Mostly Monday Reads: The Republican Grinch Awards

Deer in the Snow, Franz Marc,1911

It’s warming up here, and I feel like a wet noodle.  My body has just gone limp from the current temperatures in the house.  It got pretty cold in the front two rooms, but I managed to head off any pipe bursts. It’s headed toward the 70s, and that’s fine for me! I can only imagine what the banana trees in the backyard look like because I’m not going there right now.  I’m going to deal with the sideyard gardens first.

This year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis won “The Republican Grinch” award.  This reporting is by Noah Gray at CNN. “More migrants dropped off outside vice president’s home in freezing weather on Christmas Eve.”  Greg Abbot represents the worst of our country and of humanity. I’m sure he’s got a hot meal and acting all smug about his religion. Probably even went to church to be all joyous. But, really, is this what it’s about America? Is this what White American Christian nationalists are all about?

Several busloads of migrants were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC, on Christmas Eve in 18 degree weather late Saturday.

An initial two busloads were taken to local shelters, according to an administration official. More buses arrived outside the vice president’s residence later Saturday evening. A CNN team saw migrants being dropped off, with some migrants wearing only T-shirts in the freezing weather. They were given blankets and put on another bus that went to a local church.

Amy Fischer, a volunteer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, which has been receiving migrants sent to DC since the spring, said the organization had been prepared for Saturday night’s arrivals, having been informed about it earlier by an NGO working at the border in Texas.

The arrivals included asylum seekers from Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Peru and Colombia, according to Fischer, who told CNN the buses were supposed to go to New York but were diverted to DC due to the weather. Busloads of migrants have been arriving in Washington weekly since April.

“The DC community has been welcoming buses from Texas anytime they’ve come since April. Christmas Eve and freezing cold weather is no different,” Fischer said. “We are always here welcoming folks with open arms.”

SAMU First Response, a nonprofit that has been assisting migrants since the buses began coming to Washington earlier this year, was also on the ground Saturday night helping arrivals. The organization’s managing director, Tatiana Laborde, described the stunt as “extremely inhumane,” but said, if done properly, it could provide a road map to easing tensions at the southern border.

Siberian Dogs in the Snow, 1909-1910, by Franz Marc

Twitter was acting cranky all weekend.  Maybe, this is why. The Economic Times of Indiana reports,”‘Threat actor’ puts 400 million Twitter users’ data up for sale. If you still have an active account there, I suggest you use 2FA and immediately change your password. I really can’t take much of the place. I’ve already bumped into more right-wing trolling than I ever want to experience, and my feed looks like bedlam.

Data belonging to about 400 million Twitter users have been obtained through an exploit in Twitter up to early 2022 and put on sale by a “threat actor”.

Going by the username Ryushi, the person posted a sample database of 1,000 users with private information of well-known personalities such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Brian Krebs, Vitalik Buterin, Kevin O’Leary and Donald Trump Jr, as well as the account of India’s information and broadcasting ministry.

The person warned Twitter and its chief executive Elon Musk of the consequences, including hefty fines under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), of such a sizeable data breach.

He wrote: “Twitter or Elon Musk, if you are reading this, you are already risking a GDPR fine over 5.4 million breach. Imagine the fine for a 400 million users breach.”

The threat actor was referring to the hefty fines that might be coming Musk’s way after a top privacy regulator in the European Union opened a probe into reports of a suspected data breach that compromised the personal details of 5.4 million users last year.

He added: “Your best option to avoid paying $276 million in GDPR breach fines like Facebook did (due to 533 million users being scraped) is to buy this data exclusively.”

Friends of the Wind, by Oksana Kravchenko, is for sale here.

Washington Post has this informative report on the runners-up to the Fascist Grinch awards this year. “Here’s who helped Elon Musk buy Twitter. Who pulls the financial strings at Twitter? These are Musk’s backers.” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud tops the list at a cool $2 billion. We also know about The Qatar Investment Authority, that’s estimated to have contributed $375. The really interesting part of the list includes many of the US’ worst vulture capitalists, many of the worst parasite companies, and then Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Barclays.

Andreessen Horowitz, for example, chipped in around $400 million.

One of the most famous venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, this firm has invested in Airbnb, Lyft and Coinbase. Co-founder Marc Andreessen was one of the people who privately messaged Musk about the Twitter deal, according to court filings. “If you are considering equity partners, my growth fund is in for $250 [million] with no additional work required,” Andreessen wrote. His firm would go on to give even $400 million. He has cheered on Musk in recent weeks on Twitter, particularly during the release of the “Twitter Files,” a string of releases on behavior inside the company before the takeover.

