Friday Reads: You Shouldn’t go Back Home

Good Day Sky Dancers!

BB talked to me about how I’d probably be writing about this today. I was in the fetal position because I knew it would take me right back to when I had to deal with people like her all the time.

Anyone who knows me knows I consider my time in Omaha to be in service to a Lost Cause. I must’ve done something horrible in a previous life because the entire time there was like some sadistic penance. It took me about one year into high school to beg my parents to let me graduate early and head to university in someplace civilized with better food, entertainment, and just about everything you could name. I hung out with a very small group of people that graduated and immediately left. I should’ve and could’ve but that’s another story.

An illustration of this and probably also in service to whatever karmic debt forced me to spend time there, I have to be the one to cover one of my high school classmates who probably best represents why I felt miserable being there and traveled a lot to get some reprieve. Yes, Daughter of absolute raging John Birchers and scorned even by those of us that were in the Young Republicans Club at my school which included me at the time went to my High School. She was a year behind me. Today, she is married to Judge Uncle Clarence Thomas and spreading her special form of crazy to the District. The tales of her from the debate club were just unfortunate. However, she hooked on to one of my least favorite politicians wife-beater Hal Daub, former congressman, and mayor. And yes, I knew him and he knew me. I’d just like you to know I always felt like I needed to take a bleach shower after being around him. He mainstreamed her.

I also knew Kurt Andersen because he was the darling of the Journalism Teacher and I was just about to start my sophomore year studying it. Here’s a confluence of the Good and The Bad and Evil of what my high school could turn out in all its white privilege. “How Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, influences the Supreme Court” from Dave Davies and Fresh Air at NPR. This is from the end of January of this year. It’s an interview with Journalist Extraordinaire Jane Mayer.

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR, and we’re speaking with New Yorker, staff writer and chief Washington correspondent Jane Mayer. Her latest article examines the conservative activism and influence of Ginni Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Let’s just talk a little bit about Ginni Thomas’ background. She grew up in Nebraska. What do we know about her family?

MAYER: Well, she grew up in a kind of upper-middle-class family in Omaha, Neb. Her father was a engineer and a developer of sort of housing complexes. And her family was very conservative and very active in politics. And one of the people I interviewed is the journalist Kurt Andersen, who grew up exactly across the street from the Lamp family. Her name before she got married was Virginia Lamp. And he said that his parents were actually Goldwater Republicans. But even they thought the Lamps were – what he said was crazy. They were – he looks at them as kind of the beginning of the modern, crazy right wing. They believed in things like the John Birch Society, and they were afraid that there was fluoridation in the water that was somehow poisoning people’s minds – that kind of thing.

DAVIES: She makes her way to Washington. How does she get there and – I don’t know. Her life took some interesting detours there; didn’t they?

MAYER: Yeah, it did. She went to Washington with the local congressman when he was elected. Her family knew him, and she got a job in his office. But it looks like she had sort of some rocky years. She was a law student. She flunked the bar exam, the state bar exam in Nebraska, and she sort of fell in with a self-help sort of self-actualization kind of cult called Lifespring in Washington, where the members kind of got into ritual humiliation of each other. They’d strip down out of their clothes and then mock each other’s body fat. And it sounded grim and kind of scary. But anyway, she was then deprogrammed, got out of it, became anti-cult. But that was a phase of her life before she met Clarence Thomas.

Yes. She belonged to a cult AND she flunked the Nebraska Bar Exam, which ranks 46 out of 50 of the hardest bar exams. It has about a 90% passage rate. So, in other words, she’s no Rhodes Scholar. Those of us who watched the Anita Hill testimony in horror also remember her crazy-go-nuts phone call to Professor Hill demanding an apology. If you want to read about LifeSpring you can see this on Psychology Wiki. I’ll defer to Dr. Boomer for anything that needs explaining. She’s just plain crazy in my book and hangs around with the least ethical individuals I’ve ever known about. Plus, she’s absolutely convinced she’s one of the few who get everything right.

I’m also using another one of my classmate’s political cartoons today! Just so you know, we did turn out a lot of decent and talented people that I still call friends. John Buss got out too! His political cartoons rock! (@Repeat1968).

