Mostly Bookish Monday Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m searching for some reads outside the realm of the current attention hogs.  Let’s see what I can come up with!

The first one was shared by a friend that hit home with me. This is from the Washington Post.  It’s a project I’ve been trying to do for a while, but I start and stop a lot. “We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking.  ‘They’re more like friends than objects,’ one passionate bookseller says. What are we to do with our flooded shelves?”

Humorist and social critic Fran Lebowitz owns 12,000 books, mostly fiction, kept in 19th-century wooden cases with glass doorsin her New York apartment. “Constitutionally, I am unable to throw a book away. To me, it’s like seeing a baby thrown in a trash can,” she says. “I am a glutton for print. I love books in every way. I love them more than most human beings.” If there’s a book she doesn’t want, Lebowitz, 72, will spend months deciding whom to give it to.

“I kept accumulating books. My life was overflowing with books. I’d have to live to 150 to reread these books,” says Martha Frankel, a writer and director of the Woodstock Bookfest. She amassed 3,600 — and that was just in the office that she closed in 2018 — “but the idea of getting rid of these books made me nauseous.”

America is saturated with old books, congesting Ikea Billy cases, Jengaing atop floors, Babeling bedside tables. During months of quarantine, book lovers faced all those spines and opportunities for multiple seasons of spring cleaning. They adore these books, irrationally, unconditionally, but know that, ultimately, if they don’t decide which to keep, it will be left to others to unceremoniously dump them.

So, despite denial, grief, bargaining, anguish and even nausea, the Great Deaccession commenced.

When Dr. Daughter entered Kindergarten, she came home crying about an assignment.  When asked what the assignment was, I realized the gargantuan task in front of her. Her father and I were massive book collectors. We had bookcases filled with books in just about every room of our 4 bedroom, a two-story house with a mostly finished basement. I calmed her down saying that I’d write a note explaining that there were literally hundreds of books all over the house and that she should focus on counting the books in her room.  She already had plenty.  Assignment completed!  End of tears!

I’m still reeling from how incorporating all Americans into every walk of life intimidates a sizeable chunk of the wipipo population. This article in Slate from Dahlia Lithwick drew my attention immediately. “What One Black Judge’s Family History Can Teach Us About Justice. This is why representation matters.”

I had been thinking about all of this when I contemplated the recent portrait ceremony of Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Wilkins was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2014, where he sat alongside then-Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. On Oct. 14, his official portrait was hung at the court, in a ceremony typically representing one of the highlights of a judge’s tenure on the bench.

Wilkins was born on Oct. 2, 1963, in Muncie, Indiana, to Joyce Hayes Wilkins and John Wilkins. After he earned his J.D. from Harvard in 1989, he spent over a decade at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia—first as a staff attorney, and later as special litigation chief. He left the practice of law to work full time to help establish and create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2016, Wilkins authored Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

What struck me most about Wilkins’ speech was that he used it to detail a sometimes submerged narrative about the complicated meaning of freedom: He told the story of his own family’s long journey through U.S. constitutional history, a very different encounter with the Framers’ ideas about freedom and justice.

Excerpts from his remarks at that event are reprinted, with Wilkins’ permission, below.

My maternal grandmother, Marcella Hayes, was with us during my investiture to become a District Court Judge. She has now gone on to glory. She was a documenter of our family history, and I inherited that habit from her. Inspired by my Grannyma, I have traced the maternal side of my family back six generations, to my great-great-great-great grandmother, Edie Saulsbury. Edie was born sometime around 1810, when James Madison, considered by many the father of our Constitution, was President of these United States. She was born into slavery, and thus was not even considered a “person” within the meaning of Madison’s Constitution. She was impregnated by a white man at the tender age of 16, where the legal system did not even define the rape of a Black woman by a white man as a crime, did not allow a Black person to testify in court against the white person anyway, and made it a crime punishable by 30 lashes on the bare back for a Black person to raise a hand against a white person, even to defend oneself from being ravished. Edie gave birth to that child, a boy named Alexander, who would endure a life of slavery. She would later give birth to 12 more children, conceived with my fourth great grandfather, a man named David, who was enslaved and belonged to a neighboring family.

My father, John Wilkins, passed away almost 40 years ago. But he is here through me and my brother Larry, and through my many cousins and other relatives on the Wilkins side here today. I have also been able to trace my paternal side back six generations. My paternal grandfather’s name was Rev. George R. Wilkins. His maternal grandfather, my great-great grandfather, was named George Richardson. George Richardson was born in 1848, and, when asked, during the 1900 census, he reported to the census taker that he was born in South Carolina, his mother was born in South Carolina, but that his father was born “at sea.” Think about that: The most plausible explanation for this series of events is that George Richardson’s father, my great- great-great grandfather, was born aboard a slave ship. That would also mean that—six generations back—my fourth great grandmother delivered my third great grandfather in the filthy bowels of a slave vessel. I have not yet been able to determine my fourth great grandmother‘s name, but for the moment, let’s call her Nancy. George Richardson named one of his daughters Nancy, so perhaps he did so in honor of his grandma.

