Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

St.Gertrude herself and cats Zarathustra and David Bowie captured in stained glass

St.Gertrude herself and cats Zarathustra and David Bowie captured in stained glass

It’s been a long time since I posted Fat Cat Art by Svetlana Petrova & Zarathustra the Cat / FatCatArt.com. Dakinikat posted a comment on Thursday about St. Gertrude, the patron saint of cats, whose feast day is the same as St. Patrick’s day. I was looking for paintings of her when I came across this one at the Fat Cat Art site. The other images in this post are also by Petrova and her late beloved ginger cat Zarathustra.

The Ukraine war rages on, as Putin continues to commit ghastly war crimes by attacking civilians. Reading about what’s happening, let alone watching the images on TV is horrifying. It’s a terribly helpless feeling, and there’s a temptation to want the U.S. to get more actively involved, but that is simply impossible.

Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell gave a powerful explanation of what the U.S. trying to enforce a no fly zone over Ukraine would mean. You can watch it on The Last Word website. It lasts about 7 minutes. Basically, O’Donnell said that the very idea is a fantasy and that a no fly zone has never been enforced against a nuclear power. It would mean U.S. and Russian pilots being shot down and killed and would also involve U.S. planes flying over Russian territory. I recommend watching it if you didn’t see it last night.

For the latest news on Ukraine, I recommend The Guardian’s summary of the latest updates: Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 24 of the invasion.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the time has come for peace talks, warning that it will otherwise take generations for Russia to recover from losses suffered during the war. He released a video address saying Ukraine wanted meaningful and honest negotiations with Moscow on peace and security without delay, Reuters reported. “The time has come for a meeting – it is time to talk.” Zelenskiy said Russian forces were deliberately blocking humanitarian supplies to cities under attack.
  • Ukraine’s position is unchanged in talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said. Earlier today, a member of Russia’s negotiating team said Moscow and Kyiv were most aligned on Ukraine’s neutrality and giving up on joining Nato. Podolyak accused Russian statements of attempting “to provoke tension in the media”.
  • Russia says it has used a hypersonic weapon for the first time, to destroy an underground military depot in western Ukraine. Hypersonic missiles are fast weapons that can evade detection by missile defence systems. The defence ministry said it had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.
  • Ukraine’s interior minster told Associated Press it would take years to find and defuse all of the unexploded ordnance from the country. Denys Monastyrsky said: “A huge number of shells and mines have been fired at Ukraine and a large part haven’t exploded. They remain under the rubble and pose a real threat. It will take years, not months, to defuse them.”
  • Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, praised Fox News for its coverage of the war in Ukraine during an in-studio interview with the Russian state-controlled RT network. “We know the manners and the tricks that are being used by the western countries to manipulate media … If you take the United States, only Fox News is trying to present some alternative point of view,” he said.

Click the link for more updates.

Boris Kustodiev. Merchant’s Wife at Cat’s Tea

Boris Kustodiev. Merchant’s Wife at Cat’s Tea

In other news, Republicans are of course trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson and it is sickening.

Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post: Opinion: How low will the GOP go in taking on Ketanji Brown Jackson? Josh Hawley lets us know.

“I’ve noticed an alarming pattern when it comes to Judge Jackson’s treatment of sex offenders, especially those preying on children,” Hawley tweeted. “I’m concerned that this [is] a record that endangers our children.” [….]

In the cherry-picked, context-free Hawley-verse, Jackson has been lying in wait to foist this child-endangerment scheme on the country since her law school days. Count one is her writing as a student editor on the Harvard Law Review, about sex-offender registries, DNA databanks and civil-commitment laws that states were busy enacting.

In her article, Jackson grappled with the tension between constitutional limits on permissible punishment and the community’s need for self-protection. Given conservatives’ focus on analyzing the text of a law rather than divining lawmakers’ intent, you might have thought that Hawley would cheer Jackson’s argument that in assessing the constitutionality of sex offender laws, “courts have relied too heavily on the legislatures’ intent.” But no.

