Thursday Reads: Right Wing Blowhards EditionPosted: April 22, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alan Dershowitz, Derek Chauvin, Foghorn Leghorn, George Floyd, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sen. John Cornyn, Sen. John N. Kennedy, Stacey Abrams, Tucker Carlson 11 Comments
In case you missed it, Louisiana Sen. John N. Kennedy made a fool of himself again yesterday when he made the mistake of trying to put one over on Stacey Abrams. He asked her to explain what is so racist about the Georgia voter suppression law.
HuffPost: Stacey Abrams Goes Viral With 2-Minute Takedown of Georgia Voting Law.
Stacey Abrams continued her crusade against Georgia’s new voting law this week by supplying lawmakers with a laundry list of reasons why she finds the changes both restrictive and racist.
The Democratic voting rights activist has been an outspoken critic of the law, arguing it will have a disproportionate effect on voters of color. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, she came prepared to make her case.
When Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Abrams to clarify which provisions of Georgia’s new voting law she opposed, she didn’t hold back.
Another lesser blowhard, John Cornyn of Texas, also tried it.
At another point during the four-hour meeting, Abrams got into a tense exchange with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who suggested states controlled by Democrats with similar voting laws hadn’t been subjected to the same criticism as Georgia.
Cornyn pointed to New York and Connecticut, which require that voters provide an accepted excuse ― such as being away from home or having a disability ― to be able to vote by mail, whereas Georgia has no such provision. Noting that laws in many states “need to be improved,” Abrams stated that she believed it was how laws target certain communities that make them racist.“The intent always matters, sir, and that is the point of this conversation,” she said. “That is the point of the Jim Crow narrative. That Jim Crow did not simply look at the activities, it looked at the intent. It looked at the behaviors and it targeted behaviors that were disproportionately used by people of color.”
But getting back to fake good ol’ boy John N. Kennedy, I came across this great 2019 piece at NOLA.com: Who said it: Sen. John Kennedy or Foghorn Leghorn? It’s includes a quiz where you have to guess which blowhard uttered a colorful descriptive phrase.
John Neely Kennedy is the junior U.S. senator from Louisiana who was a key member of Gov. Buddy Roemer’s staff before being elected to five terms as the state treasurer.
Foghorn J. Leghorn is an animated chicken who appeared as a featured character in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Kennedy graduated magna cum laude in political science, philosophy, and economics from Vanderbilt, where he was president of his senior class and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and his Bachelor of Civil Law degree from Oxford University in England where he was a First Class Honors graduate.
Leghorn starred in 29 cartoons from 1946 to 1964 in what is considered the Golden Age of American Animation, usually tormenting a dog named Dawg while fending off attacks from a feisty young chicken hawk named Henery Hawk.
There is practically no way to get the two confused … unless you are just reading what they have said. Then, it gets a little tricky.
Some sample questions:
“He’s about as sharp as a bowling ball.”
“That’s as subtle as a hand grenade in a bowl of oatmeal.”
“She has a billygoat brain and a mocking bird mouth.”
I urge you to take the quiz and see how you do.
While we’re talking about blowhards making fools of themselves, have you seen any of the tweets about Tucker Carlson’s show lately? The guy seems to have gone off the deep end.
The New York Daily News: Tucker Carlson cackles at, then cuts off an NYC law enforcement expert who breaks with the host’s Derek Chauvin narrative.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson cackled at, then dismissed the opinions of a New York City law enforcement veteran who strayed from the far right-wing pundit’s narrative on Tuesday’s murder conviction of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Carlson’s interview with Former New York City Deputy Sheriff Ed Gavin began with the host leading Gavin with the question “Who’s going to become a cop going forward, do you think?”\Gavin didn’t appear to see police officers as the victims in the killing of George Floyd, where video showed Chauvin kneeling on the victim’s neck for nearly 9½ minutes.
“Well, I think people will still become police officers,” Gavin said. “This really is a learning experience for everyone. Let’s face it, what we saw in that video was pure savagery.”
Carlson crunched his eyebrows as Gavin said that based on his experiences, the “emotionally disturbed” Floyd had been successfully contained — and more — during the “excessive” May 2020 traffic stop that cost him his life. Gavin also said he’d like to see more training for police.
“I’ve used force on literally over 500 people in my 21-year career in the New York City Department of Corrections, and in the New York City Sheriff’s Department,” Gavin said. “I’ve never had anybody go unconscious. That was truly an excessive, unjustified use of force.”
After a bit more of this, Carlson flipped out and claimed that American cities are locked down and boarded up because of nonviolent Black Lives Matter protests.
“Well, yeah, but the guy that did it looks like he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison so I’m kind of more worried about the rest of the country, which thanks to police inaction, in case you haven’t noticed, is, like, boarded up,” Carlson complained before letting loose a shrill, maniacal laugh.