Let’s say she’s a horrifying example of white privilege. Her husband is now out of the hospital and facing mounting ethics scrutiny. This is from The Hill.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was discharged from the hospital earlier today, a court spokesperson said, a development that comes amid mounting ethical scrutiny of the conservative justice.

Thomas, 73, was admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington on March 18 after experiencing “flu-like symptoms.” He was diagnosed with an infection and treated with intravenous antibiotics. A court spokesperson did not respond to a request for additional details on his health status.

Thomas faces growing ethics questions after recent reports of his wife’s aggressive effort to overturn former President Trump’s electoral defeat and participation in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally have renewed scrutiny of the justice’s refusal to step aside from related disputes that have come before the Supreme Court.

And now let’s get straight to Ginnie’s latest antics. This is from The Washington Post and may the wisdom beings bless whoever leaked it to them. “Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show. In messages to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the weeks after Election Day, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Biden’s victory “the greatest Heist of our History” and told him that President Donald Trump should not concede.” The bylines go to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The story broke at suppertime yesterday. I had to let my sushi settle before reading knowing full well it would be stomach-churning in terms of crazy and lack of ethical awareness.

The messages — 29 in all — reveal an extraordinary pipeline between Virginia Thomas, who goes by Ginni, and President Donald Trump’s top aide during a period when Trump and his allies were vowing to go to the Supreme Court in an effort to negate the election results.

On Nov. 10, after news organizations had projected Joe Biden the winner based on state vote totals, Thomas wrote to Meadows: “Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!…You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

When Meadows wrote to Thomas on Nov. 24, the White House chief of staff invoked God to describe the effort to overturn the election. “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it. Well at least my time in DC on it.”

Thomas replied: “Thank you!! Needed that! This plus a conversation with my best friend just now… I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it!”

It is unclear to whom Thomas was referring.

The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show for the first time how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner circle to promote and seek to guide the president’s strategy to overturn the election results — and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Among Thomas’s stated goals in the messages was for lawyer Sidney Powell, who promoted incendiary and unsupported claims about the election, to be “the lead and the face” of Trump’s legal team.

And now back to Jane Mayer writing for The New Yorker: “Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas’s “Stop the Steal” Texts. Several experts say that Thomas’s husband, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, must recuse himself from any case related to the 2020 election.”

Several of the country’s most respected legal scholars say that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas must immediately recuse himself from any cases relating to the 2020 election and its aftermath, now that it has been revealed that his wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, colluded extensively with a top White House adviser about overturning Joe Biden’s defeat of then President Donald Trump. On March 24th, the Washington Post and CBS News revealed that they had obtained copies of twenty-nine text messages between Ginni Thomas and Mark Meadows, the Trump White House chief of staff, in which she militated relentlessly for invalidating the results of the Presidential election, which she described as an “obvious fraud.” It was necessary, she told Meadows, to “release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down.” Ginni Thomas’s texts to Meadows also refer to conversations that she’d had with “Jared”—possibly Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who also served as a senior adviser to the Administration. (“Just forwarded to yr gmail an email I sent Jared this am.”)

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at N.Y.U. and a prominent judicial ethicist, described the revelations as “a game changer.” In the past, he explained, he had supported the notion that a Justice and his spouse could pursue their interests in autonomous spheres. “For that reason, I was prepared to, and did tolerate a great deal of Ginni’s political activism,” he said. But “Ginni has now crossed a line.” In an e-mail reacting to the texts, Gillers concluded, “Clarence Thomas cannot sit on any matter involving the election, the invasion of the Capitol, or the work of the January 6 Committee.”

One more before I have to return to therapy. This is from The New York Times: “Ginni and Clarence Thomas Have Done Enough Damage”. It’s an OpEd by Jesse Wegman.

Ms. Thomas had already acknowledged some involvement in the fight over the 2020 election count, recently confirming that she attended the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally in Washington, but she said she went home before Mr. Trump spoke to the crowd and before a mob of hundreds stormed the Capitol in a violent attempt to block the certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory. The texts reveal that her efforts to subvert the election were far more serious than we knew.

