Lazy Caturday Reads

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Spooked, by Chiakiro

Good Morning!!

Bill Clinton is still in a California hospital being treated for a urological infection that got into his bloodstream. The Guardian: Bill Clinton to remain in hospital as he recovers from urological infection.

The former US president Bill Clinton’s health is improving but he will remain in a California hospital for at least another night to receive antibiotics intravenously for a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream, his spokesperson said on Friday.

The 75-year-old Clinton, who served as president from 1993 to 2001, entered the University of California, Irvine, medical center on Tuesday evening after suffering from fatigue. He spoke with Joe Biden on Friday.

Clinton’s spokesperson Angel Ureña said that Clinton’s white blood count has decreased, indicating his health is improving.

“All health indicators are trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which was decreased significantly,” Ureña said on Twitter. “In order to receive further IV antibiotics, he will remain in the hospital overnight.”

Since his admission to the intensive care unit at the hospital, Clinton has received fluids along with antibiotics, his doctors said.

His wife, a former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, was at the hospital on Thursday and Friday, and the two read books and talked about politics, Ureña told Reuters.

It remained unclear when Clinton would be released.

Biden said Clinton would likely go home soon, though it was not clear whether he would be released on Saturday or later.

“He is getting out shortly. … Whether that’s tomorrow or the next day, I don’t know,” Biden told reporters in Connecticut. “He’s doing fine. He really is.”

aldemir-martins-gato-verde-acrilica-sobre-tela-14335

Aldemir Martins, Gato Verde (Green Cat)

NBC News has an explainer on the infection Clinton is fighting: What led to Bill Clinton’s hospitalization? Warning signs of the common infection.

The urologic infection that a source close to Bill Clinton says led to the former president’s hospitalization is common in older individuals and can be serious, experts say.

But when treated in a timely manner, the prognosis for such cases is excellent….

A source close to Clinton told NBC News that his initial diagnosis was a urologic infection that morphed into a broader infection.

While little else was immediately revealed about Clinton’s condition, including whether it originated in his urinary tract or elsewhere in the urinary system, experts who were not involved in his care said such spread of infection can be life-threatening without prompt medical attention.

“This is not uncommon. This is something we frequently treat in the emergency room, where somebody comes in with a urinary tract infection,” NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said Friday on the “TODAY” show. “Especially as they get older, their body is not able to contain that, so it moves from the urinary tract, from the bladder and the kidneys, into the bloodstream.”

At that point, Torres said, a patient is at risk of sepsis — a dangerous overdrive of the immune system in response to an infection — or septic shock, when organs start to fail.

Doctors must keep a close eye on these patients to make sure the strong antibiotics they are treating them with are lowering their white blood cell counts, which would indicate the infection is getting under control, said Dr. Ash Tewari, a urologist and prostate cancer specialist at Mount Sinai in New York.

Doctors will also work to identify any underlying conditions that may have led to the infection in the first place: a blockage, a kidney stone, even diabetes, Tewari said. Sometimes, procedures are necessary to prevent future recurrences.

More info at the NBC link.

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

Incatneato, by Jeff Haynie

This is a horrific story from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. That’s the backwoods part of the state Dakinikat has told us about. Raw Story: Three children attacked a Black woman. A sheriff’s deputy arrived — and beat her more.

The Jefferson Parish Shraeriff’s Office is investigating a deputy accused of holding a Black woman by her hair and slamming her head repeatedly into the pavement with such force that a witness to the Sept. 20 incident said it ripped several of Shantel Arnold’s braids from her scalp. A 14-second video captured the incident in the New Orleans suburb where, for decades, Black residents have accused the Sheriff’s Office of targeting them.

It was the second time that hour that Arnold had been assaulted. By the time the deputies arrived, she said she had already fended off an attack by some local boys.

In an interview, the 34-year-old Arnold, who has not been previously identified, told the news organizations she had needed the police’s protection. But protection is not what she got.

The video begins with a sheriff’s deputy seen holding the wrist of Arnold, who is lying on her back on the sidewalk. The deputy appears to be dragging her along the pavement. The deputy then grabs Arnold’s arm with his other hand and jerks her upward, lifting her body off the ground. They briefly disappear behind a parked white vehicle. When they come back into view, the deputy is holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the cement. At one point, he whips her down so violently her body spins around and flips over.

The footage ends as the deputy crouches down and places a knee onto Arnold’s back.

Arnold is only 4 feet eight inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds.

The incident started around 2 p.m. on Sept. 20 when Arnold was attacked by three boys as she was walking down the street near her family’s trailer home. At 4-foot-8 and about 100 pounds, her left eye missing from a car accident years earlier, Arnold regularly made an easy target for the neighborhood bullies, her family said.

During the attack, which lasted several minutes and was captured in a cellphone video, the boys slammed Arnold to the ground and beat her while a crowd watched and laughed. She tried to defend herself with a stick, which is visible in the video. The assault ended only after 71-year-old Lionel Gray, whom Arnold considers her stepfather, chased the boys away.

Disheveled and covered in dirt, Arnold stumbled down the road toward her home when an unidentified sheriff’s deputy rolled up beside her in his patrol car.

There’s more at the link. ProPublica has an expose on Jefferson Parish’s history of brutal racism: “They Saw Me and Thought the Worst.” For years, Black residents of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, have voiced complaints about abuses and a lack of accountability within its Sheriff’s Office.

remedios varo

Painting by Remedios Varo

At the New York times, another tale of government racism and crumbling infrastructure from Michigan: More Lead-Tainted Water in Michigan Draws Attention to Nation’s Aging Pipes.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — During the three years that officials have known about dangerous amounts of lead flowing from faucets in Benton Harbor, Mich., they have sent out notices, distributed filters and tried to improve water treatment. But the problems persisted, and some residents said they never heard about the risks of the toxic water coming from their taps.

Now, in scenes reminiscent of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., state officials have told Benton Harbor residents not to drink, cook or brush their teeth with tap water. Elected officials came to town Thursday promising help. And so many cars have turned out for bottled water giveaways that traffic has been snarled, a rarity in a place with 9,100 residents.

“It’s horrible to watch, to see my city like this,” Rosetta Valentine, 63, said as she directed traffic at a water distribution site where some people lined up nearly an hour before the event started.

Residents of Benton Harbor see parallels between their plight and the water crisis that unfolded less than three hours up the highway in Flint, also a majority-Black city, where a change in the water source in 2014 led to residents drinking contaminated water despite repeated assurances that it was safe. In Benton Harbor, where thousands of homes are connected to the water system by lead pipes, efforts to bring down problematic lead readings by using corrosion controls have so far failed, and officials have recently grown concerned that lead-removing filters given to residents since 2019 might not work.

