists on donating the money to help defuse racism against the Asian American community.

“She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than Her,” John Chen wrote in an update on the fundraising site GoFundMe.

Xiao Zhen Xie, 75, is recovering after she was punched by a man in San Francisco. Her family says that despite being hurt, she fought back to defend herself.
Dennis O’Donnell/Screenshot by NPR

Xie was attacked on San Francisco’s Market Street last Wednesday, the morning after six women of Asian descent were killed in a shooting rampage in the Atlanta area — the worst incident in a broader spike in incidents that have targeted the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Xie, who is originally from China, had been waiting to cross the street when she was suddenly hit in the face. San Francisco Police say the suspect, Steven Jenkins, punched Xie minutes after he assaulted an 83-year-old Asian man. The suspect was being chased by a security guard when he hit Xie.

In the moment, her instinct was to fight back, her family told TV station KPIX. They said that Xie, while badly hurt, responded by grabbing a wooden board and hitting the man.

Jenkins, 39, was left with a bloody mouth and is facing charges of assault and elder abuse.

I’ll end with this argument that violence against women is a hate crime. Click the link to read the article at The Atlantic.

As always, this is an open thread. What’s on your mind today?


Wednesday Reads: Never Gonna Give

The last 24 hours have been so disappointing. I’ve lost myself in classic and campy horror movies…but even that cannot remove the anxiety that weighs on me…especially when I see something like this:

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Posting for those who need it.

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That smacks hard. People have to prepare for a completely new life, just because of the bigotry and hatred of the fucking Republicans.

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Justice Amy is no feminist

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It’s TIME for change… ⏰

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🙃

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Pay attention, because this may be the US in a few months:

In other news:

Follow the events of last night here:

More at the thread.

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Mexico, perhaps.

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A cartoon by @lizatlarge. #NewYorkerCartoons

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Hope you have a pleasant day, well…as good of day that can be expected.

Here is a link to NHC website for the latest on #Zeta

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Peace of Mind

Henri Matisse “Madame Matisse(The Green Line),” 1905

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Trump and his Death Cult seem to thrive on anger and chaos. We couldn’t even mourn the great legal mind and contributions to civil rights of our second woman on SCOTUS without Trump and the cult jumping into offer the usual platter of women that hate themselves to replace her. We’re supposed to get the pick on Friday or Saturday and I hope the Democrats go nuclear. I’ve been fighting these same damned battles for too long and I didn’t expect to hand my daughters more church control of their bodies sanctioned by the US Government.

There are two women that appear on Trump’s short list and they are both appalling religionists. One is definitely a member of a cult and a bit of an offshoot of Catholicism. The other is one of those Catholics that the court is stacked with already which is the subcult of Opus Dei. WTF is this? Are we reversing the entire Age of Enlightenment and Reason and the Renaissance? How far back into the Dark Ages must we be thrown before they’re satisfied?

and … Where do all these nuts keep coming from? Only monsters could raise monsters like these!

I’ve switched to Fauvism for awhile and peak Beatles during the psychedelics’ period because we all can see the wild and I’d rather have the artistic version of it than the political.

So first up on the crazy list is the literal crazy and definite cult member. This woman is basically Aunt Lydia. Her church was the basis of Hand Maid’s Tale. “What is People of Praise? A look inside Amy Coney Barrett’s church that inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'” She’s on the short list but there are “safer” alternatives if you want to call them that because either way were fucked because most of the Republicans who said they’d never vote for a SCOTUS nomination so close to elections have folded like cheap deckchairs on the Titanic.

So, catch this:

Apart from being an attorney, Barrett and her family are members of a controversial church called People of Praise. The church asks members to take a “lifetime loyalty ‘covenant’, encourages female submission to their husbands”, as reported by Daily Mail. The church also inspired ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, a show that gained popularity when it first made its debut in 2017. The church was formed as part of the Catholic revitalization movement in 1971, and at least 10 members from Barrett’s family are part of it. Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, is part of the board of members of the church. They are believed to be the “highest authority”.

The website of the church calls themselves “a charismatic Christian community. We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community”. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and “there were no needy persons among them”. Each member of the church is allotted a “personal adviser” who helps them with the “decisions on marriage, career, and other life choices”. Apart from this, the members are also asked to give out other information, such as sins committed by them, their financial information. While they are being called advisors, previously these people were known as “heads” for males and “handmaids” for females. The outlet further reports that the church believes the husband has authority over his wife. While members of the church had to make a lifelong commitment, they were given time to think about their decision.

