Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Two Sisters, William Bowyer

Two Sisters, by William Bowyer, British painter

Today is my 75th birthday. It seems like a big deal, but at the same time it’s really no big deal. I’m OK with being an old woman; I’m happy to be alive, sober, and generally healthy. I can’t remember proper names very well, but that’s been going on for years. I sometimes have trouble finding the names of things, but I find that if I give myself a minute or two those words will come to me. I still have a very good memory for facts and events.

My Mom is 97 now and has dementia. It’s almost as if she has already left us. She seems to know who I am, but I’m not absolutely sure. I miss the way we used to talk about everything. When I called her on Thanksgiving, she didn’t even seem to understand what that day means. It’s very sad, but I’m grateful for all the years we had–she was really my best friend in many ways.

I miss my Dad too. He has been gone now for 11 years. I miss talking to him about books and language. I miss his sense of humor, even his dad jokes. That’s what it’s like to be old, I guess–losing people. But they are still with you in your memories.

I hope I don’t sound too maudlin. It doesn’t feel that way to me, because I accept being old and I even enjoy it in a way. I have time now to think and to read as much as I want to. I’ve always had an irrational fear of running out of things to read; and so I’ve bought way too many books over the years. Now I’m afraid I won’t have time for all the books I want to read.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s get to some news and comment.

The George Senate runoff election is coming up next Tuesday, Dec. 6. It’s difficult to believe, the the race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker is very close, despite all the scandals surrounding Walker, the fact that he can’t form a coherent sentence, and his admission that he lives in Texas. Here’s the latest:

Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast: Herschel Walker Ex Comes Forward: He Attacked Me in a Rage.

A former longtime girlfriend of Republican senatorial candidate Herschel Walker has come forward to detail a violent episode with the football star, who she believes is “unstable” and has “little to no control” over his mental state when he is not in treatment.

The woman, Dallas resident Cheryl Parsa, described an intimate and tumultuous five-year relationship with Walker in the 2000s, beginning shortly after his divorce and continuing for a year after the publication of his 2008 memoir about his struggle with dissociative identity disorder (DID), once known as multiple personality disorder.

Parsa, who has composed a book-length manuscript about her relationship with Walker, says she is speaking out because she is disturbed by Walker’s behavior on the campaign trail, which she claims exhibits telltale flare-ups of the disorder she tried to help him manage for half a decade.

amer-ice-cream-richard-wallich

Amer Ice Cream, by Richard Wallich

“He’s a pathological liar. Absolutely. But it’s more than that,” Parsa, who last had regular contact with Walker in 2019, told The Daily Beast. “He knows how to manipulate his disease, in order to manipulate people, while at times being simultaneously completely out of control.” She said that when she was with Walker, he used his diagnosis as an “alibi” to “justify lying, cheating, and ultimately destroying families.”

Parsa provided a detailed account of a 2005 incident that turned violent after she caught Walker with another woman at his Dallas condo. She said Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her chest and neck, and swung his fist at her. “I thought he was going to beat me,” she recalled, and fled in fear.

Parsa is one of five women who were romantically involved with Walker who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article. All of them described a habit of lying and infidelity—including one woman who claimed she had an affair with Walker while he was married in the 1990s. All five women said they were willing to speak to expose the behavior of the man they now see running for Senate.

Maya King at The New York Times: In Georgia, Walker’s Pace in the Finish Worries Republican Allies.

Herschel Walker was being swamped by negative television ads. His Democratic opponents were preparing to flood the polls for early voting as soon as doors opened. After being hit by fresh allegations of carpetbagging, he was left with just over a week to make his final appeals to voters in the runoff for Georgia’s Senate seat.

But for five days, Mr. Walker was off the campaign trail.

The decision to skip campaigning over the crucial Thanksgiving holiday weekend has Mr. Walker’s Republican allies airing frustrations and concerns about his campaign strategy in the final stretch of the overtime election against Senator Raphael Warnock.

“We almost need a little bit more time for Herschel’s campaign to get everything off the ground,” said Jason Shepherd, the former chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, pointing to the transition from a general election campaign to a runoff sprint. Notably, the runoff campaign was cut from nine weeks to four by a Republican-backed law passed last year….