The problems in Benton Harbor and Flint are extreme examples of a broader, national failure of water infrastructure that experts say requires massive and immediate investment to solve. Across the country, in cities like ChicagoPittsburgh and Clarksburg, W.Va., Americans are drinking dangerous quantities of brain-damaging lead as agencies struggle to modernize water treatment plants and launch efforts to replace the lead service lines that connect buildings to the water system. Health officials say there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Graceful Beauty, by Hans Ruettimann

Here’s some revenge porn for us Democrats by Molly Jong Fast at The Atlantic: Democrats Are Ready to Send Steve Bannon to Jail.

Congressional Democrats, who control both chambers and have a majority on the January 6 committee, can ask the House or Senate sergeant-at-arms to arrest Bannon. Yesterday afternoon, though, Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, announced that he will pursue a more moderate path: Next week, the committee will vote on whether to refer Bannon to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution.

“We fully intend to enforce” the subpoenas, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is one of two Republicans on the special committee, assured me. “That doesn’t come with the snap of a finger, but we will get to the bottom of these questions and pursue all avenues.”

Democrats want to uphold norms of interparty civility while also preventing Trump and his buddies from completely undermining democracy. But time is running out. The January 6 committee is one of Congress’s last chances to narrate the Capitol riots and the Trump administration’s efforts to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. The only way to fight fascism is with narrative, Masha Gessen, the writer and activist, once told me. The select-committee probe presents a real opportunity to do just that.

Enforcing the committee’s subpoenas isn’t a controversial idea, Representative Eric Swalwell of California told me. “We must enforce congressional subpoenas not just for holding insurrectionists accountable but to show everyone in America that we all follow the same rules,” he said. “If Bannon and company are above the law, why wouldn’t nonpublic figures toss their lawful subpoenas in the trash?”

Perhaps Bannon thinks that the committee won’t follow through, or that jail time might martyr him. He’s dodged consequences for alleged misconduct before. Last year, he faced prison for his role in the “We Build the Wall” scheme, which prosecutors said was fraudulent, but Trump granted him an 11th-hour pardon. At least he’s had some time to think about what he might have to pack.

Head over to The Atlantic to read the rest.

Toracat, by Chiakiro

Toracat, by Chiakiro

This is from Mary Ellen Cagnassola at Newsweek: Adam Schiff Says ‘People Like Steve Bannon’ Are Not ‘Above The Law’ Ahead of Contempt Vote.

The congressional committee tasked with investigating the January 6 Capitol Riots is closing in on top Trump ally and adviser Steve Bannon with an expected vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against the former White House aide for defying a subpoena.

Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who also sits on the January 6 committee, went as far as to say that he expects the Justice Department to prosecute.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who also sits on the January 6 panel, said he expects the Justice Department to prosecute the cases.

The chairman of the special committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the panel will vote Tuesday to recommend charges against Bannon, an adviser to Donald Trump for years who was in touch with the president ahead of the most serious assault on Congress in two centuries….

If approved by the Democratic-majority committee, the recommendation of criminal charges would go to the full House. Approval there would send them to the Justice Department, which has final say on prosecution.

The showdown with Bannon is just one facet of a broad and escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing to the committee and its staff. Challenging Bannon’s defiance is a crucial step for the panel, whose members are vowing to restore the force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Psycho Cat, by Jeff Haynie

Why is the committee waiting until Tuesday to hold the vote on Bannon? Because it will be televised in prime time. This is from The Palmer Report: Get your popcorn ready: the Steve Bannon criminal contempt proceedings will be in prime time. (Mainstream journalists hold this guy in contempt, but he is almost always right.)

Why is the January 6th Committee waiting until Tuesday to hold Steve Bannon’s criminal contempt hearing? Because they’re doing it in prime time and airing it in public. They’re going to make an example out of him as loudly as possible. Get your popcorn ready.

Of course no matter how forcefully the hearing is conducted, and no matter how serious the resulting criminal contempt referral is, we’ll still have to put up with the defeatists. Whatever the committee does, most pundits will naturally insist that it should have done the opposite, because that’s the only way that a lot of pundits feel they can keep themselves relevant.

And of course the defeatists will falsely insist that the Department of Justice “won’t do anything” and that Bannon will “get away with it all.” But at this point that kind of background whining is just par for the course.

What the whiniest of pundits and activists don’t get is that these kinds of hearings are not for their benefit. Their minds are already made up. The January 6th Committee, its actions, its hearings, and its conclusions are for the benefit of average Americans in the middle who know that something went wrong that day but want to be convinced of what specifically happened in painstaking fashion.

We’ll find out next week. I can’t wait.

I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. Have a nice weekend everyone!! 


Lazy Caturday Reads

Arthur's morning, by Vicky Mount

Arthur’s morning, by Vicky Mount

Good Morning!!

We’re heading into the long Labor Day weekend, but it isn’t quiet one on the news front. The angry reaction to the Texas abortion law continues, Louisiana and multiple states in the Northeast are still just beginning their recovery from Hurricane Ida, Covid-19 is worse than ever, thanks to GOP governors and antivaxxers, and right wing crazies are threatening another violent insurrection in Washington D.C. as well as further attacks on democratic elections.

Texas Abortion Law Stories

AP News: Judge shields Texas clinics from anti-abortion group’s suits.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A state judge has shielded, for now, Texas abortion clinics from lawsuits by an anti-abortion group under a new state abortion law in a narrow ruling handed down Friday.

The temporary restraining order Friday by state District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin in response to the Planned Parenthood request does not interfere with the provision. However, it shields clinics from whistleblower lawsuits by the nonprofit group Texas Right to Life, its legislative director and 100 unidentified individuals.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction request was set for Sept. 13.

The law, which took effect Wednesday, allows anyone anywhere to sue anyone connected to an abortion in which cardiac activity was detected in the embryo — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy before most women even realize they are pregnant.

Ralph Black Cat painting by Dora Hathazi

Ralph Black Cat painting by Dora Hathazi

CNBC: Lyft, Uber will cover legal fees for drivers sued under Texas abortion law.

Lyft and Uber said Friday they would cover legal fees for drivers on their respective platforms who are sued under Texas’ restrictive abortion law that went into effect this week….

“Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why. Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride,” Lyft said in a release.

“Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable,” Lyft added.

Lyft said its defense fund would cover 100% of legal fees incurred by drivers because of the law, being the first rideshare company to do so. The company will also donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Uber shortly followed by saying it would also cover fees.

The New York Times: TikTok Users and Coders Flood Texas Abortion Site With Fake Tips.

After a Texas law restricting abortion went into effect on Wednesday, the state’s largest anti-abortion group publicized a website that invited citizens to inform on the law’s violators.

The website, prolifewhistleblower.com, which was set up by the group Texas Right to Life, was designed to help carry out the new law. That’s because the law places enforcement not in the hands of state officials but with private citizens, who are deputized to sue anyone who performs or aids an abortion in violation of the law.