Self-Portrait with a Hat - Andre Derain

Self-Portrait with a Hat – Andre Derain

(e.g. It’s a cult) OR we get the choice of all the Republican Whackados in Florida pushing this one because, well every one wants to win Florida in November. Plus, she’s Cubano and is one of those that carefully hides what she wants to do which seems to appeal to Susan Collins. From Politico: “Florida Republicans: Nominating Lagoa could clinch state for Trump. Top GOP leaders in the nation’s largest swing state say the Cuban-American federal judge could win Hispanic votes and shield vulnerable members of Congress.”

But it’s Lagoa’s background as a Florida Cuban-American that could have the most salience for Trump. His reelection hinges on the too-close-to-call battleground state, where his campaign has made outreach to Hispanic voters a top issue, worrying some Democrats.

“If the president picks Barbara Lagoa, they will be dancing salsa with joy in Hialeah well past November,” said Gaetz, referring to Lagoa’s home town, a blue-collar majority Cuban-American city that borders Miami and leans Republican.

Lagoa, a 52-year-old Columbia Law School graduate and mother of three children, emerged this weekend as a leading contender to take the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the liberal stalwart who died Friday at the age of 87.

Lagoa is no lock for the post, however. She’s a relative unknown compared to the favorite of Washington’s conservative establishment anti-abortion groups, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who became a darling of the religious right after her bruising federal confirmation fight in 2017. Barrett and Lagoa are both high on the president’s short list for the post, officials with knowledge of the process told POLITICO.

In contrast, Lagoa’s views on abortion are little known. She had no high-profile rulings on the matter in the nearly 500 decisions she wrote as a state appeals court judge or in other decisions during her brief time on the Florida Supreme Court justice and, since late last year, a judge on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Portrait of a Woman Maurice de Vlaminck

The ever location of both siderisms–The NYT–reports this today: “Trump and Democrats Brace for Showdown Over Supreme Court Seat. The president’s determination to confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election set lawmakers on a collision course as Congress deals with other major issues.” This is written by the dynamic duo of both-siderisms: Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman. S0, here’s Joe Biden’s side.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential challenger, on Sunday denounced Mr. Trump’s decision to move ahead with a nomination and appealed to the handful of moderate Senate Republicans to stop the president from making a lifetime appointment that would shift the balance of power on the nation’s highest court without waiting to see the results of the election.

“To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power,” Mr. Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia, noting that Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, citing the coming election. “I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it. President Trump has already made it clear this is about power, pure and simple.”

If Mr. Trump wins the race, Mr. Biden added, then the Senate should consider his choice. “But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn,” said Mr. Biden, who has promised to make his first appointment to the Supreme Court an African-American woman. “As the new president, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.”

So, it is exactly as Mary Ziegler describes it.

The Supreme Court seems strangely immune to the bitterness that plagues our politics. Even now, when Americans can no longer agree on basic facts, the Court’s relative popularity has endured. Following Donald Trump’s 2016 election, the Court has what may be its most conservative majority in decades. And yet this August, the Supreme Court recorded its highest approval rating since 2009.

But there are so many ways that the current moment could turn out very badly for the Court. First off, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems ready to test just how much damage the Court’s institutional integrity can take. In 2016, McConnell refused to hold hearings for Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, because the next election was too close. Then, within hours of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, McConnell vowed to replace her before the next election.

Ginsburg, of course, was no ordinary justice. She was a hero to many. McConnell’s speed in replacing her comes across as not merely unseemly; to many who admired the late justice, it will also be a declaration of war.

Regardless of what McConnell does, the Court now looks far more conservative than the electorate. That too doesn’t bode well for the Court’s legitimacy, especially when the justices could once again decide the result of a presidential election. The Court may have to wade into one of the hundreds of voting-rights lawsuits triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have followed fights about whether the president has deliberately crippled the U.S. Postal Service to make it harder to vote. Republicans have claimed (without evidence) that mail-in voting will lead to massive fraud and have sued to stop it.

Henri Matisse, Femme au chapeau (Donna con cappello), 1905

I’m not so certain that matters to the theocrats the Republicans spent decades placing carefully on the court to punish women, religious minorities, people of color and the GLBT for daring to think they could be equal to White Christianist Men.

So, want some new crazy by a White Christianist Man in charge of the DOJ? And straight from the DOJ: “Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property

Identification is Response to Presidential Memorandum Reviewing Federal Funding to State and Local Governments that are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities ”

Self-Portrait, 2014 Leudy Marquez – Fauvism Collages

This WAPO analysis was written by Devlin Barrett.

The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.

Following a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

The Trump administration was unsuccessful in a similar funding-cut move against New York and other cities over their immigration policies. A federal appeals court ruled that the move violated the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution.