“So that’s more my concern. But I appreciate it, Gavin, thank you,” Carlson quickly added.
The flummoxed officer tried to further illustrate his point, but Carlson ended the segment.
“Nope, done!” the host exclaimed before moving on to his next guest — an author who’d penned a book called “The War on Cops.”
Greg Sargent wrote about Carlson’s weird fantasy about America being shut down by the protests: Opinion: The disturbing link between Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Greene and Carlson agree that Armageddon is gripping U.S. cities and that protests against police brutality are causing it.
Yet Greene’s depiction, too, is false. As Philip Bump demonstrates, Tuesday in D.C. was generally normal despite people feeling tense over the coming verdict, and any police presence in D.C. is a holdover from the threat of right-wing violence after Jan. 6.
Read the rest at The Washington Post.
Alan Dershowitz is also upset about the treatment Derek Chauvin is getting. The Daily Beast: Dershowitz Wants Derek Chauvin Free on Bail: ‘He’s Not Going to Endanger Anybody.’
Appearing on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Wednesday night, Dershowitz—who is currently advising pro-Trump pillow magnate Mike Lindell as he faces a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems—first took issue with the White House saying that the “bar for convicting officers is far too high” and reform is still needed.
“We need to apply the same standard to police and ordinary citizens except we have to understand that ordinary citizens have no obligation to risk their lives to prevent an ongoing crime,” he said, adding: “So the rules have to defer and understand and recognize the risks that police take. When it comes to the elements of actual crimes, you can’t bury them. You can’t raise the bar for certain groups of people over other groups of people.”
Host Laura Ingraham then turned to Chauvin, expressing concern that it’s been reported that he’s currently in solitary confinement while also wondering aloud why he’s even in prison.
“Do you think that given what the judge said about an appeal that he probably shouldn’t have even been remanded back into custody?” Ingraham asked, referencing Judge Peter Cahill’s criticism of Rep. Maxine Waters’ protest remarks as potential grounds for appeal.
Acknowledging that “different states have different rules” when it comes to bail for convicted murderers, Dershowitz said that the judge provided “good appellate issues” to the defense.
“He should be released on bail,” Dershowitz declared. “There is no reason why he should be remanded. He’s not going to flee. He wants to have an appeal. He’s not going to endanger anybody. His face is well known.”
How many people who have been convicted of murder get out on bail pending appeals? Is that a regular practice?
People who actually had to deal with Chauvin in the past feel differently, according to this piece from Reuters, via Yahoo News: ‘No sympathy’ for Chauvin, say those who had run-ins before Floyd.
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – For some of those who encountered Derek Chauvin’s policing or witnessed his use of force as an officer there is no sympathy for the man convicted of killing George Floyd.
Chauvin was the subject of at least 17 complaints during his career, according to police records, but only one led to discipline. Prosecutors sought permission to introduce eight prior use-of-force incidents, but the judge would only allow two. In the end the jury heard none.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, has defended his client’s use of force as appropriate in potentially dangerous situations.
“I don’t have no sympathy for him. I think he got what he deserved,” Julian Hernandez, 38, a carpenter now working in Pennsylvania, told Reuters.
Hernandez said he never heard anything from the Minneapolis police after submitting a complaint about Chauvin, who he said “choked him out” during an encounter in a Minneapolis night club in 2015. A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department declined to comment.
According to Chauvin’s police report, Hernandez failed to follow orders and resisted arrest when Chauvin, who was working as an off-duty security guard, tried to escort him out of a night club. Chauvin’s report said this prompted him to apply “pressure toward his Lingual Artery” to subdue Hernandez.
Hernandez said Chauvin picked him out of the crowd for no reason and quickly escalated to violence. He said Chauvin should have been removed from the police force.
Read more examples at the link.
Sorry this is such an unserious post. That’s just the mood I’m in today, I guess. As always, this is an open thread.
Tuesday Reads: LanguishingPosted: April 20, 2021 Filed under: Criminal Justice System, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Adam Grant, Brian Sicknick, Derek Chauvin, January 6 Capitol insurrection, Jimmy Carter, languishing, vice presidency, Walter Mondale 26 Comments
I’ve been really dragging lately–partly because of health problems, but very likely also because of the exhausting events of the past year. Am I “languishing”? Are you?
Dakinikat pointed me to this New York Times article by organizational psychologist Adam Grant: There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing.
At first, I didn’t recognize the symptoms that we all had in common. Friends mentioned that they were having trouble concentrating. Colleagues reported that even with vaccines on the horizon, they weren’t excited about 2021. A family member was staying up late to watch “National Treasure” again even though she knows the movie by heart. And instead of bouncing out of bed at 6 a.m., I was lying there until 7, playing Words with Friends.