The other co-founder, Ben Horowitz, said in several tweets that the venture capital firm believes in “Elon’s brilliance” to make Twitter “what it was meant to be.” Horowitz went on to say that Twitter suffers from a range of issues, including censorship. He said that Musk was “perhaps the only person in the world” who could build the public square people hoped for, echoing the praise that conservatives have directed toward Musk, who they see as a champion of free speech.

Story Told by My Mother, 1955, Carroll Cloar

Read more and be prepared to get mad.  Next up on the Grinch wannabe list is Florida’s Ron Desantis, whose Election Police antics keep coming up against Judges who are not amused.  This is from ABC News. “3rd case brought by DeSantis’ election police dismissed.  A third case of a defendant who was arrested by an elections police unit created by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a Republican-controlled Florida Legislature has been thrown out”

Terry Hubbard, 63, was among 20 people arrested last August on criminal charges of illegal voting in 2020 in what was the first major action taken by the the Republican’s controversial new Office of Election Crimes and Security.

A judge in Broward County this week tossed out the case on the grounds that the Office of Statewide Prosecution does not have jurisdiction to prosecute since it can only prosecute crimes that occurred in two or more counties. Two other cases were dismissed on similar grounds.

The elections police unit drew widespread criticism from Democrats and voting rights groups who feared it would serve as a political tool for the governor.

The arrests of the 20 defendants last August targeted people who were convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense and therefore exempt from a constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to some felons. Most of those charged were from Broward, Miami-Dade or Palm Beach counties, all Democratic strongholds.

DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, pushed the state legislature to create the election police unit to address voter fraud concerns that have proliferated in the GOP following former President Donald Trump’s false claims that his reelection was stolen.

Tiger in the Snow, by Katsushika Hokusai, 1849

Lawyers, Journalists, and the politically curious are still sifting through the January 6th Committee’s final report.  Here’s more on the winner of the Fascist Grinch’s attempt to use Fraudulent Electors to overturn democratic election results. The analysis is from Philp Rotner’s writing for The Bulwark.  ” What the Jan. 6th Report Says About the Fake Electors Scheme.”  “Freaking Trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the senate President.”

The fake electors were hardly the worst of what Trump visited on us. For sheer journalistic sex appeal, a scheme by a bunch of unknown, bumbling state functionaries to phony up some documents just can’t compete with a president siccing an armed mob on the Capitol. But the fake elector scandal, while not the most shocking of Trump’s predations, has long looked like the straightest route to cracking open the entire 2020 election scheme, and to getting Donald Trump indicted and convicted of a crime (at least until the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents scandal was revealed, but that’s another story). If Trump was a knowing participant in the scheme (more on that later), his reasons for doing so would make absolutely no difference. Even if he really, truly believed the election was stolen, it would not be a defense to criminal charges for participating in a fraudulent scheme to submit forged documents as the official results of state presidential elections. To the contrary, his belief that he was stealing back a stolen election would be highly incriminating proof of his motive, not a defense.

Contrast that, for instance, with a potential charge that Trump tried to corruptly alter the result in Georgia in his infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. When Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to flip the Georgia election, was he asking him to legitimately root out and disqualify votes that he honestly believed were fraudulent, or was he asking him to manufacture votes?

Snow Horses, Chen Yong, 2008

The Guardian‘s Peter Stone writes this. “January 6 panel’s body of work boosts DoJ case against Trump, experts say. Former prosecutors say exhaustive report from Capitol attack committee ‘amounts to a detailed prosecution memo.’”

The wealth of evidence against Trump compiled by the panel spurred its unprecedented decision to send the DoJ four criminal referrals for Trump and some top allies about their multi-track planning and false claims of fraud to block Joe Biden from taking office.

Although the referrals do not compel the justice department to file charges against Trump or others, the enormous evidence the panel amassed should boost its investigations, say ex-federal prosecutors.

The massive evidence assembled by the panel was the basis for accusing Trump of obstruction of an act of Congress, inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the US and making false statements

“The central cause of January 6 was one man, former president Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the committee wrote in a detailed summary of its findings a few days before the release of its final 800-plus-page report on Thursday.

The panel’s blockbuster report concluded that Trump criminally plotted to nullify his defeat in 2020 and “provoked his supporters to violence” at the Capitol with baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.

Former prosecutors say the committee’s detailed factual presentation should boost some overlapping inquiries by DoJ including a months-long investigation into a fake electors scheme that Trump helped spearhead in tandem with John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who was also referred to the justice department for prosecution.