Mr. Shepherd said Mr. Walker’s decision not to campaign during Thanksgiving was just one troubling choice. He also pointed to a series of mailers sent by the Georgia Republican Party encouraging voters to find their polling places that contained broken QR codes as examples of poor organizing. And he raised concern about the steady stream of advertisements supporting Warnock, a first-term senator and pastor, on conservative talk radio and contemporary Christian stations.

Gregory Frank Harris, 1953

By Gregory Frank Harris, 1953

That all sounds like good news for Democrats. It’s hilarious that in making it harder to vote, Republicans have ended up hurting themselves–just as they did in the runoff elections in 2020. But King notes that the race is still close despite all the scandals.

His campaign has been one of the most turbulent in recent memory: Mr. Walker was found to have lied or exaggerated details about his educationhis business, his charitable giving and his work in law enforcement. He acknowledged a history of violent and erratic behavior, tied to a mental illness, and did not dispute an ex-wife’s accusation of assault. Two women claimed that he had urged them to have abortions, although he ran as a staunchly anti-abortion candidate. He denied their accounts. He regularly delivered rambling speeches, which Democrats widely circulated with glee.

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Herschel Walker might be the most flawed Republican nominee in the nation this year,” said Rick Dent, a media consultant who has worked for candidates from both parties and plans to vote for Mr. Warnock.

Sahil Kapur at NBC News: Georgia Senate runoff tests the staying power of abortion in American elections.

The high-stakes Senate runoff in Georgia next week will be the first major test of abortion politics since the 2022 general election, when a backlash to the Supreme Court’s decision galvanized proponents of abortion rights and boosted Democrats.

Abortion was a major issue on Election Day in Georgia, when Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock finished about 1 point ahead of Republican rival Herschel Walker, though narrowly missing the 50% he needed to win outright. The 26% of Georgians who ranked abortion as their top issue backed Warnock by a margin of 77% to 21%, NBC News exit polls showed.

Now, Democrats see an opening to weaponize it to finish the job against Walker in the Dec. 6 runoff, when a victory would give their party a 51st Senate seat.

“On December 6th, our rights are on the ballot. Herschel Walker wants a total ban on abortion nationwide,” says a TV ad by the Democratic group Georgia Honor, playing footage of Walker calling for a “no-exception” ban. “Raphael Warnock is fighting to protect our right to make our own health care decisions,” a narrator says.

Meanwhile, Walker sits at the center of a clash within the Republican Party about how to handle the issue in the new era. While some like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have sought to minimize abortion and pivot to other issues, leading anti-abortion advocates insist that’s a losing strategy and want Republicans to lean in and paint Democrats as the real extremists.

Walker is taking the approach preferred by the anti-abortion advocates, embracing their rhetoric equating abortion to infanticide and attacking Warnock for supporting legislation that would protect the right to terminate a pregnancy without legal restrictions.

The problem with that is that Walker has urged at least 2 women to get abortions and paid for them.

remembering-the-good-times-sam-sidders

Remembering the Good Times, by Sam Sidders

The New York Times also has a piece by Rick Rojas on another important issue in Georgia–the high cost of insulin: A Resonant Topic in Georgia’s Senate Runoff: Insulin Prices.

…[O]ne campaign issue relevant to many voters has little to do with the highly partisan horse race. Rather, it involves one of the most common chronic diseases in America, diabetes, and the soaring cost of the medicine used to treat it, insulin. In both the general and runoff campaigns, Senator Raphael Warnock, the Democratic incumbent, has made much of his efforts in Congress to cap the price of insulin at $35 a month, talking them up in ads, debates and speeches.

“It has resonated with just about everyone,” said Dr. Kris Ellis, a physician who also owns the Bearfoot Tavern in Macon, where Mr. Warnock made a recent campaign stop. “If you don’t have diabetes, you know someone with diabetes.”

He was describing an unsettling reality in Georgia, as in much of the South, where diabetes rates are staggeringly high and the escalating cost of insulin over the years has led to painful choices and, for some, catastrophic consequences.

As campaign issues go, the price of insulin is nowhere near as contentious as just about everything else raised in the four-week runoff between Mr. Warnock and Herschel Walker, the former football star who is his Republican challenger. Even so, interviews with Dr. Ellis and a number of other voters suggested it had broken through the noise of the high-decibel contest, which Georgia requires because neither candidate won a majority of the vote in the general election.