Consider for a moment the circumstances under which those two of my fourth-great grandmothers, Edie and Nancy, lived and brought children into this world. Circumstances of kidnapping, coercion, abuse and despair. And all that vile treatment was absolutely legal. All of it was condoned and facilitated by Madison’s Constitution.

I recommend reading all of it.

Politico has this lede today. “‘THE central issue’: How the fall of Roe v. Wade shook the 2022 election. More than 50 Democratic and Republican elected officials, campaign aides and consultants took POLITICO inside the first campaign after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.” Authors Elena Schneider and Holly Otterbein argue that it’s the decision that handed so many elections to the Democratic Party and defied the historical trend of the out party sweeping elections on the off presidentional year.

On May 4, less than 48 hours after a draft opinion was published showing the Supreme Court was poised to end the federal right to abortion, a group of eight strangers gathered around a conference table in the Detroit suburbs to talk about the news.

They were all white women, mostly in their 30s to 50s and without college degrees. Their home county, Macomb, had voted for President Barack Obama twice and President Donald Trump twice. In the upcoming gubernatorial race, they were undecided, frustrated by how Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer had handled the pandemic.

But when it came to the possibility of abortion being illegal, there was no equivocation: The women were stunned — and enraged.

It was the kind of conversation women everywhere were having with their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. But behind a glass window in that conference room and tuning in over Zoom, a half-dozen consultants and staffers from Whitmer’s reelection campaign and the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List listened to likely the first Democratic focus group conducted in the wake of the report.

The moderator peppered the women with questions about the draft opinion and the possibility it would trigger a 1931 law outlawing nearly all abortions in Michigan. Then she turned to a recent comment from a Republican candidate that the Whitmer team had considered relatively tame, compared to other GOP reactions. Businessman Kevin Rinke had said that when it came to pregnancy, “There are choices that go into our lives, and there’s cause and effect, so people maybe need to consider their choices.”

The remark “elicited a lot of, ‘Fuck this guy and fuck all the guys out there who think they know better than women,’” said Molly Murphy, the Democratic pollster who moderated the discussion in early May. “This was not just about rape and incest and ‘no exceptions,’ which is obviously all very important, but it said so much more about control, about politicians who think they know better than these women — it added a layer to this that none of us were expecting.”

One Republican Congressman elected to the House for the first time from New York State seems to have completely fabricated his work,education, and life history.  This is from the New York Times. “Who Is Rep.-Elect George Santos? His Résumé May Be Largely Fiction. Mr. Santos, a Republican from New York, says he’s the “embodiment of the American dream.” But he seems to have misrepresented a number of his career highlights.

George Santos, whose election to Congress on Long Island last month helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, built his candidacy on the notion that he was the “full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others.

His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.

He also has a record of check fraud dating back to his days in Brazil. If you read their investigation, you’ll see that he’s a cipher. Nothing he told the public is true.  This is a fascinating mystery.

His appearance earlier this month at a gala in Manhattan attended by white nationalists and right-wing conspiracy theorists underscored his ties to Mr. Trump’s right-wing base.

At the same time, new revelations uncovered by The Times — including the omission of key information on Mr. Santos’s personal financial disclosures, and criminal charges for check fraud in Brazil — have the potential to create ethical and possibly legal challenges once he takes office.

Mr. Santos did not respond to repeated requests from The Times that he furnish either documents or a résumé with dates that would help to substantiate the claims he made on the campaign trail. He also declined to be interviewed, and neither his lawyer nor Big Dog Strategies, a Republican-oriented political consulting group that handles crisis management, responded to a detailed list of questions.

NBC News reports that the Jan. 6 committee is finalizing its report.

The House Jan. 6 committee met Sunday to finalize its plans to issue at least three criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump, NBC News has learned exclusively.

The committee, gathering publicly Monday, is expected to vote on referrals asking the Justice Department to pursue at least three criminal charges against Trump related to the Capitol riot: obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said in part during the meeting overheard by NBC News that he believed referrals were “warranted.” A source familiar with the committee’s plans told NBC News about the meeting and its location in the Capitol complex.

The Jan. 6th committee will broadcast its final public meeting live today at noon est. This reporting is from CNN where you can get live updates once the meeting starts.

Nearly two years removed from the violent attack on the US Capitol, the House select committee tasked with finding out exactly what happened is about to show its hand.

The panel will hold its final public meeting on Monday, followed by the release of its full report on Wednesday.

Unlike previous gatherings of the committee, Monday’s is a business meeting rather than a hearing as no witnesses are set to testify.

What to expect from the session: The public meeting, scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, is expected to see the panel announce that it will refer at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department.

The committee will release an executive summary of the investigation’s report on Monday after the meeting, a committee aide said Sunday. The final report, to be released two days later, will provide justification from the panel’s investigation for recommending the charges.

Why now? Republicans are expected to dissolve the panel when they take over the House in January.

So, I did end on some Trumpy news but it didn’t involve much Trumpyisms so I hope that’s okay.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?