Now recall that in January, the Supreme Court rejected Mr. Trump’s request to block the release of White House records relating to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Mr. Meadows had submitted a brief in the case supporting Mr. Trump. The court’s ruling came as an unsigned order, with only one noted dissent: from Justice Thomas.

Perhaps Justice Thomas was not aware of his wife’s text-message campaign to Mr. Meadows at the time. But it sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

And that’s precisely the problem: We shouldn’t have to wonder. The Supreme Court is the most powerful judicial body in the country, and yet, as Alexander Hamilton reminded us, it has neither the sword nor the purse as a means to enforce its rulings. It depends instead on the American people’s acceptance of its legitimacy, which is why the justices must make every possible effort to appear fair, unbiased and beyond reproach.

That may seem naïve, particularly in the face of the crippling assaults on the court that Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans have carried out over the past six years in order to secure a right-wing supermajority that often resembles a judicial policy arm of the Republican Party — starting with their theft of a vacancy that was President Barack Obama’s to fill and continuing through the last-second confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett while millions of voters were already in the process of casting Mr. Trump out of office.

And yet the public’s demand for basic fairness and judicial neutrality is not only proper but critical to the court’s integrity, as the justices, whoever nominated them, are well aware. Partly in response to the court’s tanking public-approval ratings, several of them have grown increasingly outspoken in defense of their independence. (Though not all of them.)

The most obvious way for justices to demonstrate that independence in practice, of course, is to recuse themselves from any case in which their impartiality might reasonably be questioned. It does not matter whether there is, in fact, a conflict of interest; the mere appearance of bias or conflict should be enough to compel Justice Thomas or any other member of the court to step aside.

Just more shit from the Treason Party.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Seditious Conspiracy Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Yesterday sure brought out the history buff in me.  I actually had to do some research on the Seditious Conspiracy Act to find out exactly what it was and how it’s been used in the past.  Then, I’ve learned more about the filibuster than I thought there was to know including this tidbit from the late great Vice President Hubert Humphrey.  The link goes to his original speech and wow, it was a great one! The link goes to the “Senate Floor, Digest of Humphrey Speeches on Civil Rights, March 14 and 16, 1949.”  The date is right about the time that the Dixiecrats were beginning to feel uncomfortable in the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, we’re discovering just how neo-confederate the Republican party has become. Yesterday, the House voted on the two Democratic plans to ensure voting rights and access.  The stark difference in this vote foreshadows the mess that the Senate Faces.

History shows us how today became the day that the Republican party officially became the party of Jim Crow and White Supremacy.  Lincoln would weep.

There were a few left even as the Southern Strategy begin to bear its strange fruit.

But, no more. They realize they can only hold office and the presidency by suppressing the votes of POC and the young.

Mug shot of Leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, 56 who shot his eye out in a gun accident. Elemer rates really high on my ewwwww factor scale.

Voter suppression is totally necessary to the success of the soft coup. Yesterday, there was big news on the hard coup.

The news yesterday sent me down a rabbit to learn about The Seditious Conspiracy Act.  The first good explanation I heard was on MSNBC. (Ignore Chuckie Todd.) “Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance breaks down what she calls an “enormously significant step” by the Department of Justice” when they arrested a group of Oath Keepers involved in the January 6 insurrection including the leader of the group.

The Washington Post explains the sedition part of the act at this link.

The charge is defined in the federal criminal code, Section 2384, as an effort by two or more to “conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The article also elucidates its infrequent, historical use.

Seditious conspiracy has been used successfully in a handful of cases, most notably against the planner of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef. Most recently, it was used in 2010 against nine members of the far-right Hutaree, a self-styled militia group that the FBI prosecuted in federal court for allegedly planning a violent anti-government revolt. In that case, a judge dismissed the seditious conspiracy charges, saying that prosecutors failed to prove that the group planned to carry out specific attacks.

This is an interesting interview with Elmer’s ex from The Daily Beast.