Of course, the candidate who has tried to deal with this issue is Sen. Warnock.

Mr. Warnock has focused on lowering insulin prices since arriving in the Senate nearly two years ago, motivated in part by hundreds of letters that have poured into his office, pleading with him to do something. He has also described seeing the ravaging impacts of diabetes, including losing limbs and eyesight, on congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he is the senior pastor.

“This isn’t an ideological matter, it’s a practical one — and it has broad support across the political spectrum,” Mr. Warnock wrote last spring in an opinion essay published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I sure hope he wins. If he does, the Democrats will have a true majority in the Senate. I can’t wait for the results to come in on Tuesday night.

In other news, yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee finally received six years of Trump’s tax returns.

Katlyn Polantz at CNN: House committee receives Donald Trump’s federal tax returns from IRS.

The House Ways and Means Committee now has six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, ending a yearslong pursuit by Democrats to dig into one of the former president’s most closely guarded personal details.

“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a Treasury spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday.

The spokesperson did not provide any additional information. Federal courts had decided the House could request six years of Trump’s returns, after the committee had requested them in 2019 and again in 2021, according to public court records.

The handover had been on hold, until the Supreme Court declined last week to intervene. Several judges, including Republican appointees, have found the House had power to request the returns from the IRS….

The committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, had sought six years of Trump’s tax records, primarily from the time he served as president. That included records about both Trump personally and several of his corporate entities.

The panel is planning to meet Thursday to get briefed on the legal ramifications of the section of the tax law that Neal used to request Trump’s tax returns, according to a Neal aide.

Democrats are not expected to review the tax returns at this session, and the documents are not expected to be immediately released to the public.

only-the-body-withers-lucie-bilodeau

Only the Body Withers, by Lucie Bilodeau

Then what is going to happen when Republicans take over control of the the committee? We don’t know yet. I think the Democrats should get busy look at the returns before that happens, but what do I know?

Yesterday, Attorney General Merrick Garland held a press conference at which he discussed the guilty verdicts in the Oath Keepers trial as well as the DOJ’s oversight of the water crisis in Jackson, MS. The Washington Post: Garland praises Oath Keepers verdict, won’t say where Jan. 6 probe goes.

A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his Justice Department would continue to “work tirelessly” to hold accountable those responsible for efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors highlighted the defendants’ links to key allies of President Donald Trump, such as Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.

But Garland declined to say Wednesday if he expected prosecutors to eventually file charges against them or any other people who did not physically participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I don’t want to speculate on other investigations or parts of other investigations,” Garland told reporters at a briefing where he also touted Justice Department efforts to establish federal oversight of the water supply system in Jackson, Miss….

Tuesday’s verdicts upheld a key Justice Department argument laid out in the seven-week-long trial: that the breach of the Capitol was not an isolated event, but rather a culmination or component of wider plotting by extremists who wanted to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Biden. In this case, the jury found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs, at least partially responsible for staging firearms and preparing to forcibly oppose federal authority. Both were convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” a rarely used charge that is among the most serious levied so far in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation.

Justice Department officials had been eyeing the Oath Keepers verdict to help decide whether to file criminal charges against other high-profile, pro-Trump figures who had roles in the buildup to the violence, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

Garland also said he hopes to get access to the interviews conducted by the House January 6 Committee.

At the briefing with reporters Tuesday, Garland also said that he has asked the House Jan. 6 committee — which has been pursuing a separate investigation into the attack — for all interview transcripts and evidence that it has collected. That’s long been a point of tension between the Justice Department and Congress, with the committee yet to hand over all the materials.

“We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigation,” Garland said.

Old lady having a tea Gaitano Bellai

Old lady having a tea, by Gaitano Bellai

From Raw Story, a report of an MSNBC interview with Bob Woodward: Bob Woodward: Oath Keepers convictions puts new pressure on DOJ to indict Trump.

The convictions of two Oath Keepers leaders on seditious conspiracy charges puts new pressure on the Department of Justice to indict Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his lieutenant Kelly Meggs were found guilty this week for their roles in the U.S. Capitol assault, and other militia members were convicted on other charges, and Woodward told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” those cases would weigh on attorney general Merrick Garland and newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.