Tips about the law’s potential offenders quickly flooded into the website, which features an online form so people can anonymously submit reports of those who are illegally obtaining or facilitating abortions.

But some of the tips were a little unexpected.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who was a leading proponent of the abortion law, was a violator, according to some of the tips. The fictional characters from Marvel’s Avengers were also apparently seeking abortions, the reports said. Other tips did not point to individuals but instead contained copies of the entire script to the 2007 animated film “Bee Movie.”

The reports, which were obviously bogus, were the work of activists on TikTok, programmers, and Twitter and Reddit users who said they wanted to ensnarl the site’s administrators in fabricated data.

Hurricane Ida Aftermath

The New York Times: Satellite Images Find Oil Spill in Gulf Left in Ida’s Wake.

Cleanup crews are working to contain what experts called a substantial oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an examination of satellite and aerial survey images, ship tracking data and interviews with local officials and others involved in the spill response.

Manolo Ruiz-Pipo, 1957 Spanish, 1929–1998, The Little Girl with the Cat

Manolo Ruiz-Pipo, Spanish, 1929–1998, The Little Girl with the Cat, 1957

The spill, one of multiple plumes spotted off the Louisiana coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida, was identified in satellite imagery captured Thursday by the space technology companies Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies.

A black expanse and rainbow sheen of oil spanning at least 10 miles was spreading in coastal waters about two miles off Port Fourchon, an oil and gas hub. An aerial survey image of the spill was captured Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration….

It was unclear how much oil had spilled into the Gulf, according to a person with direct knowledge of the cleanup. The spill, possibly from an old pipeline no longer in use that was damaged by the storm, was first spotted on Monday from reconnaissance flights led by a number of Gulf Coast producers, and was reported to the Coast Guard, said the person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the cleanup effort.

Reuters: Why Hurricane Ida crippled the New Orleans power grid.

Hurricane Ida’s 150-mph winds crippled a Louisiana electric grid already vulnerable from aging transmission lines, electricity bottlenecks and $2 billion worth of damage caused by three hurricanes that hit last year.

Ida’s landfall on Sunday left a wake of destruction and suffering. More than 1 million customers were without electricity immediately after the storm – a hardship that, for some, could last weeks.

Entergy Corp (ETR.N), the largest Louisiana utility, is facing tough questions on whether it had done enough to harden the electric system, which lost eight major transmission lines delivering power to the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Entergy was in the midst of upgrades throughout its system after Hurricane Laura in 2020. From 2017 to 2019, Entergy’s Louisiana subsidiary spent about $1.2 billion on numerous projects to improve its transmission system.

A pivotal question now for Entergy and its consumers is how well those capital improvements survived the hurricane’s wrath compared to the company’s older infrastructure. Entergy declined to detail the age of the eight New Orleans-area transmission lines that failed.

Anatoly Merkushevvia

Painting by Anatoly Merkushevvia

NPR: Why Ida Hit The Northeast So Hard, 1,000 Miles Away From Its Landfall.

Hurricane Ida’s remnants created deadly havoc in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York days after the system hit the Gulf Coast — some 1,000 miles away.

There was “just the right mix of weather conditions” in place to fuel the system, according to Tripti Bhattacharya, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Syracuse University.

“A storm like this would have been exceptionally rare 20 or 50 years ago,” she told NPR. “But we have to start thinking about it becoming the norm as the climate warms.”

Bhattacharya’s research on regional rainfall and climate change was cited in the U.N.’s recent climate change report.

Click the link to read the interview.

Covid-19 News

The Washington Post: U.S. covid death toll hits 1,500 a day amid delta scourge.

Nationally, covid-19 deaths have climbed steadily in recent weeks, hitting a seven-day average of about 1,500 a day Thursday, after falling to the low 200s in early July — the latest handiwork of a contagious variant that has exploited the return to everyday activities by tens of millions of Americans, many of them unvaccinated. The dead include two Texas teachers at a junior high, who died last week within days of each other; a 13-year-old middle schoolboy from Georgia; and a nurse, 37, in Southern California who left behind five children, including a newborn.

What is different about this fourth pandemic wave in the United States is that the growing rates of vaccination and natural immunity have broken the relationship between infections and deaths in many areas.

The daily count of new infections is rising in almost every part of the country, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. But only some places — mostly Southern states with lower vaccination rates — are seeing a parallel surge in deaths. The seven-day average of daily deaths is about a third of what it was in January, the pandemic’s most deadly month, but it is forecast to continue rising as high numbers of patients are hospitalized.

Alberto Zampieri (Italian, 1903-1992) - Il bambino e il gatto (Boy with cat), 1952

Alberto Zampieri (Italian, 1903-1992) – Il bambino e il gatto (Boy with cat), 1952

Bloomberg: Florida’s Newly Reported Covid Deaths Jump to Pandemic Record.

Florida reported 2,345 additional Covid-19 deaths in its latest weekly report, the most ever in a similar period.

The daily average rose 36% to 335, according to calculations based on the report. That would surpass the high for the entire pandemic in Johns Hopkins University data. The data is based on when the death was reported, not when it occurred.

People 65-and-over accounted for 63% of the deaths reported in the period. Cumulatively over the entire pandemic, Florida seniors have made up 79% of deaths.

Raw Story: 15 Miami-Dade school staffers die of COVID in 10 days: report.

On Friday, NBC 6 Miami reported that 15 staffers and educators in the Miami-Dade County school system have died of COVID 19 — just in the past ten days.

“Sonia Diaz, a spokesperson for several unions in the school district, confirmed the number of deaths to NBC 6,” reported Johnny Archer. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools resumed classes on Aug. 23, and it’s unknown when the employees contracted COVID-19.”

The news comes as school districts and state governments around the country wrestle with how to handle the continued spread of the Delta variant.

The Washington Post: Here’s what we know about the mu variant.

A coronavirus variant known as “mu” or “B.1.621” was designated by the World Health Organization as a “variant of interest” earlier this week and will be monitored by the global health body as cases continue to emerge across parts of the world. It is the fifth variant of interest currently being monitored by the WHO….

The variant was first detected in Colombia in January 2021, where cases continue to rise. It has since been identified in more than 39 countries, according to the WHO, among them the United States, South Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Canada and parts of Europe….

About 2,000 mu cases have been identified in the United States, so far, according to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences in the world. Most cases have been recorded in California, Florida, Texas and New York among others.

However, mu is not an “immediate threat right now” within the United States, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci told a press briefing on Thursday. He said that while the government was “keeping a very close eye on it,” the variant was “not at all even close to being dominant” as the delta variant remains the cause of over 99 percent of cases in the country.

More Coronavirus stories:

Cincinnati.com: CDC classifies every Ohio county as ‘red’ for high levels of COVID-19 transmission.

Katherine J. Wu at The Atlantic: What We Actually Know About Waning Immunity.