One day after his arrest on charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riots, the estranged wife of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes went on CNN and called him a “complete sociopath.” Tasha Adams announced joy over his arrest and discussed fears for her family’s safety: “I knew I lived in fear he might show up here. But the… just setting that weight down and knowing we were safe and my kids were safe and my kids’ school doesn’t have to worry, that was a relief I didn’t know existed.” When asked by CNN’s John Berman of what threat she feels Rhodes poses to the country at large, Adams responded “He’s a dangerous man.” She added, “He sees himself as a great leader, he almost has his own mythology of himself and I think he almost made it come true as seeing him self as some sort of figure in history and it sort of happened. He’s a complete sociopath, he does not feel empathy for anyone around him at all.”

Amanda Carpenter at The Bulwark writes this: “Sedition Charges Demolish a Right-Wing Talking Point. Steve Bannon and other Trump defenders had bizarrely contended that Jan. 6th was no big deal because there were no indictments for sedition.” I’m just salivating at the thought that Roger Stone and Steve Bannon might be next up on those sedition charges.

Steve Bannon thought he had a really great point on his podcast last Wednesday—the day before the anniversary of the Jan. 6th insurrection.

The federal government, he noted, led historic investigations against the Communists, the Black Panthers, the Ku Klux Klan, the Weathermen, jihadist terrorists, and others. But the government had failed to bring any major charges against the Jan. 6th rioters:

[Attorney General] Merrick Garland has said . . . this is the largest criminal investigation in the history of the FBI, the largest criminal investigation. . . . I’m talking about the largest criminal investigation. They’ve had big-time investigations before. This is larger than that. They brag about it. I just want to repeat, nobody’s been charged with insurrection. One year after. Nobody’s been charged with sedition.

The takeaway was that the Jan. 6th investigation is just another ginned-up witch hunt, a hoax investigation meant to get Trump, à la impeachment 1.0 and 2.0.

Bannon wasn’t alone in suggesting that the Jan. 6th investigation was a big bust. Also on Wednesday of last week, the Wall Street Journal published a piece by former Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia Jeffrey Scott Shapiro titled “Stop Calling It An Insurrection.” He wrote:

The demonstrators who unlawfully entered the Capitol during the Electoral College count were unarmed and had no intention of overthrowing the U.S. constitutional system or engaging in a conspiracy “against the United States, or to defraud the United States.”

And:

Those who violated the law inside the U.S. Capitol should be prosecuted and, if convicted, sentenced accordingly. But dramatizing a riot as an organized, racist, armed insurrection is false reporting and dangerous political gaslighting.

The next night, on the actual anniversary of the Jan. 6th attack, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham made the same point on her broadcast.

How many times have you heard all those buzzwords used in the press just in the last few days? But here’s a question. How many times do words like “insurrection,” “sedition,” or “treason” appear in Biden’s own DOJ indictments against the January 6 rioters? The answer: zero.

Ingraham asked her guest, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, a leading question: “The charges stemming from the January 6 riots are actually a big tell, are they not, about what the DOJ actually thinks about this case?” Turley’s reply:

The FBI arrested hundreds. They investigated thousands. And they did not find a conspiracy for insurrection or rebellion. They didn’t charge those crimes. They didn’t charge anything like them. What they found was a protest that had become a riot. And that’s also what the American people see.

The impression here, dear readers, is that because no sedition charges had been brought, there was simply no reason anyone should be worked up about Jan. 6th.

Again, Bannon, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News all promoted this notion just last week.

But those talking points expired yesterday, when the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that charged 11 members of the Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the breach of the Capitol. This is the first time seditious conspiracy has been charged in connection to Jan. 6th cases.

Other suggested reads:

All this is history-in-the-making that I would have never thought possible.

Have a good week!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Of Insurrectionists and Fools

Good Monday Sky Dancers!

Anita Malfatti, The Fool, 1913, (Museum of Contemporary Art of University of São Paulo, Brazil)

The Republican Insurrection Show continues.  Watching the Cult of the Stupid hurts my head but we must see these things. First up is what I consider a “big fucking deal”.  We’ve heard that many members of Congress and their staff felt that there were colleagues handing out free tickets and maps to the building.  CNN has evidence of it: “Video appears to show GOP Oregon lawmaker telling protesters how to enter closed state Capitol”.