So, I would like a little peace and quiet and boring ol’ Joe Biden sounds better all the time. But, we also need to concentrate on getting rid of this asshole: Mitch McConnell is the apex predator of U.S. politics” by Howard Fineman.

Historian Rick Perlstein has long described this chapter in the American story as “Nixonland,” a jagged terrain of White racial fear and populist resentment of the federal authority that began in the mid-1960s. But while GOP presidents from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have tilled that soil when it suited their purposes, McConnell has been, over the years, its most constant gardener, mixing arcane, cynically hypocritical legislative procedure and judicial appointments to turn emotion into lasting policy.

He has jammed hundreds of conservative judges onto the federal bench, making it younger, Whiter and more male — and far more partisan — in the process. In concert with the Federalist Society, McConnell is transforming the federal judiciary from sometimes-defenders of the poor, immigrants and people of color into the Praetorian Guard of corporations, the wealthy, and those whose cultural and racial privileges make them, at best, oblivious to their collective responsibility to all Americans. At the same time, McConnell is standing in the schoolhouse door of dozens if not hundreds of pieces of needed legislation, rendering the “world’s greatest deliberative body” an empty pantomime of itself.

And if he succeeds in forcing another pliable justice onto the Supreme Court, he may prove responsible for undercutting whatever legitimacy a possibly disputed presidential election might have if, as many suspect, it must be settled by that court. One reason to move fast and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority? To take the relatively independent (and therefore unreliable) Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. out of the equation.

McConnell has been around so long people think they know him. But they don’t, and that is by design. When you are the apex predator of U.S. politics, you don’t really care what anyone thinks. In Kentucky, where I worked for six years as McConnell was beginning his rise, he is not so much loved as endured. People talk about him like the rainy Ohio River Valley weather: It’s a pain, but it waters the crops. He retains an iron grip on state politics, has been elected statewide six times and is likely to win a seventh term in November. Democrats are pouring millions into defeating him. It’s not a great bet.

Image may contain: text that says 'CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS BY ADMINISTRATION 76 26 215 16 Donald Trump Richard Nixon Ronald Reagan George W. Bush Bill Clinton George H.W. Bush Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford Barack Obama 2 1 1 1 0 50 100 150 200 250'

My best strategy offer is to get him out of the Senate Majority Seat. We need to make sure Republicans go down where we can make them go down and Susan Collins and Martha McSally are at the top of my list. Which brings me back to the idea of why so many white women sell the rest of the women of the world out?

Oh, well, I close here before I have to go curl up in a ball and suck my thumb.

Be safe and stay home if you can as much as possible! Be kind to yourself and others! Check in and let us know you’re safe because we care!

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Bette Davis

Good Morning!!

I’m not an economist, but I’m going to post some economic news today. Dakinikat is an economist, and maybe she will weigh in on what’s happening.

Talks between Democratic Congressional leaders and Trump administration representatives have broken down.

CNN: Stimulus talks break down on Capitol Hill as negotiators walk away without a deal.

Negotiations over the next stimulus package intended to bolster the economy and help struggling Americans pay their bills have stalled on Capitol Hill with Democrats and Trump administration officials walking away after talks broke down on Friday and devolved into partisan finger-pointing.

At a hastily scheduled news conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club Friday evening, President Donald Trump laid out the executive actions he said he would pursue if Congress does not reach a deal.

No additional discussions are planned after nearly two weeks of daily meetings, and lead White House negotiators Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said they were recommending Trump move ahead with a series of executive orders.

Trump said Friday the actions would include a payroll tax deferment, extending unemployment benefits, extending an eviction moratorium and deferring student loan payments and forgiving their interest.

It’s not at all clear to me that any of this would be legal, especially cutting the payroll tax, which would starve Social Security and Medicare. Trump is obviously dying to do that. Back to the CNN story:

Cher

Trump said “they’re talking about” deferring the payroll tax until the end of the year. “And I can extend it at a certain period … and it will be retroactive until July 1,” he said. “I’m going to enhance unemployment benefits through the end of the year,” he added, without specifying any amount.

But the executive orders are expected to meet fierce resistance from Democrats who plan to challenge them in court. Democrats warn that executive action taken will be insufficient to address the extent of the economic and public health crisis faced by Americans during the pandemic.

CNN: Coronavirus has already dealt a blow to Social Security’s finances. Trump’s payroll tax holiday could make it worse.

This isn’t a far-off problem that retirees’ grandchildren would face. If this economic downturn is as bad as the Great Recession a decade ago, then the Social Security trust funds could run out of money in 2029, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. After that, beneficiaries could see a 31% cut in retirement payments.

