Friday Reads: Scoundrels and Deplorables edition

Rhythm, Joy of Life (1930) – Robert Delaunay

Hi Sky Dancers!

I got through my second vaccine with just another sore arm so I’m pretty thrilled to be done with that! This afternoon I’m doing a zoom meeting wiith Greg Mankiw and other of my colleagues in the Dismal Science Field to talk about the equally dismal subject of the Covid-19 Economy.  I’ll let you know if any one sees any sunshine yet.

There’s a couple of things in the news today where there’s some Clean up in Aisle Trumpist Regime Corruption and Crimes going on today.  This first one is something that slipped my mind. Marcy Wheeler (aka EmptyWheel) is on it though.  Remember that banker that tried to bribe Manafort to get him a position in the Trumpist Regime?  The SDNY has him in their sites.

It will be interesting to see what role–if any–a freed and pardoned Manafort will have and if the fifth or the pardon have any impact.  We figured there would be Trump appointees storming the Capitol with the other insurrectionists and it seems they’ve caught a fish.  This is from WAPO: “State Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, beat police with a riot shield, FBI says”.  Sounds like one of many nice people on both sides kinda guys.

On Thursday, the FBI arrested a political appointee of President Donald Trump on charges that he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint, marking the first member of the former administration arrested in connection with the insurrection.

Federal agents arrested Federico Guillermo Klein, 42, a former State Department aide, on multiple felony charges related to the Capitol riot, according to a criminal complaint published by the New York Times. (Politico first reported the arrest.) The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.

Klein, who is also a former Trump campaign employee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. It is unclear if he has hired a lawyer.

Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6 when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.

At one point, Klein was caught on video shouting for more insurrectionists to come to the front lines, where officers were struggling to hold back the mob.

“We need fresh people, need fresh people,” he said, according to the complaint.

Zebra (1937) – Victor Vasarely

You should  go to the article just to see his picture in his tweedy jacket and MAGA hat.  He looks like some one’s long lost accountant.  Funny how the dull boring white guy types tend to be the angriest of the Trumpers!. But, there he is out beating up police officers and stirring up insurrection.  I imagine he’ll likely spend his time in the Prison Library if he’s smart or he’ll get the usual white supremacist tatoo and hook up with the rest of them and do their taxes in his spare time.

Oh, btw, I’m sharing 10 MOST FAMOUS ABSTRACT ARTISTS AND THEIR MASTERPIECES for today.  Abstract Art is so much better than abstract conspiracy theories.   The internacine back and forth in the Republican party has a new page as Trump v Rove is the newest Argle bargle from Maro Laga.  This is from Reuters and Steve Holland: ” Civil War: Trump attacks Republican strategist Rove, who fires back.”  Talk about to Skunks in a pissing contest!

Former President Donald Trump intensified his war with the Republican establishment on Thursday by attacking Karl Rove, a longtime Republican strategist who criticized Trump’s first speech since leaving office for being long on grievances but short on vision.

Rove wrote of the 90-minute speech: “There was no forward-looking agenda, simply a recitation of his greatest hits. People like fresh material. Repetition is useful to a point, but it grows stale.”

The spat was the latest round in the civil war that has erupted within the Republican Party, with establishment figures such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eager to put Trump in the rearview mirror, and others, like Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, believing the party’s future depends on the energy of the pro-Trump base.

Black Iris III (1926) – Georgia O’Keeffe

These baby men need naps. Now, let’s talk about Paul Gosar who is a completely different kind of animal.  This is from HuffPo and the keyboard of Christoper Mathias: “Paul Gosar Spoke At A White Nationalist Conference. The GOP Doesn’t Care.  The congressman was the keynote speaker at a conference run by a virulent racist and anti-Semite. HuffPost tried to find a Republican lawmaker to rebuke him.”  He’s one of the chief deplorables with no redeeming qualities to be found as far as I’m concerned.

Last week a sitting U.S. congressman delivered a keynote speech at a white nationalist conference in Florida.

“Wow, what a group,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said as he took his place behind a podium emblazoned with the letters “AFPAC” — an acronym for America First Political Action Conference, the second annual gathering of the white nationalist “groyper” movement.

After speaking about “cancel culture,” Big Tech’s supposed censorship of right-wingers, and the need for a big border wall to keep “America First,” Gosar said goodbye to the AFPAC crowd, who’d traveled from across the country to attend the secret gathering inside the Hilton Orlando.

“May God bless you,” Gosar said. “And may God bless the United States of America.”

The crowd — a motley crew of unabashed racists and anti-Semites — broke into a chant of “Gosar! Gosar!” to which the congressman responded with a wave, a smile and what looked like an earnest, heartfelt “Thank you.”