Instead, Hawley wrenches a few lines out of context. “As far back as her time in law school, Judge Jackson has questioned making convicts register as sex offenders — saying it leads to ‘stigmatization and ostracism.’ ”

Hello, Senator? That is in a section headlined “The Critics” that outlines the views of the statute’s opponents. Hawley might just have easily quoted from the previous section — “commitment legislation literally immobilizes dangerous sexual deviants and, thus, presumably promotes both immediate and long-term public safety.”

And that’s just from Jackson’s law school days. Hawley also attacks Jackson for supporting a review of minimum sentencing guidelines for child porn along with every other member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Finally he criticizes her work as a judge:

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, true version, aka The Furry Night

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, true version, aka The Furry Night

The final count against Jackson involves how she, in Hawley’s assessment, “put her troubling views into action. In every single child porn case for which we can find records, Judge Jackson deviated from the federal sentencing guidelines in favor of child porn offenders.”

Sounds terrible, right? Except because the guidelines are so outdated and therefore unfair, that’s what judges do in almost every case — 70 percent, according to the latest statistics.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, judges imposed below-guidelines sentences in nearly 80 percoent of child pornography cases in the District of Columbia, where Jackson was a trial court judge before being elevated to the appeals court. In Missouri, Hawley’s home state, judges imposed sentences below the guidelines in more than 77 percent of cases.

For more background on Jackson’s record on these issues, you can read this article by Tierney Sneed at CNN: GOP senators push misleading portrayal of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s record on child porn cases.

After Hawley posted a Twitter thread enumerating his false accusations, right wing “news” outlet OAN took the smears even further. Media Matters: Baseless OAN attack on Ketanji Brown Jackson echoes QAnon conspiracy theory.

Following Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) Twitter rant yesterday against Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a segment on OAN took his unfounded and misleading attacks against her record in a more deranged direction. The host and her guest falsely accused Jackson of being “kind” to pedophiles, echoing the long-running QAnon conspiracy theory accusing liberal elites of engaging in pedophilia.

During the March 17 segment on OAN’s Tipping Point, host Kara McKinney outlined the conspiratorial accusations against Jackson before RedState editor Brandon Morse immediately dove into QAnon-like commentary about what he described as “the pedophilia problem that is currently happening in the left”

Here’s what Morse had to say:

Andrew Wyeth, The Cat in Christina’s World

Andrew Wyeth, The Cat in Christina’s World

Morse claimed that the “corporate media” is ignoring this issue because of self-interest:

They have been doing their absolute best to try to eliminate any substantial talk about the pedophilia problem that is currently in the left and especially the radical left. They have been trying to make this almost a normal thing for some time. And if they come down hard on it, then it’ll reinforce the idea to society that pedophilia is a bad thing. And it is a very bad thing. It should be come down on hard. But they’re not.

And I’m afraid that the reason that they’re not doing this is because there’s probably more pedophiles, or at least people who are friendly to pedophiles out there, than we might think in positions of power, especially on the left. You know, you had a ton of people suddenly go into hiding or shut up, you know, once Jeffrey Epstein was back in the spotlight for this. And it’s scary to think that you have a lot of these leftists, these Democrats, politicians, activists, media figures who have been caught, or who have been trying to ease the pain of any of these pedophiles who are to be — who should be suffering for their crimes. You see this a lot, lately.

And it’s scary to think that this new judge that’s come up here is one of these people who is going to be very kind to them. 

It sounds like the upcoming hearings on Jackson’s nomination are going to be an embarrassing clown show.

From the AP, some horrifying news from South Carolina: Firing-squad executions get the greenlight in South Carolina.

South Carolina has given the greenlight to firing-squad executions, a method codified into state law last year after a decade-long pause in carrying out death sentences because of the state’s inability to procure lethal injection drugs.

The state Corrections Department said Friday that renovations have been completed on the death chamber in Columbia and that the agency had notified Attorney General Alan Wilson that it was able to carry out a firing-squad execution.

Lawmakers set about tweaking state law to get around the lethal injection drug situation. Legislation that went into effect in May made the electric chair the state’s primary means of execution while giving inmates the option of choosing death by firing squad or lethal injection, if those methods are available.