“The January 6 committee’s final hearing and lengthy executive summary make out a powerful case to support its criminal referrals as to Trump, Eastman, and unnamed others,” former DoJ inspector general Michael Bromwich told the Guardian.

“Although the referrals carry no legal weight, they provide an unusual preview of potential charges that may well be effective in swaying public opinion,” Bromwich said.

There are more interviews with former prosecutors at the link.

I’m off to do some dishes and other exciting stuff.  Hopefully, the New Year that starts next Sunday will bring tidings of comfort and joy to us and many subpoenas to these law-breaking Republicans.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? How about an animated Frank Sintra singing Jingle Bells?


or Some Keb’ Mo’?


Frantic Friday Reads: Political Chaos Edition

warrior snail
Pontifical of Guillaume Durand, Avignon, before 1390

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I just replaced my TV in the season of political infighting and maudlin Crassmas shows. At least I don’t have to fight any Black Friday Crowds in actual stores. I’m not sure I’d survive that.  Even Medieval Warrior Snails have more guts to face an oncoming crowd than me.  My nice Amazon delivery guy is coming with it sometime next week within a 6-day window, even with Prime.  I bumped into the busy season but was waiting for my check from Hollywood South for enduring a few weekends of having my block shut down for that AMC series shoot. I bet a Warrior Snail could deliver it faster.

You know that Senator John Kennedy is known for saying some pretty outrageous things.  He appears to be gearing up to run for governor despite his runaway reelection in the midterms.  He always makes these weird references to pop culture, which always goes awry. I don’t think he cares he’s the butt of many memes. Try this one reported by Politico.

It’s not every day that a senator quotes a famous mob movie to describe the state of his political party after a week of infighting.

“You’ve gotta have a war every five or 10 years to get rid of the bad blood,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said, paraphrasing a line from “The Godfather” to paint a picture of Senate Republicans. “And then you start over.”

Tension built within the Senate GOP for nearly two years, from former President Donald Trump’s post-insurrection impeachment through a host of bipartisan Biden-era deals that many Republicans opposed. And after the party’s midterm election losses, those cracks turned into a chasm.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) mounted a challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that embodied the conservative griping about the Kentuckian’s leadership style. As GOP senators spent roughly 10 hours in private meetings this week that at times grew highly contentious, the conference cleaved over a same-sex marriage bill that most of them opposed.

When McConnell defeated Scott, 37-10 (a tally that some Republican senators still won’t talk about) the intraparty whispers and rumors of opposition to the tight-gripped leader finally got quantified on paper. The GOP now hopes that its factions — or warring families, as Mario Puzo would put it — are at peace.

That McConnell faced his first contested leadership race in nearly 16 years atop the conference marked a turning point in the GOP. He’s held the post longer than anyone else in his party, and soon enough will break the Senate’s overall record. Despite that rarefied air, it’s clear that he was pushing for every single vote he could lock in

A snail-cat, depicted in the Maastricht Hours – an illuminated devotional manuscript produced in the Netherlands during the early 1300s

I’m not sure he realizes that calling the Republican party something akin to Mafiosi is strangely true and probably not a label they want. It does appear that both the Senate and House contingents have a lot of group infighting.  They’re doing some strange things for a party that’s always seen its role as the top ass kisser for American Business. This is also from Politico under the headline: “GOP plans to punish ‘woke’ Wall Street. GOP lawmakers are singling out major asset managers as likely targets because of climate investing practices they see as hostile to oil, gas and coal.”  I will use Digby’s take on it since it came with popcorn.

This should be super fun to watch:

Wall Street loves Republican tax cuts and deregulation. It’s going to hate the GOP’s plans for 2023.

Republican lawmakers, who will be in the House majority come January, are pressing party leaders to send a message to big financial firms: Stop appeasing the left with “woke” business practices, keep financing fossil fuels and cut ties with China. Republicans will have committee gavels and subpoena powers to back that up.

GOP lawmakers are singling out major asset managers and their Washington trade groups as targets because of climate investing practices they see as hostile to oil, gas and coal. Some Republicans want to continue hauling in big bank CEOs to publicly testify — a tradition established by liberal Democrats. GOP senators are already demanding that law firms preserve documents related to how they advise clients on environmental and social initiatives, signaling a potential investigation. Wall Street firms and Washington lobbyists are preparing for subpoenas.

Caught in the middle are Republican committee leaders who are facing pressure from their rank-and-file to adopt a populist tact toward big business.