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic: The Masks Were Working All Along. Now we have definitive proof that masks really are effective.

Trump Supporters’ Threats on Democracy

Ellie Silverman at The Washington Post: Former Trump campaign operative plans rally for those charged in Capitol riot.

Law enforcement authorities are monitoring plans by supporters of former president Donald Trump to rally outside the U.S. Capitol later this month to argue that the hundreds of people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection are political prisoners, an assertion that has exploded beyond far-right rallying cries and into mainstream conservatism.

A girl with a black cat - Frida Holleman Dutch 1908-1999

A girl with a black cat – Frida Holleman Dutch 1908-1999

Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group founded and led by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, is planning a “Justice for J6” rally on Sept. 18 to bring its message to Washington. Braynard’s followers believe many of the more than 570 people who have been charged with federal crimes in the attack were nonviolent and “reasonably believed they had permission” to enter the Capitol, according to a Jan. 29 letter Braynard sent to the Department of Justice and FBI. Braynard’s letter demands prosecutors drop all charges.

Braynard’s group requested to hold its rally at Union Square, the public park by the Capitol Reflecting Pool, according to a permit application his group submitted to the U.S. Capitol Police Board and provided to The Washington Post. Although local authorities have not provided crowd estimates, Look Ahead America estimates that 700 people will attend — up from an earlier estimate of 500 in a previous permit application. Plans for a counterprotest began to circulate online this week.

D.C. police, Capitol Police and U.S. Park Police met with the group on Wednesday so that the group could answer questions about its permit request. The conference call seemed to be the next phase in the process, but authorities have not yet granted a permit for the event, Kimmie Gonzalez, the group’s director of government affairs who attended the meeting, said in an interview Thursday.

The permit application described the event as “a peaceful demonstration of our First Amendment rights.”

The planned rally comes as the city is still recovering from three attacks in eight months in the nation’s capital. A violent mob stormed the seat of the U.S. government on Jan. 6, disrupting Congress from confirming President Biden’s election victory and resulting in the deaths of five people. In April, a man rammed his car into a barricade outside the building, killing a Capitol police officer, and last month, a man threatening that he had a bomb parked a truck near the Capitol and demanded to speak to Biden

ProPublica: Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections.

One of the loudest voices urging Donald Trump’s supporters to push for overturning the presidential election results was Steve Bannon. “We’re on the point of attack,” Bannon, a former Trump adviser and far-right nationalist, pledged on his popular podcast on Jan. 5. “All hell will break loose tomorrow.” The next morning, as thousands massed on the National Mall for a rally that turned into an attack on the Capitol, Bannon fired up his listeners: “It’s them against us. Who can impose their will on the other side?”

Sekino Jun'ichirô (Japanese, 1914 - 1988) Boy holding a cat

Sekino Jun’ichirô (Japanese, 1914 – 1988) Boy holding a cat

When the insurrection failed, Bannon continued his campaign for his former boss by other means. On his “War Room” podcast, which has tens of millions of downloads, Bannon said President Trump lost because the Republican Party sold him out. “This is your call to action,” Bannon said in February, a few weeks after Trump had pardoned him of federal fraud charges.

The solution, Bannon announced, was to seize control of the GOP from the bottom up. Listeners should flood into the lowest rung of the party structure: the precincts. “It’s going to be a fight, but this is a fight that must be won, we don’t have an option,” Bannon said on his show in May. “We’re going to take this back village by village … precinct by precinct.”

Precinct officers are the worker bees of political parties, typically responsible for routine tasks like making phone calls or knocking on doors. But collectively, they can influence how elections are run. In some states, they have a say in choosing poll workers, and in others they help pick members of boards that oversee elections.

After Bannon’s endorsement, the “precinct strategy” rocketed across far-right media. Viral posts promoting the plan racked up millions of views on pro-Trump websites, talk radio, fringe social networks and message boards, and programs aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Suddenly, people who had never before showed interest in party politics started calling the local GOP headquarters or crowding into county conventions, eager to enlist as precinct officers. They showed up in states Trump won and in states he lost, in deep-red rural areas, in swing-voting suburbs and in populous cities.

Read the rest at ProPublica.

That’s my news summary for today. Take care Sky Dancers!!


Lazy Caturday Reads

Gathering storm, Karen Comber

Gathering Storm, by Karen Comber

Good Morning!!

Hurricane Ida is bearing down on Louisiana on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, the seawall protections are better now and Joe Biden is president instead of George W. Bush.

AP News: Ida aims to hit Louisiana on Hurricane Katrina anniversary.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Ida struck Cuba on Friday and threatened to slam into Louisiana with devastating force over the weekend, prompting evacuations in New Orleans and across the coastal region.

Ida intensified rapidly Friday from a tropical storm to a hurricane with top winds of 80 mph (128 kph) as it crossed western Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico. The National Hurricane Center predicted Ida would strengthen into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with top winds of 140 mph (225 kph) before making landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast late Sunday.

“This will be a life-altering storm for those who aren’t prepared,” National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said during a Friday news conference with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The governor urged residents to quickly prepare, saying: “By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to be to ride out the storm.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered a mandatory evacuation for a small area of the city outside the levee system. But with the storm intensifying so much over a short time, she said it wasn’t possible to do so for the entire city. That generally calls for using all lanes of some highways to leave the city.

Orange cat, vicky mount

Orange Cat, by Vicky Mount

“The city cannot order a mandatory evacuation because we don’t have the time,” Cantrell said.

City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours.

Other areas across the coastal region were under a mix of voluntary and mandatory evacuations. The storm is expected to make landfall on the exact date Hurricane Katrina devastated a large swath of the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years earlier.

More from CNN: Gulf Coast braces for Sunday arrival of Hurricane Ida, potentially a Category 4 storm.

Ida is anticipated to reach at least Category 4 strength before landfall, the National Hurricane Center said, maintaining its earlier forecast.

“Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Sunday,” National Hurricane Center forecasters said Saturday morning. At 8 a.m. ET, the storm sustained winds of 85 mph.

Officials throughout the state implored people to evacuate, with some issuing mandatory orders to do so.

A dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River on Sunday as Ida makes landfall, the NHC said.

Hurricane conditions are likely in areas along the northern Gulf Coast beginning Sunday, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin by late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. These conditions will spread inland over portions of Louisiana and Mississippi Sunday night and Monday.

Rainfall can amount to 8 to 16 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 20 inches possible across southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi through Monday– which will likely lead to significant flash and river flooding impacts.

A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River and includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

In Louisiana, a hurricane watch is in effect from Cameron to west of Intracoastal City and the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border. Tropical storm warnings and watches are also issued stretching east to the Alabama-Florida border.

The city is anticipating impacts from damaging winds of up to 110 mph, according to Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

I found this article at Yahoo News interesting: EXPLAINER: Is New Orleans protected from a hurricane?