The program’s trustees had projected earlier this year that the trust funds would be depleted in 2035, but that did not take the coronavirus pandemic into account.

It would be the first time the estimated insolvency date was within a decade since the crisis of the 1980s, which prompted several changes, including raising the retirement age, said Shai Akabas, the center’s director of economy policy.

“An already urgent situation has become even more pressing,” Akabas said, noting the severe drop in payroll tax revenue. “We expect that that trend is going to continue for many years as it takes the labor market to recover.”

Donna Reed

From Business Insider: Trump implementing a payroll tax cut through executive order would blow a hole in Social Security and Medicare’s finances, economists warn.

“Trump’s scheme would weaken the Social Security and Medicare trust funds by diverting the revenue from the employee portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and potentially the employer’s share of Medicare taxes, from the programs’ trust funds,” the memo from the Center for American Progress said.

Earlier this year, Congress deferred the employer-portion of the Social Security tax (6.2%) through 2022 under the CARES Act. But they replaced the lost money with an infusion of general Treasury funds.

Trump, the memo said, lacks the authority to appropriate funds, which is Congress’s purview.

Many economists say that implementing a payroll tax cut through an executive order wouldn’t lead to a bump in wages for most workers, since the executive branch can only defer tax payments up to a year and not forgive them. Wiping out the payment requires Congress to act.

Legally, employers remain on the hook for any delayed payment. Firms would likely keep the money since they fear being saddled with a hefty tax bill if Congress didn’t move to forgive it.

Obviously, the fact that this would be illegal won’t stop Trump from trying it.

Paul Krugman weighs in on the economic crisis we face: Coming Next: The Greater Recession. Krugman argues that without a second stimulus package being enacted very soon the economy is going to get much worse.

I’m not sure how many people realize just how much deeper the coronavirus recession of 2020 could have been. Obviously it was terrible: Employment plunged, and real G.D.P. fell by around 10 percent. Almost all of that, however, reflected the direct effects of the pandemic, which forced much of the economy into lockdown.

Ava Gardner, 1946

What didn’t happen was a major second round of job losses driven by plunging consumer demand. Millions of workers lost their regular incomes; without federal aid, they would have been forced to slash spending, causing millions more to lose their jobs. Luckily Congress stepped up to the plate with special aid to the unemployed, which sustained consumer spending and kept the nonquarantined parts of the economy afloat.

Furthermore, evidence from austerity policies a decade ago suggests a substantial “multiplier” effect, as spending cuts lead to falling incomes, leading to further spending cuts.

Put it all together and the expiration of emergency aid could produce a 4 percent to 5 percent fall in G.D.P. But wait, there’s more. States and cities are in dire straits and are already planning harsh spending cuts; but Republicans refuse to provide aid, with Trump insisting, falsely, that local fiscal crises have nothing to do with Covid-19.

Bear in mind that the coronavirus itself — a shock that came out of the blue, though the United States mishandled it terribly — reduced G.D.P. by “only” around 10 percent. What we’re looking at now may be another shock, a sort of economic second wave, almost as severe in monetary terms as the first. And unlike the pandemic, this shock will be entirely self-generated, brought on by the fecklessness of President Trump and — let’s give credit where it’s due — Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.

In other news, Chief Justice John Roberts is showing his true colors when it comes to abortion.

Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate Magazine: John Roberts’ Stealth Attack on Abortion Rights Just Paid Off.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in June Medical v. Russo was hailed by many liberal court watchers as a win for reproductive rights, as the court declined to overturn Roe v. Wade and formally eliminate the right to an abortion. On Friday, however, a federal appeals court ruled that June Medical significantly narrowed the constitutional right to abortion access. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel swept away an injunction that had blocked Arkansas from enforcing a slew of abortion restrictions, including a requirement that patients pregnant as a result of rape notify their rapists before terminating their pregnancy. The appellate court’s decision confirms that Chief Justice John Roberts’ controlling opinion in June Medical will serve as a tool to eviscerate abortion rights. Those who briefly heralded him as a champion of reproductive freedom were too caught up in the halftime show to see the game.

Olivia de Havilland

Friday’s ruling in Hopkins v. Jegley greenlights four Arkansas regulations passed in 2017. The first of these laws requires clinics to report the names of abortion patients under 18 to local law enforcement. These clinics must then preserve the fetal tissue and treat it like criminal evidence. The second law forces abortion providers to spend “reasonable time and effort” acquiring a patient’s medical records for her “entire pregnancy history” before performing the abortion. The third law grants equal rights over fetal remains to both partners, with no exception in cases of rape. A patient must notify her partner before the abortion and ask which method of disposal he prefers. If both partners are minors, the patient’s parents get to decide how fetal remains are disposed of. If the patient is a minor but her partner is an adult, then he—not the patient—makes the choice. These rules effectively prohibit medication abortion, which occurs at home, where the provider cannot control the disposal of fetal remains. The fourth and final law bans the safest and most common procedure for second-trimester abortions.