“My members are intent on sending a message that you can’t kowtow to a far-left agenda and still have Republicans fighting the good fight on behalf of free markets and a marketplace that would benefit these companies,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who is poised to chair the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview. “This is a complicated factor for sure.”

Uhm yeah. It’s a complicated factor for sure. Free markets as long as you do what we tell you may not be a big winner with the Big Money Boyz.

Knight v Snail II: Battle in the Margins (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 193v

Well, DeSantis certainly showed Disney (not!), so this can only signal that some of the troops are already taking on the DeSantis mantel.  However, it still reminds me of the Smithsonian’s age-old question, “Why Were Medieval Knights Always Fighting Snails?” 

I will mention that Josh Hawley has taken to ranting on the Washington Post OpEd page today about Republicans being out of touch with Working Americans.  I’m not going to bother with that, but here’s another headline with a twist. “Ron DeSantis has reached a perilous point: Inevitability. Can you recall another politician who seemed like an Inevitable Candidate for their party and time? Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Gary Hart, Thomas Dewey, Robert A. Taft …”

“If the Florida governor ever intends to wrest control of the GOP from Trump, now is his moment,” read the headline on an Atlantic article by David Frum last week.

If he runs “he will be a formidable candidate,” Jeb Bush told Neil Cavuto in October.

Jeb Bush was also an Inevitable. Hillary Clinton was an Inevitable (twice!). Neither’s inevitability yielded the presidency. That’s the tricky thing about being an Inevitable.

“What voters will be looking for a year from now, or two years, is very unpredictable,” says Alex Conant, who was communications director for the presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio (once an Inevitable) and Tim Pawlenty (never an Inevitable). “So that candidate who looks perfect for the current moment might not be what they want later. Jeb and Trump are the perfect examples.”

Knight v Snail III: Extreme Jousting (from Brunetto Latini’s Li Livres dou Tresor, France (Picardy), c. 1315-1325, Yates Thompson MS 19, f. 65r)

And yet, the Insurrection is not disappearing from the news even as low-energy Donald announced his 3rd bid for the Presidency. This is from Kyle Cheney at Politico, “‘Do not become numb’: Prosecutors close seditious conspiracy case against Oath Keepers. After a grinding eight-week trial, prosecutors pleaded with jurors to consider the weight of leader Stewart Rhodes’ words in the lead-up to Jan. 6.”

“These defendants repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the United States government and they followed those words with action,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said in her closing statements. “Please do not become numb to these statements. Think about what is actually being called for in these statements.”

To prosecutors, the case is clear: Rhodes was the “architect” of a plan to overthrow the government by force unless Trump took direct action to seize a second term he didn’t win. As Jan. 6 approached, Rhodes grew increasingly frustrated at Trump’s inaction and assembled a team — including co-defendants Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson of Florida, Jessica Watkins of Ohio and Thomas Caldwell of Virginia. They coordinated to amass an arsenal of heavy weapons at a Comfort Inn in nearby Arlington, Va., and developed land and water routes to ferry them to Oath Keepers if violence erupted.

Two dozen Oath Keepers entered the Capitol after other rioters breached it and migrated toward the House and Senate chambers before they were repelled by police. Later, they met Rhodes outside the Capitol. Prosecutors say the group celebrated their actions and prepared to continue their efforts to oppose the government even after authorities regained control of the Capitol.

After closing arguments Friday, jurors will begin deliberating on the most significant charge — seditious conspiracy — as well as a slew of other charges lodged against the Oath Keeper leaders, including obstruction of an official proceeding and destruction of property at the Capitol.

The January 6th Committee is also working on finishing up before Republicans take a very weak hold on the House.  NBC News reports that “Jan. 6 committee interviews former Trump Secret Service agent Bobby Engel. Engel, the lead Secret Service agent for Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, could provide information former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony.”  Representative Zoe Lofgren was on Nicole Wallace yesterday but didn’t provide any conclusions reached if any.

The House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday interviewed Bobby Engel, who was the lead Secret Service agent for then-President Donald Trump when the insurrection took place, three sources familiar with the session said.

Engel could provide key testimony related to information shared by Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She delivered bombshell testimony before the committee at a public hearing this summer.

Hutchinson testified that she was told Trump tried to grab the steering wheel in an armored SUV and lunged toward his security detail when he learned he would not be taken to the Capitol after his rally on Jan. 6.

Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, the White House deputy chief of staff for operations, told her about the incident. She also said Engel had not disputed Ornato’s account. Ornato and Engel both testified before the committee before Hutchinson.