Storm has passed, Robert Tracy

Storm has passed, by Robert Tracy

New Orleans finds itself in the path of Hurricane Ida 16 years to the day after floodwalls collapsed and levees were overtopped by a storm surge driven by Hurricane Katrina. That flooding killed more than 1,000 people and caused billions in damage. But Ida arrives at the doorstep of a region transformed since 2005 by a giant civil works project and closer attention to flood control.

The system already has been tested by multiple storms, including 2012’s Isaac, with little damage to the areas it protects….

The federal government spent $14.5 billion on levees, pumps, seawalls, floodgates and drainage that provides enhanced protection from storm surge and flooding in New Orleans and surrounding suburbs south of Lake Pontchartrain. With the exception of three drainage projects, that work is complete.

“The post-Katrina system is so different than what was in place before,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Matt Roe.

Starting with a giant surge barrier east of the city, the system is a 130-mile (210-kilometer) ring built to hold out storm surge of about 30 feet (9 meters). The National Hurricane Center on Friday projected Ida would bring a surge of 10 feet to 15 feet (3 to 4.6 meters) on the west bank.

At that level, it could come over the levees in some areas, said emergency manager Heath Jones of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans District.

“They’re designed to overtop in places” with protections against worse damage, including armoring, splash pads and pumps with backup generators, he said.

“We’ve built all that since Katrina,” and they’re designed for a worse storm than the Ida is expected to be, he said.

Governments as of Friday were not ordering people protected by the levees to evacuate, showing their confidence in the system.

A number of floodgates are being closed as the storm approaches. That includes massive gates that ships can normally sail through, such as ones that close off the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal near the Lower 9th Ward. That has reduced the risk of flooding in an area long viewed as among the city’s most exposed. At least one smaller floodgate on land has been removed for maintenance, though, with officials planning to close the gap with sandbags.

Read more at the Yahoo link.

Afghanistan News

The Guardian: Afghanistan drone strike targeted Islamic State ‘planner’ in car, US says.

The US drone strike in Afghanistan targeted a mid-level “planner” from the Islamic State’s local affiliate who was travelling in a car with one other person near the eastern city of Jalalabad, US official sources said on Saturday.

The strike came two days after Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport, as western forces running the airlift braced for more attacks.

Erzhena with cat, by Indira BaldanoThe US president, Joe Biden, has promised to hunt down those responsible, striking in a place and time of his choosing.

The drone strike is likely to be in part aimed at reassuring a shaken US public that its government’s counter-terrorist capabilities in Afghanistan remain intact despite the chaotic withdrawal.

There is no indication that the target of the drone was involved in Thursday’s blast, which killed around 180 people, including 13 US marines.

The attack focused attention on ISKP, which had previously been seen as only a minor actor in Afghanistan and one of the weaker IS affiliates around the world.

The group was founded in 2014 by a few dozen disaffected Taliban commanders and defectors from other militants from the region and made early gains in districts close to the border with Pakistan in the eastern Nangarhar province, where the drone strike occurred around midnight on Friday night. The name Khorasan was given by medieval Islamic imperial rulers to a region including modern Afghanistan.

Read more about ISKP at the Guardian link.

The Washington Post: The 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul airport attack: What we know so far.

The U.S. toll from Thursday’s terrorist attack in Afghanistan came into sharper focus Friday, as the identities of 13 U.S. service members who were killed began to surface.

A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a Kabul airport gate where U.S. troops were searching evacuees rushing to depart the country. At least 18 other troops were wounded in the bombing that killed at least 170 people and the 13 U.S. service members. The attack was the single deadliest enemy strike against U.S. forces in Afghanistan since August 2011, when militants shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 U. S. troops on board.

Woman with cat soul, Madalena Lobao-Tello

Woman with cat soul, Madalena Lobao-Tello

The Pentagon has yet to release the names of American service members killed. In a Friday briefing, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did not say when the remains of the service members will arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the first transit place for U.S. service members killed overseas.

But names began to emerge in news reports, as family members confirmed the identities of the dead. Many of the slain service members were in their infancy in 2001, the year the 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered the U.S. war in Afghanistan, bookending their lives as the American effort comes to a close.

This story will be updated as more names are confirmed.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyo.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, of Wentzville, Mo.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Tex.

Navy Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside County, Calif.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, of Utah

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Read personal details about these young men at the WaPo link.

What SCOTUS Has Wrought

The Washington Post: Millions of Americans face financial cliff as eviction ban, unemployment aid lapse amid Washington inaction.

The clock is now ticking for millions of Americans who are set to face a series of stinging financial hardships in a matter of days, with the loss of federal protections against eviction and looming cuts to their weekly unemployment checks.

The two developments arrive at a moment of great tension in Washington, where the White House and Congress have grappled over the state of the country’s pandemic aid — and confronted their limited ability to authorize more of it — even as the economy shows potential signs of strain in the face of a resurgent coronavirus.

Beryl-Cook-Feeding-the-Tortoise-with-Siamese-Cat-Looking-On-1250x996

Feeding the Tortoise with Siamese Cat Looking On, by Beryl Cook

The first blow arrived Friday, as landlords now can more easily begin removing tenants who have fallen behind on their monthly payments. The potential wave of evictions comes after the Supreme Court found the Biden administration’s recent eviction moratorium to be unconstitutional, leaving the White House powerless to issue its own new directive protecting as many as 6.4 million households that are not current on their rents, according to federal survey data. Many Americans also have struggled to obtain federal rental aid from state and local programs that were allocated tens of billions of dollars in past stimulus packages.

Ten days later, some of those same families could face additional financial peril as enhanced unemployment insurance benefits are set to lapse. Congress repeatedly has extended these weekly checks, but President Biden and some of his congressional allies have not sought to renew them ahead of their planned expiration Sept. 6. That could threaten 7.5 million people with the loss of much-needed income, according to a recent estimate from the Century Foundation.

The developments portend a potential shock to the economy, and they highlight the difficult political realities even in Democratic-dominated Washington. Biden has only so much power to act on his own to provide pandemic relief, and lawmakers in his party do not always see eye to eye about the need for additional economic stimulus.

Caught in the middle are millions of Americans who have relied on these generous but temporary federal programs to pay their bills since the coronavirus first swept the nation in March 2020. With fewer federal protections at their disposal, the financial hardships they face may only intensify, especially as new variants threaten to shutter businesses and schools — and overrun hospitals with patients — in communities already ravaged by the pandemic.

Major News from NBC

With all that is happening, this is what NBC is using as clickbait today: ‘Minor’ Major issues: Emails show Biden dog was nippier than White House said.

The Biden family dog was a bit more of a problem pooch than the White House initially acknowledged, according to Secret Service emails obtained by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch.