An Oregon state lawmaker who has been charged after he allegedly allowed protesters into the closed state Capitol building during a debate over Covid-19 restrictions is seen in new video appearing to give insights into how to access the Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police.

Rep. Mike Nearman, a Republican, appears in a 78-minute video in which he is speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up “Operation Hall Pass,” according to a clip reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting that is posted on YouTube and says it was streamed on December 16, 2020.

It is unclear if he is aware he’s being recorded.

At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance this will allow them to “develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing.

Later in the video, the Oregon state representative and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access into the building and whom to call.

“We are talking about setting up Operation Hall Pass, which I don’t know anything about; and if you accuse me of knowing something about it, I’ll deny it. But there would be some person’s cell phone which might be … but that is just random numbers that I spewed out; that’s not anybody’s actual cell phone. And if you say, ‘I’m at the west entrance’ during the session and text to that number there, that somebody might exit that door while you’re standing there. But I don’t know anything about that, I don’t have anything to do with that, and if I did I wouldn’t say that I did. But anyways that number that I didn’t say was … So don’t text that number but a number like that,” Nearman says to an undisclosed audience.

Franz Kline
Large Clown (Nijinsky as Petrouchka) c.1948

There’s more.  It’s becoming abundantly clear that this was a premeditated event, well planned, and included elected officials.

Amanda Taub and From Doomsday Preppers to Doomsday Plotters.  Far-right movements have long dreamed of a moment that ends society as we’ve known it. Now, experts say, so-called accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could destabilize democracy.”

For QAnon it is “The Storm,” when mass violence will topple the elite cabal of pedophiles who they imagine to be running the government. White-power groups in the United States have long promised a catastrophic race war. And in Germany and Austria, neo-Nazis herald an imagined putsch on “Day X” — when the democratic order collapses and they take over.

All are examples of “accelerationist” ideologies, which promise a moment when the institutions of government, society and the economy will be wiped out in a wave of catastrophic violence, clearing the way for a utopia that will supposedly follow.

Accelerationism has long been a feature of white-power groups and other far-right militias. But now, experts say, accelerationist thinking is proliferating in ways that could threaten not just public safety, but the stability of democracy itself.

“In many ways we can see how Jan. 6 was a kind of loosely formed coalition around this idea of accelerationism,” said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, the director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University, said of the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last January.

Mainstream leaders, she believes, are failing to heed the risk that coalition could pose. “My fear is that we are, as a country, starting to treat that like a one-time fluke rather than as a potential turning point.”

“I have thought a lot about the parallels with the Weimar Republic,” the fragile period of democracy in Germany whose collapse allowed the Nazis to take power, she said. It was marked by a series of attacks, failed coups and other efforts to undermine democracy. And even though actions like Hitler’s beer-hall putsch failed, German democracy was ultimately not strong enough to withstand the chaos.

The poor fool (c.1914-1915) – Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso(1897-1918)

CNN also reports that Congressman Eric Swalwell has served Mo Brooks with a lawsuit.  This is the lede: “Rep. Mo Brooks served with lawsuit related to his role in Capitol insurrection”.  This is a wild little story you can watch if you’d prefer.

Alabama GOP Rep. Mo Brooks was served with a lawsuit filed by California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell seeking to hold him partially accountable for the January 6 insurrection, according to a tweet from Brooks and an attorney for Swalwell.

“Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!” Brooks wrote on Twitter.

Swalwell’s legal team had had difficulty serving Brooks and hired a private investigator to give him the papers, according to court filings. Swalwell’s attorney, Matthew Kaiser, told CNN Sunday that a private investigator had left the papers with Brooks’ wife at their home in Alabama.

CNN is unable to corroborate Brooks’ claim that Swalwell’s team committed a crime. CNN has reached out to the offices of both Brooks and Swalwell for comment.