AFPAC’s organizer, white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes, took the stage next, telling the crowd that “white people are done being bullied” and that America needs to protect its “white demographic core.”

The next day, Fuentes and Gosar sat down for coffee, according to a photo Fuentes posted to Twitter.

“Great meeting today with Congressman Gosar,” tweeted Fuentes, a 22-year-old Holocaust denier who once compared Jews killed in Nazi gas chambers to cookies baking in an oven. “America is truly uncancelled.”

Okay. That’s not deplorable or even despicable.  It’s evil.  We’re about to see how low they can go as the debate on the Covid 19 relief bill is happening on the Senate floor after yesterday’s public reading forced by Senator Johnson (asshole, Wisconsin).

Composition VII (1913) – Wassily Kandinsky

Well, that about sums it up.  Politico reports that “Dems strike new unemployment benefits deal in $1.9T Covid bill. This legislative endurance run is part of the budget reconciliation process, which Democrats are using to pass Biden’s plan without the need for GOP support.” This puts Vice President Harris front and center in the process.

Senate Democrats struck a new deal on the unemployment benefits in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, shortly before debate on the bill reached its peak.

A new amendment readied by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) would change the aid bill’s boosted weekly federal unemployment payments from $400 weekly, as approved by the House, to $300. But the Senate’s deal would extend benefits through September instead of August, and the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will now be non-taxable income. The agreement was hatched by both moderate and progressive Democrats.

Woman I (1952) – Willem de Kooning

So, that’s going on today and CSpan has it all as usual. “Senate Debates Minimum Wage Amendment to $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill. “

Okay, so the good news is that the QAnon cult did not manifest much of anything yesterday.  This is from Newsweek “QAnon’s March 4 Failure Prompts Wave of Trump Inauguration Jokes, Memes.”

QAnon conspiracists believed Trump would return to the White House on Thursday because it was the original date of the presidential inaugurations, before it switched to January 20 when the 20th amendment was passed in 1933.

Federal agencies, like the U.S. Capitol Police and the Department of Homeland Security, prepared for possible violence, following the Capitol riots in early January that involved QAnon supporters, among others, storming the seat of government.

After March 4 passed without violence, Twitter users mocked the QAnon theorists on Twitter, sharing jokes and memes about the inauguration that never happened.

So, today I have no gratuitious Ted Cruz bashing so maybe we can return more to normal!

Mask Up!  Be Safe!  Get that Vaccine!  Let us know you’re okay!  We care!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday AM: Justice for Marco McMillian


Posted to Marco McMillian’s facebook page: “As we work for justice in the murder of Marco W McMillian we held a press conference in Clarksdale, MS on Thursday May 9, 2013. Please goggle Marco McMillian to get full details. Pictured from (L to R) Atty. Daryl Parks of Parks and Crump law firm, Marco’s mother, Patricia Unger and Sharon Hicks of the National Justice Collation”

Hey all, Mona here…I have missed you all dearly, my Sky Dancing newsjunkies! Had some life-things keeping me out of the regular loop. Funerals and graduations…endings and new beginnings. That kind of thing. And, lots and lots of soul-searching. But, I guess you could say I’m “back” now. For better or worse 😉 I’m going to just dive right in and get my feet wet in the blogging pond…I’ll be using the frontpage this morning to spotlight a topic I wish was getting more attention from the national media. Not to worry, though–JJ will have your Wednesday news round-up fix later in the day! So be sure to check back in for that.

So, how many of you have been following the Marco McMillian story? I know Bostonboomer had mentioned it before back when McMillian was discovered dead in February. Well, the family is now demanding answers. Via the NYT:

Mother’s Letter to Sheriff

Frustrated by the pace of the investigation into the death, Marco McMillian’s mother, Patricia Unger, wrote to investigators regarding unanswered questions in her son’s case.

Click over to see the PDF for yourself. Key excerpt:

It has been over two months since my son, Marco Watson McMillian, was found murdered on February 26, 2013. Within this time frame, my husband and I have only received two visits/correspondences from you. The visit took place on February 26, 2013. During this visit, you informed us that Marco’s SUV had been involved in an accident and that someone else was driving the SUV. You also stated that Marco was not in the vehicle and that you were trying to locate him. The second visit took place on February 27, 2013, during this visit you informed us that his body had been found.

Last month, my husband, Amos Unger, contacted you via phone inquiring about the investigation. You informed him that the investigation was still ongoing and that you could not release any information about the investigation because you were trying to conduct it in a professional manner. You stated that you did not want any leaks to take place due to the family making statements to the press/media. However, I do not feel like the investigation has been done with professionalism. Listed below are unanswered questions/reasons why I feel like this investigation has not been conducted in an ethical manner:

Patricia Unger goes on to list some pretty appalling ethical and professional breaches, such as:

  • The only identification of the body sought by the police from the family was through a cell phone picture.
  • The family has yet to be introduced to any actual FBI agents investigating the case.