Abortion rights advocates challenged this legislation, arguing that they impose an unconstitutional burden on abortion access. A federal district court agreed in 2017, and blocked the new regulations. In Friday’s decision, three Republican-appointed judges on the 8th Circuit cleared away that injunction. The lower court had analyzed the laws under Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the 2016 Supreme Court decision that required courts to weigh the medical benefits of an abortion restriction against its burdens. But the Supreme Court’s decision last month in June Medical, the 8th Circuit wrote, overturned that standard.

One more story, just for laughs: Jerry Falwell Jr. was forced out of his job as president of Liberty University because of that photo he posted of himself with his pants unzipped and his arm around a woman with her pants also unzipped. Politico: Falwell placed on ‘indefinite leave’ from Liberty University.

Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Donald Trump’s leading evangelical supporters, has agreed to take “an indefinite leave of absence” from his role as president of Liberty University after the release of a viral photo that showed him vacationing on a yacht with his pants unzipped, holding a drink, and with his arm around a woman.

Lauren Bacall

“The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr. take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately,” the university said in a statement on Friday.

The decision came a day after a top House Republican called on Falwell to resign as president of the large Christian school. Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the vice chair of the House Republican Conference and a former pastor, said that Falwell’s “ongoing behavior is appalling.”

Falwell earlier in the week was widely condemned, including by some conservatives, for posting and then deleting the yacht vacation photo. Liberty University has a strict code of conduct for students that, among other things, prohibits students from having sexual relations outside of a “biblically-ordained” marriage and consuming media with lewd lyrics, sexual content and nudity.

At Slate, Ruth Graham explains Why That Falwell Jr. Yacht Photo Was the Final Straw.

Students on Liberty’s campus are forbidden from drinking alcohol, and are instructed to dress modestly. A poster on Reddit compiled Falwell Jr.’s potential violations in the yacht photograph and an accompanying video, and calculated that a student captured in the same scene could have accrued more than $9,000 in school fines and 900 hours of required service, and possible expulsion.

Faculty and alumni who have been critical of the school’s direction under Falwell Jr. were both shocked and gratified by the news of his leave of absence. “For at least a decade, Liberty’s faculty have labored under Falwell’s increasingly autocratic leadership and been shamed by his public behavior besides,” said Marybeth Davis Baggett, who taught English at Liberty for 17 years and resigned this spring after publishing an op-ed calling for Falwell Jr.’s removal based on his handling of the coronavirus crisis. “One man cannot act this way without many enablers, and any meaningful reform of the school will require a thorough and brutally honest inquiry into the LU culture.”

Jane Fonda, photo by Genevieve Naylor, 1962

Falwell Jr., a businessman with a law degree and no pastoral experience, took over the college when his father died in 2007. He has built the school into a sports powerhouse with a campus filled with luxury amenities, and conservative activists and politicians regularly speak there. The school now boasts more than 15,000 residential students, and more than 100,000 students online.

But Liberty has also been under almost constant national scrutiny since Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump in early 2016, months earlier than other white evangelical leaders embraced the crude casino magnate’s candidacy. Falwell Jr. began 2020 by calling for parts of Virginia to secede from the state and join West Virginia. As the coronavirus crisis encroached, Falwell Jr. initially dismissed it as “hype,” and called a Liberty parent who questioned him on Twitter a “dummy.” He was then criticized for welcoming back any students who wanted to return to campus after spring break. (Fewer than 2,000 of 15,000 residential students ultimately returned, and Liberty has avoided any outbreaks.) In May, Falwell Jr. tweeted a racist image in an attempt to needle Virginia governor Ralph Northam. He eventually deleted the tweet and apologized, but multiple Black employees publicly quit their jobs soon afterward; several high-profile Black athletes also departed. None of these media dust-ups seemed to dent Falwell Jr.’s favorability in the eyes of his hand-picked board of trustees.

There’s much more at the link if you’re interested.

So everything is still FUBAR, but as Dakinikat wrote yesterday, we can still be kind to ourselves and support each other through these terrifying times. As I learned in my recovery from alcoholism, it always helps to live one day at a time. We’re still here, and there’s still a chance we can rid ourselves of Trump and somehow hold onto and rebuild our democracy.