The White House said at the end of March that Major, the Bidens’ 3-year-old German shepherd, was involved in a pair of “nipping” incidents, but the emails show he was involved in several more.

“At the current rate an Agent or Officer has been bitten every day this week (3/1-3/8) causing damage to attire or bruising/punctures to the skin,” one of the emails said.

When asked on Friday why the administration had provided reporters with a misleading account of the dog’s difficulties, White House press secretary Jen Psaki sidestepped the question.

“As we’ve stated previously, Major has had some challenges adjusting to life in the White House. He has been receiving additional training as well as spending some time in Delaware where the environment is more familiar to him and he is more comfortable. I don’t have any additional specifics but I think that speaks to where Major is located, to be fully transparent in your ongoing interest in the dog,” Psaki said.

The emails were released after a FOIA request from right wing nut organization Judicial Watch. NBC is being mocked on Twitter for hyping this ridiculous story.

What’s happening in your neck of the woods? If you’re in the path of Ida, please stay safe!


Lazy Caturday Reads

Britt-Ehringer_fridakatlobrow_oil+on+linen_48x38+(1)

Britt Ehringer, Frida Katlobrow

Good Afternoon!!

As usual, the news is pretty depressing today–Covid-19 is still raging and the media is still viciously attacking President Biden on Afghanistan while ignoring the roles of Trump, Pompeo, and Stephen Miller in setting up the current state of affairs. I have a mix of reads to share, beginning with the obituary of a brilliant author and anti-racist who worked to change Americans’ understanding of our history.

The New York Times: James W. Loewen, Who Challenged How History Is Taught, Dies at 79.

James W. Loewen, a sociologist and civil rights champion who took high school teachers and textbook publishers to task for distorting American history, particularly the struggle of Black people in the South, by oversimplifying their experience and omitting the ugly parts, died on Thursday in Bethesda, Md. He was 79.

His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by Ellen Adler, his publisher at the New Press, who said he died after an unspecified “long illness.”

“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the 11th grade,” Dr. Loewen wrote in “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” (1995), the best known of his dozen books attacking historical misconceptions.

Dr. Loewen was a relentless contrarian who challenged anyone who imagined academic life as a passage through genteel lectures on settled matters for drowsy students on leafy campuses. He charged through history like a warrior, dismantling fictions and exposing towns for excluding minorities; teachers and historians for dumbing lessons down; and defendants in 50 class-action lawsuits who, according to his expert testimony, victimized people in civil rights, voting rights and job discrimination cases.

A Northerner fascinated with Mississippi, he wrote his first book about the Chinese population there. He wrote another about how America’s historic sites distort our knowledge of the past. And it was a mistake to get him started on the origin of Thanksgiving: Plymouth was already a village with cleared fields when the Pilgrims found it deserted by plague victims. No turkey was served in 1621 — perhaps it was duck. And there was no pie. The settlers had no wheat flour for crust and no oven for baking. The holiday Americans celebrate has nothing to do with the Pilgrims. It was invented 242 years later by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the North’s victory at Gettysburg.

“History is by far our worst-taught subject in high school,” Dr. Loewen told The Atlantic in 2018. “I think we’re stupider in thinking about the past than we are, say, in thinking about Shakespeare, or algebra, or other subjects. Historians tend to make everything so nuanced that the idea of truth almost disappears.”

Loewen’s work is more important than ever with the current rise of disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Rose Freymuth-Frazier

Painting by Rose Freymuth-Frazier

Trumpists are organizing a pro-January 6 rally in Washington D.C. on September 18, and this time the Metropolitan Police are taking the warnings seriously. The purpose of the rally is to free the “political prisoners” who are being prosecuted for attacking the U.S. Capitol building.

WUSA9.com: MPD fully activates department ahead of planned ‘Justice for J6’ protest on Sept. 18.

WASHINGTON — In a flash notice sent to all officers and members of the department Thursday, Metropolitan Police activated the entire force and postponed vacation days, in anticipation of a Sept. 18 protest organized by supporters of Jan. 6 defendants.

The rally, known as “Justice for J6,” is planned for the Union Square area of the Capitol grounds, the section of the west front encompassing the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and Capitol reflecting pool.

The full activation alert, sent as Thursday’s Capitol Hill bomb threat investigation continued, assigned specific notice to MPD civil disturbance units trained for First Amendment demonstrations. The department-wide notification has not been previously reported.

When asked for comment, MPD responded with this statement:

“In anticipation of First Amendment activities on Saturday, September 18, 2021, the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully prepared. As with all First Amendment demonstrations, MPD will be monitoring and assessing the activities and planning accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners. MPD will have an increased presence around the city where demonstrations will be taking place and will be prepared to make street closures for public safety.” 

Read more about the known goals for the event at the link, but here’s a brief summary from The Daily Beast:

The event, organized by former Donald Trump flack Matt Braynard, hopes to seek justice for those who stormed and defiled the Capitol on Jan. 6. Braynard announced the rally on former Trump adviser and current crackpot Steve Bannon’s podcast. “As we continue to raise the profile of these individuals, it makes it harder and harder for the left’s phony narrative about an insurrection to stick,” Braynard said, according to WUSA9. “What’s going to define [the rally] is where it’s going to take place: we’re going back to the Capitol.” He said the event has obtained permits. U.S. Capitol Police said it was aware of the event, but declined to comment.

Martin Wittfooth

Painting by Martin Wittfooth

Covid-19 is raging all over the country, but especially in the South. CNN reports: Governor sees ‘astronomical’ number of new Covid-19 cases.

Overall hospitalizations are continuing to increase across Alabama as the “pandemic of unvaccinated people continues,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said on Friday. Alabama hospitals have a negative capacity of ICU beds available, he said, and the state is seeing the highest number of Covid-19 cases among children than at any other time during the pandemic.

Louisiana has seen an “astronomical” number of Covid-19 cases during the latest surge, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards, as infections are increasing particularly among younger populations.

“I can tell you that for the last couple of days, 28% of all the new cases that we’re reporting are in children zero to 17,” he said on Friday.

In Orlando, Florida, Mayor Buddy Dyer warned residents to conserve water. Orlando Sentinel:  Orlando urges reduced water usage as liquid oxygen used to purify water goes to COVID patients.

The city of Orlando and its water utility made an urgent appeal Friday afternoon for residents to cut back sharply on water usage for weeks because of a pandemic-triggered shortage of liquid oxygen used to purify water.

If commercial and residential customers are unable to reduce water usage quickly and sufficiently, Orlando Utilities Commission may issue a system-wide alert for boiling water needed for drinking and cooking. Without reductions in water usage, a boil-water alert would come within a week, utility officials said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer asked residents to immediately stop watering their lawns, washing their cars and using pressure washers. Landscape irrigation consumes about 40% of the water provided by OUC….

Medical authorities have reported that along with a spike in hospitalizations for COVID cases, hospitals are relying increasingly on treatment involving high flows of supplemental oxygen for patients.