The final point of concern she raises, in her own words:

It has been reported in the press/’ media that you have a suspect in custody, Lawrence Reed. It has also been reported that family members and/or friends have stated that Mr. Reed informed them that he killed Marco in a “gay rape panic”. in this case, suspect and motive have been determined, so why is there still an ongoing investigation? Have other facts/factors been discovered that warrant further investigation? Also, it has been reported that Mr. Reed confessed to killing Marco by strangling him with his wallet chain. in that case, strangulation was the cause of death, so why is it taking so long for me to receive the death certificate? 1 know that this is a matter for the State Medical Examiner, but i would like to know if another cause of death has been or is being taken into consideration.

Pardon my Fraaaaanch, but what the fraggle rock kind of investigation is this? If Patricia Unger’s charges are true , the investigation into her son’s murder makes Mark Fuhrman’s antics in the OJ case look like a paragon of ethics. (Ok, so I’m hyperbolizing, but you get the point.)

The family held a press conference last Thursday. The family’s lawyer, Attorney Daryl Parks, is from the firm that represented Trayvon Martin’s family.

The virtual silence in the national mediaseems deafening to me. Other than local news coverage, the link above from LGBTQNation website (of the standard press release type reporting from the AP), and the NYT link above to the actual letter by McMillian’s mother, I have seen scarce coverage of this story. I don’t have any cable or digital converter, thus I don’t have a constant 24/7 IV-drip of cable news…so maybe I’ve missed whatever blip about the family’s questions and press conference may have been buried on the network formerly known as CNN’s Headline News. Anecdotally, I asked my daily newspaper reading/cable newsjunkie mother if she had heard anything about it, and shockingly…though unsurprisingly…my bringing it up was the first she had heard of it.


I’ve had to go on McMillian’s FB pages (both as mayoral candidate and himself personally) looking for answers. As a case in point, I found the NYT link to his mother’s letter through his personal page.

Marco’s future in politics was bright. To the right you can see him with President Obama and Representative John Lewis, as well as with President Bill Clinton. That he was the first “viable” openly gay black candidate for political office in Mississippi is both incidental and monumental at the same time.

It makes me worry–however fear-driven that may be–for this guy I posted about ever so briefly on my baby blog, LetThemListen, last month:

Precisely, senator.senator

Alright, well I’ve said my piece. I’d love to hear your thoughts or anything else on your mind/reading list this morning. Take care and remember to stay tuned for JJ’s Wednesday Roundup later today.

Dysfunctional Justice System Delivers some Justice

Hurricane Gustav rolls in

On August 30, 2008 I was sitting in a bar in the ninth ward of New Orleans waiting for Hurricane Gustav.  It was unbelievably hot in my house. For some reason, Entergy couldn’t keep my electricity on but across the street at BJ’s bar, there was cool air and sweet relief.  I was working on a paper and drinking beer off and on all day.  I was back and forth depending on how much I could charge the laptop battery and cool myself down.

Later in the evening, a group of policemen entered the bar including one local guy that had a reputation for a mean temper when drunk and using the n word profusely. He had a group of rookies tagging along with him.  We felt fairly safe back then because the National Guard was almost always first on crime scenes at that point in time and it kept the NOPD in check when they were watched by something other than citizens.  Middle aged, white but with that ruddy red hue in the face indicating too much alcohol in the system, this guy has a substantial beer gut and one hell of a chip on his shoulder.  He’s a case study in anger.  He was always looking to prove something.

This officer later waved his badge from a lawn chair planted in the street to a patrolling National Guard Unit. Move on, move on! Nothing to see here!  Believe me, the guy has a reputation around the neighborhood and I found out why shortly after as he rolled a local prostitutes for freebie blow jobs on the back of a black and white for all the rookies.  She was a middle-aged, nice looking dirty blonde with a drug habit. I’d talked to her on many occasions. She mostly services the lonely old losers in the neighborhood.  I had heard she was forced to service the officer, but had never seen evidence of it until that night.   I left in disgust before the show really got on the road.  This is the guy that later let a drug felon beat me up because I had the audacity to tell the felon that his girlfriend had been sleeping with the cop both before and after he was in the federal penitentiary. You remember, that’s the cop that had me arrested for fighting. Little old me with a broken rib in my back from being kicked while under a table. Yup, ask me.  I believe that a good portion of the NOPD only exists to protect and serve its own.