“It gives them a strong basis,” Woodward said. “I think we are now at this point that the Justice Department, the new special counsel is going to have to indict Trump or explain why they are not indicting him. Now, that’s certainly possible that they won’t — prosecutors have discretion, but the case of the violation — I’m sorry, it’s technical 18 U.S.C. 371 — conspiring, working to subvert a lawful function of government is right there in plain sight.”

Garland responded to the Oath Keepers convictions by pledging to hold others accountable for trying to overturn the 2020 election, and the House Select Committee will decide soon whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department against the former president.

“In a way, they’re interesting fodder for us to discuss,” Woodward said, “but I really think if you get, you know, Garland is there talking about the dedication and efforts that people have made in doing this investigation. Dedication and effort is wonderful. What is most wonderful is evidence, and they have compelling evidence.”

Watch the video at the Raw Story link.

Just a few months ago, I knew nothing about Elon Musk. Now he’s everywhere. Here’s the latest crazy Musk story:

The Daily Beast: Elon Musk Claims Neuralink Will Put Brain Chips in Humans in 6 Months.

Neuralink, the neurotech startup spearheaded by Chief Twit Elon Musk, held their much-ballyhooed and oft-delayed tech demo on Wednesday night—promising a lot while showing little in the way of progress towards their lofty promises.

Musk was joined on stage by numerous Neuralink engineers and researchers to explain the technology they’ve been working on for the past few years. This included the N1 link, the company’s wireless brain-computer interface (BCI); and the R1, a robot that the company said would be able to implant an N1 in a human brain. The bot was present at the event conducting a simulated surgery on a dummy while presentations occurred.

The team also announced that the N1 chip was capable of being wirelessly charged, which would be a massive improvement in most current BCI technology which typically requires the devices to be tethered.

Jantina Peperkamp.

Painting by Jantina Peperkamp.

“I could have a Neuralink device implanted right now and you wouldn’t even know,” Musk joked, later adding, “In one of these demos I will.”

However, Musk announced that it would still be at least half a year until Neuralink would be able to begin human trials. “We’ve submitted most of our paperwork to the FDA. In about six months, we should be able to have our first Neuralink in humans,” he said.

The demo was initially slated for Oct. 31 but was delayed by Musk just eight days before it was set to launch. He did not give a reason for the schedule push. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the event itself was also delayed by more than half an hour before it started. Musk then took to the stage and stumbled through an awkward, meandering monologue where he touched on topics from AI, to how BCIs work, to something about how humans are all cyborgs.

WTF? I have no idea what these people are talking about. Maybe Quixote knows what this is all about?

“The overarching goal of Neuralink is to create a whole brain interface,” Musk explained, later using a photo of the character Rick Sanchez from the TV show Rick and Morty to illustrate his point. “So a generalized input-output device that in the long term that could interface with every aspect of your brain, and in the short term can interface with any section of your brain and solve things that cause debilitating issues for people.”

Musk also made a number of very lofty promises that should be taken with a Cybertruck-sized grain of salt if his history of overpromising and under delivering is any indication. This included the idea that the Neuralink will be able to restore vision even to those who were born blind, and also that it could restore mobility back to those who have had their spinal cord severed.

He mentioned that the N1 would allow patients to use it wirelessly and remotely in most any setting outside of a lab—which would be groundbreaking if it, you know, actually ever happens. Rajesh Rao, Hwang professor and director of the Center for Neurotechnology at the University of Washington, told The Daily Beast that this would represent a significant leap forward for BCI technologies—and showcase something that has truly never been done before.

OK, now I’m starting to get it. Read more at the Daily Beast link. I just wish Musk would hurry up and go to Mars and leave us alone.

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial

Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial

Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial

Elon Musk claims Neuralink is about ‘six months’ away from first human trial


Sunday Reads: The Village People

Good morning, let’s get this party started…cartoons via Cagle:

On Monday…I may be live tweeting this court proceeding:

In college I did my thesis on women in early Medieval Irish Literature…so this next link was up my dark alley:

This is an open thread, please take it easy today.


Wednesday Reads: Dog Lips

Morning all…I forgot it was my turn to post the thread…so this is going to be a quickie.

Cartoons from Cagle:

This is shitty news.

This is an open thread.