That has spurred a nationwide shortage for liquid oxygen, which has been exacerbated by a lack of available tanker trucks and drivers.

Mark Ryden, Amanda

Amanda, by Mark Ryden

In Mississippi, many people have been using a livestock deworming medication to treat or prevent Covid-19 that has been promoted on Fox News. ABC News: Mississippi officials warn against using livestock ivermectin to prevent COVID-19 after rise in poison control calls.

Mississippi’s poison control center has seen an increase in calls of people taking ivermectin, including versions of the deworming drug intended for livestock, to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to state health officials.

The Mississippi Health Department took to social media Friday to issue a warning about the phenomenon, which has been reported throughout the pandemic.

“Do not use ivermectin products made for animals,” it said in a Facebook post.

The Mississippi Health Department also issued an alert Friday to health care providers in the state regarding the increase in poison control calls due to potential ivermectin toxicity.

“At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers,” stated the alert, which did not specify the number of total calls.

Meanwhile, there’s a free vaccine readily available that has emergency approval from the FDA.

Also in Mississippi: Mississippi threatens fines, jail time for Covid patients who don’t isolate.

Mississippi’s top health official Friday threatened jail time for people diagnosed with Covid-19 who don’t isolate in their homes.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an “isolation order” that states, “All persons residing in Mississippi must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19.”

Failure to do so could result in fines and jail time. Dobbs’ order mentions two possible levels of violation. One, a refusal to obey a health officer, comes with a $500 fine and, possibly, six months behind bars.

But the order says that where a life-threatening disease is involved in a refusal to obey, violators could face a fine of up to $5,000 and possibly five years behind bars.

State epidemiologist Paul Byers said Mississippi has the highest number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. “These numbers are staggering guys,” he said during a weekly Mississippi pandemic update.

Marc Dennis, Night Out

Marc Dennis, Night Out

Big media is still focused tearing down Joe Biden, so much so that they hardly paid any attention to bomb threat standoff in DC. 

John Stoer at Raw Story: How the media enables a political minority to steal the majority’s freedoms.

Peter Baker is a reporter for the Times. He said this yesterday: “The Biden team’s cold political calculation is that Americans won’t care what happens in Afghanistan as long as Americans are safe. To their point, today there are no front-page stories on Afghanistan in cities like Boston, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Fresno or Miami.”

This is in keeping what I’ve been saying in the Editorial Board. Most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics. This goes double for August, that time of the year when normal people are thinking about vacations or preparing for the reopening of school. The Washington press corps barely paid any attention at all to Afghanistan, because most people most of the time stopped paying attention to it a decade ago, after the US killed the man responsible for murdering nearly 3,000 Americans a decade prior.

But Baker’s use of “cold political calculation” carries with it at least one presumption. It’s that Joe Biden is doing something obviously morally wrong; that “informed people” (i.e., elites) know he’s doing something obviously morally wrong; and that the obvious moral wrong is rooted in the fact that US forces are leaving Afghanistan. Moreover, it’s that Biden is betting he won’t pay a price for that obvious moral wrong given that voters have short attention spans and short memories, especially in August. It’s a presumption that itself presumes everything is as good or bad as everything else and nothing really matters.

“Cold political calculation” does not accurately represent reality, however. The Associated Press released this week the results of a new poll showing that two-thirds of the population does not think “America’s longest war was worth fighting.” That’s 67 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans. The poll, moreover, shows a gigantic switcher-roo over the duration of the “forever war.” In 2001, most people were worried about foreign terrorists. Now, according to the AP’s poll, most people see “major national security threats as being internal. Roughly two-thirds say they are extremely or very concerned about the threat of extremist groups based inside the United States.”

SmallGameHunter Rose Freymuth Frazier

Small Game Hunter, by Rose Freymuth

My point here isn’t to pick on Peter Baker. My point is to note how the press corps often overlooks, or ignores, majority opinion, especially as it relates to the dynamics of power in Washington. When put in its proper context, you can see the president and his team were not making a “cold political calculation.” To the contrary, they were acting in accord with the will of the majority. Everything is not as good or bad as everything else. Some things are good. Some things are bad. Some things are so clearly and morally one or the other, there’s a bipartisan consensus. A president is wise to take such preferences into account. I wouldn’t call this “cold political calculation.” I’d call it good politics.

Read more at Raw Story.

Here’s a link to Peter Baker’s article at The New York Times: Biden Ran on Competence and Empathy. Afghanistan Is Testing That.

More Afghanistan reads:

Franz J. Marty at The Guardian: I was in Kabul when it fell to the Taliban. The speed of the collapse stunned me.

HuffPost: Biden, Allies Frustrated With Media’s Hawkish Coverage Of Afghanistan Withdrawal.

William Saletan at Slate: Pompeo Is Lying About Afghanistan.  He laid the groundwork for the Taliban takeover. Now he’s blaming Biden.

Yahoo News: A former Pence adviser said Trump had 4 years to help Afghan allies leave the country but Stephen Miller’s ‘racist hysteria’ blocked it from happening.

As always, this is an open thread. I hope you all have a great weekend! 


Lazy Caturday Reads

Arsen Kurbanov

Painting by Arsen Kurbanov

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was a busy news day and a very bad day for Donald Trump. The Justice Department has ordered the IRS to hand over his taxes to the House Ways and Means Committee and new evidence was revealed about his efforts to get Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to help overturn the 2020 election.

The New York Times: Treasury must turn over Trump’s taxes to Congress, the Justice Dept. says.

The Treasury Department must turn over six years of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax returns to House investigators, the Justice Department said in a legal opinion issued on Friday that most likely paves the way for their eventual release to Congress and potentially to the public.

Hours later, the Treasury told a federal judge that it planned to move ahead.

The 39-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel dealt a sharp legal blow to a yearslong campaign by Mr. Trump to keep his tax information secret, reversing a Trump administration position that had shielded the documents from Congress.

Portrait of Gerrit Komrij - Theo Daamen, 1986 Dutch, b.1939

Portrait of Gerrit Komrij, by Theo Daamen, 1986 Dutch, b.1939

Rejecting that view, the Biden administration opinion said that a request for the tax information first lodged in 2019 by the House Ways and Means Committee was legitimate and that the Treasury Department had no valid grounds to refuse it.

“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the opinion said. “Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill, who said they aim to examine the I.R.S.’s presidential audit program and Mr. Trump’s conflicts of interest, hailed the decision as a victory for congressional oversight powers and for national security. The House had sued to enforce the request after the Trump Treasury Department objected, and litigation continues.

“The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a valedictory statement.

Katie Benner at The New York Times: Trump Pressed Justice Dept. to Declare Election Results Corrupt, Notes Show.

President Donald J. Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers.

The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.