It’s no secret that I don’t believe a word that any NOPD officer says given my experience with them two years ago. I said as much to a judge, two prosecutors and a public defender when I was called to jury duty 18 months ago.  The Danziger Bridge shootings have nationally exposed the underbelly of the NOPD with its blue line fraternity boys culture often caught up in corruption.  Will this actually lead to any change?  I don’t know.  I’m just glad a few people got a sense of justice, even though it’s hard bought with the deaths of two innocent people including one man that was mentally disabled.

A federal jury on Friday convicted five current or former police officers in the deadly shootings on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

All five officers were convicted of charges stemming from the cover-up of the shootings. The four who had been charged with civil rights violations in the shootings were convicted on all counts.

However, the jury didn’t find that Brisette or Faulcon’s shootings amounted to murder.

Prosecutors contended during the five-week federal trial that officers shot unarmed people without justification and without warning, killing two and wounding four others on Sept. 4, 2005, then embarked on a cover-up involving made-up witnesses, falsified reports and a planted gun.

Defense attorneys countered that the officers were returning fire and reasonably believed their lives were in danger as they rushed to respond to another officer’s distress call less than a week after Katrina struck.

Again, the family of the shooting victims may never find peace despite the overwhelming verdict of guilty on most counts for the five officers. Ronald Madison was the 40 year old victim with diminished mental capacity that was shot in the back and unarmed.

The family of victim Ronald Madison greeted the verdict with solemn appreciation, thanking law enforcement and the media for keeping the story in the limelight.

“We will never be completely healed, because we will never have Ronald Madison back,” said Madison’s brother Lance, who was with him on the bridge and who was initially arrested after the shooting.

“They took the twinkle out of my eye and the song out of my heart,” said a visibly shaken Sherell Johnson, the mother of James Brissette, the young man shot and killed in a hail of gunfire on the bridge.

The verdicts begin to close one of the darkest sagas that came to light in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The five current and former New Orleans police officers were accused of wrongfully shooting six unarmed civilians, two fatally, on the Danziger Bridge several days after the storm blew through New Orleans and then staging an elaborate cover-up to justify the shootings.

In a 25-count indictment, the men in question – Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, Villavaso and Kaufman – were accused of turning on those citizens they had sworn to protect, especially in their most vulnerable hour when the city’s levees ruptured, flooding and crippling a majority of New Orleans as it descended into chaos. They faced a slew of charges, ranging from civil rights violations to murder charges to using a firearm in the commission of a crime to misleading investigators.

Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon, Villavaso were accused of shooting the unarmed men and women, while Kaufman was accused of masterminding the cover-up, including the planting of a gun on the bridge and writing a bogus police report that would include phony witnesses.

The NOPD has never had a stellar record as an efficient police department.  I’ve spent my 16 years here reading about bad cop after bad cop.  It’s obviously a systemic problem.  I’ll never forget the look on those rookies faces on their initiation night. I’ll never forget the way that a badge can wave off people that may actually be there to help.  I’ve seen that happen twice now.  I’ll never forget the carnival scene that also happened when a friend of mine was killed when a woman driving her boyfriend’s wife’s truck slammed him into a cast iron gate. He’s never gotten his justice to this date. The cops spent most of the time standing around with ice cream cones in their hands. They had blocked off all traffic but let the ice cream truck through to park and do business.  Children on bikes were allowed to buzz my friend’s lifeless body.  That’s another story too and there’s more.  I’ve only been here 16 years and I’ve got plenty of them.  Just imagine what a NOLA lifer can come up with. There’s a lot to love about this city.  Best food, music, and people in the world. The NOPD is not one of the reasons.

How do We Proceed from Here?

This has been bugging me all week, so I decided to post it here for discussion.

Last week this story appeared in the news.

It’s about a 21 year old woman who was due to testify at the trial of her accused molester/rapist. The man was her mother’s boyfriend, and abused the woman when she was young. The man is accused of abusing other young women. His trial is currently taking place in Seattle. This is unfortunately pretty standard fare for our society.

But, the kicker is the man is acting as his own defense. Now, our Constitution guarantees the right of the accused to face their accusers. And it allows the accused to act as their own defense.

But what kind of torture is it for our legal system force a young woman to answer the questions of her rapist about her rape? Is this not revictimizing her, but this time on society’s behalf?

So what’s the answer? The accused has rights. But so does the victim/accuser. I myself tend towards a supervised interview with the victim in one room, the accused in the other and the judge and a lawyer for the victim (or the prosecutor if applicable) acting as intermediaries. But even so, even so, I can not imagine having to be led back through the abuse by the abuser. How sick and sadistic is that?

By the way, the article mentions a victim who did face her abuser in court while he acted as his own defense. I admire her ovaries, they must be the size of softballs.