The Swalwell legal team has not formally notified the court that Brooks has been served, but that likely will be coming soon. The process server will have to provide a sworn affidavit to the court, as is typical in this procedural phase of a lawsuit. Serving the papers is important because it starts a clock in court for Brooks, the defendant, to respond to Swalwell’s accusations, which seek to hold him, ex-President Donald Trump and others liable for the January 6 attack on Congress. If Brooks doesn’t believe he was properly served, he will have the opportunity to contest it in court. >

Outcast Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is still at it. From Mychael Schnell at The Hill: Cheney compares Trump claims to Chinese Communist Party: ‘It’s very dangerous’.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is comparing former President Trump‘s election claims to those of the Chinese Communist Party, concluding “it’s very dangerous and damaging.”

“When you listen to Donald Trump talk now, when you hear the language he’s using now, it is essentially the same things that the Chinese Communist Party, for example, says about the United States and our democracy,” Cheney said on “The Axe Files” podcast, which was released on Monday.

“When he says that our system doesn’t work … when he suggests that it’s, you know, incapable of conveying the will of the people, you know, that somehow it’s failed — those are the same things that the Chinese government says about us,” Cheney continued. “It’s very dangerous and damaging … and it’s not true.”

Cheney’s remarks come nearly one month after she was removed from her leadership position, in part because of her anti-Trump stance. She repeatedly called out Trump for his false claims of election fraud and refused to give credibility to his belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

Cheney was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as House GOP Conference chair. Minutes after her ouster, Cheney vowed to “do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”

“In the Studio” (1975). Philip Guston

Well, that’s not subtle at all.

In other news, Dixicrat Joe Manchin continues his performance art as the last fool standing.   From WAPO and James Downie: “Joe Manchin’s mighty delusions”.

Sen. Joe Manchin III is at it again. In the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, the West Virginia Democrat announced his opposition to the For the People Act and doubled down on his commitment to keeping the Senate filibuster. He coupled the op-ed with appearances on “Fox News Sunday” and CBS’s “Face the Nation” — a media tour that cemented his status as the country’s most infuriating politician.

What makes Manchin’s stances so aggravating? It’s not that his views are insincere. Unlike with some other senators, there’s no doubting the West Virginia senator’s earnestness. He hasn’t changed from running as a Green Party candidate and ardently backing a higher minimum wage to merrily voting against it, as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has. He hasn’t consistently promised to put principle over party only to fall in line when Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) commands, like Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) or a number of other Republicans have.

Perhaps the issue is the laziness of Manchin’s centrism. Rather than a mix of substantive policy stances, some left and some right, Manchin simply takes the middle of the two parties’ stances. For example, President Biden wants a 28 percent corporate tax rate, while Republicans want 21 percent. So Manchin backs 25 percent. Democrats want a $15-an-hour minimum wage, while Republicans want $10? Manchin supports $11. One gets the sense that if Manchin were told one side believes two plus two equals four and the other side believes it equals eight, he’d conclude that it equals six — and that saying otherwise divides the country. But this approach is not unusual in Washington, particularly among media voices who cling to a “both sides” view of politics. So that is not the crux.

The rich fool
Rembrandt
Original Title: De rijke dwaas
Date: 1627

The Supreme Court’s latest move as provided by NBC: “Supreme Court declines to hear lawsuit challenging male-only draft. Three justices said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering changing the law.”

The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider the constitutionality of a federal law requiring men, but not women, to register for the military draft when they turn 18.

As is its usual practice, the court didn’t say why it wouldn’t take the case. But three justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh, said the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on military issues cautions against taking the case while lawmakers are considering whether to change the law.

federal judge in Texas said the law violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. But a federal appeals court overturned the ruling, concluding that it was bound by a 1981 Supreme Court decision upholding the men-only requirement.

One last thing and it’s your turn to respond and share!

So have a good week! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Mugwump Edition

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It seems Republicans in the Beltway would rather not think about the Trumpist insurrection on January 6, 2021. We’ve been told it was just a typical tourist outing.  We get told we should get beyond it and work on issues and stuff which basically means using Fox propaganda to talk down any policy but catering to crazy right-wing Christianists and white nationalists or tax-cutting for huge corporations and billionaires. We were also told it wasn’t Trumpists.  All that adds up to telling us to not believe our lying eyes reinforced by repeated videos playing showing something quite different.  Also, don’t believe the stories of Capitol Officers impaled on flagpoles bearing flags stating said impaler supports the police.