White-Cat-with-Crescent-Moon-Gertrude-Abercrombie, 1909-1977

White Cat with Crescent Moon, Gertrude-Abercrombie, 1909-1977

The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the Justice Department had found no evidence for. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.

Mr. Trump did not name the lawmakers, but at other points during the call, he mentioned Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, whom he described as a “fighter”; Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, who at the time promoted the idea that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump; and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, whom Mr. Trump praised for “getting to bottom of things.”

A bit more:

The phone call by Mr. Trump was perhaps the most audacious moment in a monthslong pressure campaign aimed at enlisting the Justice Department in his crusade to overturn the election results.

After the departure of Mr. Rosen’s predecessor, William P. Barr, became public on Dec. 14, Mr. Trump and his allies harangued Mr. Rosen and his top deputies nearly every day until Jan. 6, when Congress met to certify the Electoral College and was disrupted by Mr. Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol, according to emails and other documents obtained by Congress and interviews with former Trump administration officials.

The conversations often included complaints about unfounded voter fraud conspiracy theories, frustration that the Justice Department would not ask the Supreme Court to invalidate the election and admonishments that department leaders had failed to fight hard enough for Mr. Trump, the officials said.

The Justice Department provided Mr. Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating the Trump administration’s efforts to unlawfully reverse the election results.

leonard tsuguharu foujita, Japanese-French, 1886-1968

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Japanese-French, 1886-1968

So it looks like we’ll be following more Congressional investigations of the the former guy in the near future. You can read specifics of Trump’s demands at that link.

David A. Graham at The Atlantic: The Insurrection Was Just Part of the Plot.

…[T]he House Oversight Committee shed more light this week on just how and why January 6 happened, releasing handwritten notes by Richard Donoghue, a top Justice Department official in the waning days of the Trump administration. The violence of the day has taken center stage, but these notes help put it in context: The angry crowd was just one part of President Donald Trump’s long-running effort to overturn the results of the election in the House of Representatives.

Trump’s effort to call the election results into doubt began long before the votes were cast, but it accelerated immediately after the election. As I wrote on January 26, Trump’s coup attempt started not on January 6 but in the wee hours of November 4, when Trump said at the White House, “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election.” He added: “Frankly, we did win this election.” (He did not, and was not being frank.)

In November and early December, the focus of Trump’s efforts was pressuring state officials in places such as Arizona and Georgia to decline to certify results in favor of Biden, and pressing Attorney General William Barr to cast doubt on the results. But Barr declined, breaking with Trump, and so did pivotal Republicans including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Once Barr was pushed aside, The Washington Post reported this week, Trump began a daily campaign to pressure Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen into doing what Barr would not, trying to place new claims of fraud before the Justice Department. Unbeknownst to Rosen, Trump was also orchestrating a plan to topple him.

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

Pierre Bonnard, 1867-1947

What Trump hoped to achieve from these efforts has always been a little hazy. The Justice Department doesn’t certify elections, and at most could have pursued fraud claims in court—had there been any credible ones, which there were not. The new releases by the House Oversight Committee, first reported by The New York Times,connect the dots. Donoghue explained to Trump that the DOJ couldn’t overturn the result, but the president was unruffled.

“Don’t expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen” is how Donoghue recorded Trump’s response in handwritten notes.

All Trump wanted was some semi-independent arbiter to declare the election fraudulent—whether that was the governor of Arizona, the Georgia secretary of state, or the U.S. Justice Department. This much was clear even then, but Trump’s endgame was not. After all, Democrat Joe Biden’s lead was wide enough that a single state declining to certify or a single fraud case couldn’t have erased it. Trump, despite his weakness for conspiracy theories, understood that. But he didn’t need any of these officials to set aside the results on their own. He just needed enough ammunition, no matter how tenuous, that he could derail certification of the election in Congress.

If the election couldn’t be decided based on the results, then it would go to the House of Representatives. Though Democrats held a majority there, the presidency would have been decided by state delegations, of which Republicans controlled more.

Read the rest at The Atlantic.

More stories on Trump’s attempts to subvert the DOJ and his coup attempt:

Margaret Carlson at The Daily Beast: Damn Right Jan. 6 Was a Coup—This Was Trump’s Call That Led There.

Andy Wright at Just Security: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.

Raw Story: Trump inadvertently made key admission in calls to DOJ: impeachment counsel Daniel Goldman.

Carel Willink, Crayon drawing of a cat with attitude, 1976

Carel Willink, Crayon drawing of a cat with attitude, 1976

Is Trump still trying to get himself “reinstated” as president? I wouldn’t be surprised. A couple of stories that suggest there’s still something going on.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: WATCH: Mark Meadows Says Trump Meeting with ‘Cabinet Members’ at Jersey Golf Club About ‘Moving Forward in a Real Way.’

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that former President Donald Trump has been meeting with “cabinet members” at his New Jersey golf resort, mysteriously adding that they’re planning to “move forward in a real way.”

On Friday night’s edition of Newsmax’s Cortes & Pellegrino, Meadows defended Trump’s failed endorsement in a Texas special election runoff, saying “the magic is still there.”

He added that Trump is “a president that is fully engaged, highly focused, and remaining on task.” [….]

As he did throughout the interview, Meadows referred to Trump in the present-tense “the president,” and described meeting with “members of our cabinet”:

“Well, we met with several of our cabinet members tonight, we actually had a follow-up member, meeting with some of our cabinet members, and as we were looking at that, we were looking at what does come next. I’m not authorized to speak on behalf of the president, but I can tell you this steve. We wouldn’t be meeting tonight if we weren’t making plans to move forward in a real way, with president Trump at the head of that ticket.”

Although Meadows’ linguistic cues suggested some sort of alt-presidency, the rest of his remarks appeared to refer only to future elections. Meadows did not mention any discussion of a potential Trump “reinstatement” to the presidency, a notion that has been popular with Trump supporters, and reportedly with Trump himself.

Then why did he refer to Trump as “the president?”

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948

Hernán Valdovinos, 1948

Raw Story: Mike Lindell is now hoping Supreme Court allows a do-over election: ‘Maybe that’s a thing.’

On the far-right Brandon Howse Live radio program on Friday, MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell suggested that perhaps the Supreme Court will allow a do-over of the election without electronic voting machines.

“So maybe the Supreme Court will say, hey, let’s have another — let’s do another election without machines,” said Lindell. “You know. Maybe that’s a thing.”

Lindell, who this week withdrew all his advertising from Fox News due to his belief they are insufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump, has been a key purveyor of the nonsense idea that Trump could be “reinstated” as president later this year — although he has recently backed off that idea.

He has also spread false claims about Dominion Voting Systems equipment rigging votes, which has resulted in a lawsuit against him.

Yes, he’s nuts, but does he still have Trump’s ear? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Have a great weekend Sky Dancers! As always, this is an open thread.