During South Carolina’s lengthy debate, Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian — a prosecutor-turned-criminal-defense lawyer — introduced the firing squad option. He argued that it presented “the least painful” execution method available.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer with the Cat

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer with the Cat

“The death penalty is going to stay the law here for a while,” Harpootlian said. “If we’re going to have it, it ought to be humane.”

According to officials, the death chamber now also includes a metal chair, with restraints, in the corner of the room in which inmates will sit if they choose execution by firing squad. That chair faces a wall with a rectangular opening, 15 feet away, through which the three shooters will fire their weapons.

State officials also have created protocols for carrying out the executions. The three shooters, all volunteers who are employees of the Corrections Department, will have rifles loaded with live ammunition, with their weapons trained on the inmate’s heart.

A hood will be placed over the head of the inmate, who will be given the opportunity to make a last statement.

Finally, the House isn’t keen on the Senate’s permanent daylight saving time bill, according to Dan Diamond of The Washington Post: Senate plan for permanent daylight saving time faces doubts in the House.

The House is set to hit the snooze button on the Senate’s plan to permanently change the nation’s clocks.

“It could be weeks — or it could be months” before House Democratic leaders decide whether to tee up a vote on eliminating the biannual clock changes that have governed daily life in most states for decades, said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D.-N.J.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees time change policies. While the Sunshine Protection Act, which unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday, would nationally shift clocks an hour later to maximize daylight, some doctors have argued that adopting permanent standard time would be a healthier option and better align with humans’ natural rhythms.

Pallone, who held a hearing last week on daylight saving time, said he shares the Senate’s goal to end the “spring forward” and “fall back” clock changes linked to more strokes, heart attacks and car accidents. But he wants to collect more information, asking for a long-delayed federal analysis on how time changes might affect productivity, traffic and energy costs, among other issues.

Pablo Picatso, Woman with a Fan and a Cat, having fun

Pablo Picasso, Woman with a Fan and a Cat, having fun

“There isn’t a consensus, in my opinion in the House, or even generally at this point, about whether we should have standard versus daylight saving as the permanent time,” Pallone said. “Immediately after the Senate passed the bill, I had members come up to me on the floor and say, ‘Oh, don’t do that. I want the standard time,’ ” he added, declining to identify the lawmakers.

The White House also has not communicated its position on permanent daylight saving time, congressional aides said. While President Biden, as a freshman senator, voted for that in December 1973 — the last time that Congress attempted to institute the policy nationwide — he also witnessed the near-immediate collapse of support amid widespread reports that darker winter mornings were contributing to more car accidents and worsened moods. Members of Congress introduced nearly 100 pieces of legislation to change or do away with the law before it was finally repealed in October 1974.

A few more stories to check out:

Raw Story: Top Kremlin spy boss reportedly under house arrest over Ukraine debacle: WSJ.

The Washington Post: It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted.

Greg Bluestein at Politico: How Brian Kemp Resisted Trump’s Pressure to Overturn the Georgia Election Results.

The Daily Beast: People’s Convoy Reveals Ridiculous New Goal: ‘Take Back’ Black Lives Matter Plaza.

That’s it for me today. What are you thinking and reading about? Take care Sky Dancers!


Lazy Caturday Reads

lightning_cloud_by_chiakiro_dea7odg-pre

Lightning Cloud, by Chiakiro

Good Afternoon!!

Politico “Playbook” has a good brief summary of where things stand right now with the January 6 Committee investigation: The Jan. 6 committee drama gets serious. (I’ve added a few links to longer articles.)

JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION STEAMROLLS FORWARD — Over the last 24 hours, we’ve seen major developments in the ongoing investigation into the pro-Trump Jan. 6 riots that sought to overthrow democracy in America.

1) Executive privilege waived: “President JOE BIDEN will not invoke executive privilege to shield an initial set of records from DONALD TRUMP’s White House that’s being sought by congressional investigators probing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack,” report Nicholas Wu, Kyle Cheney, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Meridith McGraw.

— What comes next: Trump has 30 days to challenge the decision in court, after which time, the National Archives will release the documents to the Jan. 6 panel. The former president is already asserting privilege over 45 specific documents requested from the committee, and indicated in a letter that he wants to bar the release of additional documents “potentially numbering in the millions.”