It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.
Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.
That sounds familiar. Of course I was already completely exhausted by the horror of 2016 and three years of Trump insanity when the pandemic hit. I’ve also been dealing with an autoimmune disorder called polymyalgia rheumatica. Despite seeing a Rheumatologist and taking multiple medications over the past year, I’m still struggling with chronic joint pain and stiffness. That has added to my sense of emotional exhaustion. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s been happening.
More from Adam Grant on “languishing:”
In the early, uncertain days of the pandemic, it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection system — called the amygdala — was on high alert for fight-or-flight. As you learned that masks helped protect us — but package-scrubbing didn’t — you probably developed routines that eased your sense of dread. But the pandemic has dragged on, and the acute state of anguish has given way to a chronic condition of languish.
In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless.
Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.
The term was coined by a sociologist named Corey Keyes, who was struck that many people who weren’t depressed also weren’t thriving. His research suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today. They’re the people who are languishing right now. And new evidence from pandemic health care workers in Italy shows that those who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.
Read the whole thing at the NYT and see what you think.
Now for today’s news . . .
Walter Mondale died yesterday. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Walter Mondale, who rose from small-town Minnesota to vice presidency, dies at 93.
Walter F. Mondale, a preacher’s son from southern Minnesota who climbed to the pinnacle of U.S. politics as an influential senator, vice president and Democratic nominee for president, died on Monday. He was 93.
Known as “Fritz” to family, friends and voters alike, Mondale died in Minneapolis, according to a statement from his family.
“As proud as we were of him leading the presidential ticket for Democrats in 1984, we know that our father’s public policy legacy is so much more than that,” read the Mondale family statement.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who chose Mondale as his running mate in 1976, called his friend “the best vice president in our country’s history.”
“He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States and the world,” Carter said in a statement. “Fritz Mondale provided us all with a model for public service and private behavior.”
After serving four years under Carter, Mondale was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984. He lost to the incumbent, President Ronald Reagan, in a historic landslide.
“A night like that is hard on you,” Mondale wrote in his 2010 memoir, “The Good Fight.”
Even in defeat, Mondale made history by choosing as his running mate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president on a major-party ticket. It followed a series of political landmarks in a public career that spanned seven decades.
A protégé of Hubert H. Humphrey, another Minnesota politician who rose to the vice presidency and lost a presidential election, Mondale served as a U.S. senator from Minnesota for a dozen years. He played a lead role in the passage of social programs, civil rights laws and environmental protections that defined President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society.”
As vice president from 1977 to 1981, Mondale transformed the office from what had historically been a punchline into what both he and Carter called a true governing partnership. Mondale’s role as chief adviser and troubleshooter, working from a West Wing office near the Oval Office, became a model for successors including George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden.
“The first person I called was Fritz,” Biden once said about the time President Barack Obama offered him the No. 2 position.
At The Washington Post, Karen Tumulty wrote about how Mondale changed the vice presidency: Opinion: Walter Mondale reinvented the vice presidency. Both Biden and Harris should thank him for it.
Read more at the WaPo.
The Derek Chauvin trial wrapped up yesterday, and now the nation awaits the jury verdict. Here’s an interesting op-ed by former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rogers at CNN: Chauvin trial is ‘believe your eyes’ vs. ‘hey, look over there!’
Prosecutors treat closing arguments as an opportunity to make things simple for the jury and to keep them focused on the critical issues. Thus we heard state prosecutor Steve Schleicher’s mantra to the jury to “believe your eyes,” and his repeated references to the video evidence as well as his use of visual aids through which Schleicher listed and then checked off each legal element of each offense as he reminded the jury of the evidence proving them. This was a very effective technique, giving jurors who walked into the jury room inclined to vote to convict some ammunition to use in convincing more reluctant fellow jurors.
Defense lawyers have a different checklist, and Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson hit all of his marks. Defense lawyers use closings to distract the jurors, to pull them away from the focus encouraged by prosecutors, and to provide as many reasons as they can muster as to why the prosecutors’ theory of the case fails.
Nelson embraced this tactic, spending almost an hour showing body camera footage of and arguing about the period before Chauvin restrained Floyd, a time when other officers were trying to cram a resisting Floyd into the squad car, while virtually ignoring most of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. Nelson then tossed out all of the alternate causation theories he had cultivated throughout the trial — Floyd’s preexisting heart condition, his consumption of fentanyl and methamphetamine, the paraganglioma tumor, and possible carbon monoxide poisoning — claiming that with all of these possibilities out there, prosecutors couldn’t possibly prove causation beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jurors would be forgiven if their heads were spinning a bit from this rapid fire of legal theories — and that is exactly what the defense was aiming for.
Read the rest at CNN.
One more big story from yesterday at The Washington Post: Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who engaged rioters, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes, officials say.