Why even the target of the lynch mob–then Vice President Mike Pence–couldn’t get respect from his brother yesterday.  This is from Newsweek: “Greg Pence, Mike Pence’s Brother, Votes Against Jan. 6 Commission, Calls It ‘Cover-up for Failed Biden Admin’.”  Yup, I don’t get that statement either.

The brother of former Vice President Mike Pence is defending his House vote against a commission to investigate the violent attack on the United State Capitol that forced his brother into a secured location, calling it a “cover-up for the failed Biden administration.”

“I was here with him, he never left his post,” U.S. Representative Greg Pence, a Republican from Indiana, told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “We impeached the president weeks, days later and now here we are having an investigation? Sounds a little bassackwards, right?”

The 1/6 Commission, modeled after the panel assigned to review the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would review the lead-up to the attack, Capitol security, and future measures that should be taken to prevent another Capitol security issue.

Intelligence doesn’t seem to run in that family.

And so we’re still living the big lie in states targeted for illegal vote recounts.  Arizona’s been the laughing stock of the country since the Cyber Ninjas arrived to destroy ballots and search for bamboo in ballots. The Cyber Ninjas are taking it to those states along with rallies by your favorite lie shouting fascist. And you thought he was only around fleecing the government for Secret Service shananigans still.   States that he will not admit he lost will see the Disgraced Former Guy at rallies.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has taken up the call for a bi-partisan investigation into the January 6 insurrection.  Here are two thought pieces on that.

Haley Byrd Wilt writing for Uphill at the Dispatch has this headline: “GOP Senators Dig In Against January 6 Commission,  Many say they still haven’t read the legislation. But they have problems with it.”

Most Senate Republicans are opposed to the House’s proposed independent commission to look into the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the events leading up to it. They’re just not exactly sure why.

In interviews with more than 20 GOP senators on Thursday, Republicans raised fears about how the commission would work, how long it would last, and whether it would amount to a partisan circus. The answers to many of these questions are in the text of the relatively straightforward, 19-page bill passed by the House this week. When pressed on the gap between the details of the bill and their portrayal of it, some senators simply admitted they hadn’t read the legislation.

“If you’re going to turn a commission into a political partisan weapon, you know, use it to subpoena people to embarrass them, use it to want to make allegations that might prove useful in the 2022 elections, you’re actually contributing to the problem,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio—who initially expressed more openness to the commission in a conversation with The Dispatch on Monday night. “My general feeling is that if we can have a serious examination of the events leading up to, occurring, and in the aftermath of that day, we should do it,” Rubio said at the time, notably splitting with Republican leaders who called for the commission to also look into violence largely unrelated to January 6. He said Thursday he still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of supporting the commission, but he sounded a lot more skeptical.

“I’m worried about what it would do to our country to have a so-called independent commission that ultimately turns into a partisan political weapon that continues to exacerbate these tensions and divide people even more,” he said. “Because in a way, it sort of contributes to the very environment that made that day possible.”

Rubio’s concern that the commission will issue political subpoenas is addressed by the legislation: The commission would be evenly divided, with five members appointed by Democratic leaders and five appointed by Republican leaders. For Democrats to issue any subpoena, at least one of the five Republican members would have to agree to it. This was a key demand from GOP leaders—that their appointees would essentially have the power to veto subpoenas. That massive concession from Democrats hasn’t made much of an impression on Republican senators, though.

“Well, I’m still going through all the details of it,” Rubio said when The Dispatch pointed out how the commission would be structured and how subpoenas would be issued. “Honestly, we’ve got so much going on here. This is something the House just passed.”

“I haven’t even read it,” Rubio added. “I mean, it just came over. But just my overarching concern is I can already see the shadow of how this is going to be used for a political purpose, and I’m not interested in formalizing some partisan political weapon by either side.”