Detail from The Gorleston Psalter

Now, to the goods news on the other side of the aisle.  From the Washington Post, “Rep. Lauren Boebert race too close to call, with margin inside recount threshold. ”  This will likely require very buttery popcorn too.  And from CNN, “Democrat Katie Porter will win reelection in California, CNN projects .  Whew, that’s a relief.

And as one historically significant and powerful Leader of the House retires, another one will become the Minority Leader, in line for the big position.  This is reported by NBC News, “Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announces bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader. If elected, Jeffries, 52, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus. Reps. Katherine Clark, 59, and Pete Aguilar, 43, are seeking to join Jeffries in Democrats’ top three.”

 New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, said Friday that he will run to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the party’s leader after Republicans took back control of the chamber in last week’s midterm elections.

His announcement in a letter to colleagues came a day after Pelosi said in a powerful floor speech that she is stepping down after a two-decade reign as the top leader of House Democrats.

If Jeffries is successful, it would represent a historic passing of the torch: Pelosi made history as the first female speaker of the House, while Jeffries, the current Democratic Caucus chairman, would become the first Black leader of a congressional caucus and highest-ranking Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill. If Democrats were to retake control of the House — a real possibility with Republicans having such a narrow majority — Jeffries would be in line to be the first Black speaker in the nation’s history.

The ascension of the 52-year-old Jeffries to minority leader would also represent generational change. Pelosi and her top two deputies — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. — are all in their 80s and are receiving from within the party for “new blood” in leadership; Hoyer will not seek another leadership post while Clyburn plans to stay on and work with the next generation.

Reps. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., are seeking to round out the new leadership team, announcing Friday that they will run for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in leadership. Clark, 59, announced a bid for Democratic Whip, while Aguilar, 43, is running for Democratic Caucus Chair.

It does make me wonder who the Republicans will demonize once Leader Pelosi steps down. However, I’m enjoying those praising her, a lot. This is from Time Magazine and a likely precursor to her becoming Time’s Person of the Year. Won’t that just send the head Mafiosa into an orange rage burble that no one will care about? “Nancy Pelosi Reflects On the Not-Quite-End of An Era.” 

For two decades, it has been in every congressional Democrat’s interest to stay in Pelosi’s good graces. Since winning her first leadership position in 2001, she has ruled the House Democratic caucus with an iron fist and a velvet glove, keeping her fractious party in near-lockstep during historically tumultuous times. From the Iraq War to the financial crisis, through health-care reform and government shutdowns, through two presidential impeachments, a pandemic and an insurrection attempt, she has been a constant force and consummate operator. No national politician of her era can match her combination of legislative prowess, vote-counting savvy, negotiating skill, and fundraising ability.

On Thursday, it was finally time to move on—sort of. Shortly after noon, she gave a brief speech on the House floor, announcing that she would not seek re-election as leader of the House Democrats. It was time, she said, “for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.” Yet she couldn’t bring herself to step away completely: she owed it to her constituents in San Francisco, she said, to stay on as a rank-and-file member of Congress and finish her two-year term. Like the man who fakes his own death and then sneaks into the funeral, she would stick around to see how her people tried to get along without her.

Just after her speech, the 82-year-old House Speaker sat at a white-clothed table in a small, ornate room off the House floor known as the Board of Education, a hidden chamber where former Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn used to hole up and relax. Then-vice president Harry Truman was playing cards with Rayburn here in 1945 when he learned that FDR had died and he would become President. One wall Rayburn had painted with a Texas seal; on two others, Pelosi recently added her own touches: a painting of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a tribute to women’s suffrage.

I was fortunate to meet and hear Speaker Pelosi speak at Tulane University a few years ago. I was invited by my then Congressman Cedric Richmond.  She spoke to a group of young women on how to become the political leaders of the future.  She was funny, gracious, and serious about getting everyone’s voice to the District.  It’s great to go out on the top even though she will be sorely missed.

So, I’ve posted this youtube as one explanation of the Knights vs. Snail Battles. Maybe JJ will chime in with some theories of her own.   Here’s a gory explanation from the Old Testment.

For Digital MedievalistLisa Spangenberg floated another idea. She says that “the armored snail fighting the armored knight is a reminder of the inevitability of death,” a sentiment captured in Psalm 58 of the bible: “Like a snail that melteth away into slime, they shall be taken away; like a dead-born child, they shall not see the sun.”

I kind of like this modern take on it.

“The snail may leave a trail of slime behind him, but a little slime will do a man no harm, while if you dance with dragons, you must expect to burn.”

― George R.R. Martin, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

I view it as a Revenge Tale painted by Nerds.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?