The bill text has been publicly available since last Friday. The two parties debated the contours of the commission for four months. It would take maybe a couple of minutes for a staffer to outline the important details for their boss—or just a few minutes longer for a lawmaker to actually read the legislation itself. There’s also, of course, a famous precedent that the bill can be compared with: The original September 11 commission legislation.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A Capitol police officer looks out of a broken window as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

This lead to a look and a threat of Filibuster and Fillibuster reform.  This is from Burgess Everett at Politico: “Filibuster brawl amps up with GOP opposition to Jan. 6 panel

The filibuster has been on hiatus since Joe Biden took over. Senate Republicans are about to change that — over a bipartisan commission to probe the Capitol riot.

After more than four months of letting their power to obstruct lie unused in the Senate, the 50-member Senate GOP is ready to mount a filibuster of House-passed legislation creating an independent cross-aisle panel to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection. If Republicans follow through and block the bill, they will spark a long-building fight over the filibuster’s very existence.

The filibuster has spent months of lurking in the background of the Senate’s daily business, but the battle over the chamber’s 60-vote threshold will erupt as soon as next week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is plotting to bring the House’s Jan. 6 commission bill to the floor and daring Senate Republicans to block it.

And GOP opposition is hardening by the day. According to interviews with more than a half-dozen Republicans on Thursday, there is almost no path to even opening up debate on the bill — much less passing it.

“I don’t think there will be 10 votes on our side for it,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind). “At this stage, I’d be surprised if you’re gonna get even a handful.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been circumspect about his use of the filibuster, leaving the tool untouched so far this Congress as his conference has advanced Democratic bills confronting hate crimes, planning water infrastructure and increasing American competitiveness. But the Jan. 6 commission — and talking about former President Donald Trump for months on end — is a bridge too far for the GOP.

So, an armed insurrection that threatened the lives of this new brand of mugwumps wasn’t a bridge too far for them.  Say we had a 9/11 attack and nobody gave a damn enough to look into it?

So, there are a few former republicans around watching all of this with absolute fear and loathing.  Michael Gerson is not a guy I usually quote but here we go.

The Washington Post: Opinion: The threat of violence now infuses GOP politics. We should all be afraid.”

American politics is being conducted under the threat of violence.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has a talent for constructive bluntness, describes a political atmosphere within the GOP heavy with fear. “If you look at the vote to impeach,” she said recently, “there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives.” The events of Jan. 6 have only intensified the alarm. When Donald Trump insists he is “still the rightful president,” Cheney wrote in an op-ed for The Post, he “repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6.” And there’s good reason, Cheney argued, “to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again.”

Sometimes political events force us to step back in awe, or horror, or both. The (former) third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives has accused a former president of her party of employing the threat of violence as a tool of intimidation. And election officials around the country — Republican and Democratic — can attest to the results: Death threatsRacist harassmentArmed protesters at their homes.

He’s obviously never defended a women’s clinic from right to lifer’s, or a Unitarian church, or had his kids stalked by them either. I’ve been subjected to this stuff since the 1980s when Pat Robertson and the like got all Republican on us.  It’s been there for a long time.  I remind you I was considered an apostate republican in 1992 for supporting Roe V Wade, the Equal Rights Amendment, and marching through streets with lesbians celebrating women’s suffrage.  They’ve been at this for decades.

I still can’t believe what they’ve put Hillary Clinton through for decades. Over 30 freaking Benghazi hearings that find nothing and we can’t get an investigation into folks trying to start a Civil War over a total lie?

So, Former Guy!! This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!   At least he can’t do this anymore.  Via CNN: “Trump administration secretly obtained CNN reporter’s phone and email records  —  Washington (CNN)The Trump administration secretly sought and obtained the 2017 phone and email records of a CNN correspondent, the latest instance where federal prosecutors have taken aggressive steps targeting journalists in leak investigations.”

Wow, that’s a total disregard for the First Amendment.  I have a feeling we’ll hear more about what kinds of things Barr and the former guy did strictly against the Constitution and law.

Meanwhile, we’re still standing.  Have a good weekend!  Be safe!