2) Committee subpoenas hit deadlines: The first wave of high-profile subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee have been served, and not all of the subjects are cooperating, as Nicholas, Kyle, Betsy and Meridith detail:

  • STEVE BANNON claims that Trump’s invocation of executive privilege means that he doesn’t have to participate. (That strikes legal experts as dubious, seeing as at the time of the 2020 election, Bannon hadn’t worked in the White House for several years.)
  • MARK MEADOWS is “engaging with the Select Committee,” per a statement from the panel.
  • KASH PATEL issued a statement Friday confirming that he “responded to the subpoena in a timely manner” and is engaging with the committee.
  • DAN SCAVINO was officially served with his subpoena on Friday.

— What comes next: In a statement from Jan. 6 Committee Chair BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.), the panel said it “will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.” If they’re serious, a criminal referral would require a full floor vote in the House.More from NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater

— Something to watch:“Congress’ Jan. 6 investigators face an inevitable reckoning with their GOP colleagues,”by Kyle Cheney and Olivia Beavers

Ophelia Redpath, 1965

By Ophelia Redpath, 1965

Also from Politico: Capitol Police whistleblower delivers scathing rebuke to two of its senior leaders on Jan. 6, by Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan.

A former high-ranking Capitol Police official with knowledge of the department’s response to the Jan. 6 attack has sent congressional leaders a scathing letter accusing two of its senior leaders of mishandling intelligence and failing to respond properly during the riot.

The whistleblower, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons and left the force months after the attack, sent the 16-page letter late last month to the top members of both parties in the House and Senate. His missive makes scorching allegations against Sean Gallagher, the Capitol Police’s acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations — who also served as its former acting chief.

The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on Jan. 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day’s riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on Jan. 6.

The whistleblower’s criticism went beyond Capitol Police leaders to Congress. Without naming specific lawmakers, his letter accuses congressional leaders of having “purposefully failed” to tell the truth about the department’s failures.

POLITICO obtained the letter detailing the allegations, which is circulating among Capitol Police officers, and is publishing portions of it here. To protect the whistleblower’s identity, POLITICO is not publishing the letter in full.

Click the Politico link to read the rest.

Evelina Oliveira

By Evelina Oliveira

This morning the Washington Post Editorial Board posted this in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election at a meeting three days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol: Opinion: Without these changes, U.S. democracy will remain vulnerable to Trump and other bad actors.

The Senate report details how Mr. Trump tried persistently to enlist the Justice Department in his scheme to overturn the 2020 election results. His pressure campaign, after Attorney General William P. Barr resigned in December, featured calls and meetings with Mr. Rosen and other top Justice Department staff. It continued as Mr. Trump sent them a preposterous petition he wanted them to file with the Supreme Court asking the justices to void Joe Biden’s victory. It reached its zenith in a cockamamie plot to force Mr. Rosen to pressure state governments to cook the results or be replaced by Jeffrey Clark, a lower-ranking Justice official who would go along with the scheme.

Mr. Trump failed because Mr. Rosen and other officials in key positions refused to cooperate and threatened to resign. But they could not stop Mr. Trump from forcing the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and replacing him with a lawyer the then-president thought would pursue the fraud investigations he wanted to see.

The editors argue:

The seriousness of Mr. Trump’s effort to nullify an election, his continuing lies about the results and the willingness of so many Republicans to indulge those lies call for several responses.

The investigations must continue. The House’s Jan. 6 committee should compel Mr. Clark, who did not cooperate with the Senate Judiciary panel, to testify. The House and the Justice Department must enforce the committee’s subpoenas, which several Trump confidantes appear prepared to flout on the former president’s say-so. The National Archives should turn over documents immediately. If courts are involved, judges must act with urgency….

Most urgently, Congress must reinforce elements of the nation’s democratic infrastructure vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors such as Mr. Trump. It should revamp the ancient Electoral Count Act to limit partisan interference in presidential vote tallying, and it should impose federal election standards that insulate state election officials from political pressure.

The Committee needs to get right to work on enforcing the subpoenas and Steve Bannon should immediately be arrested and jailed. I hope they do something quickly, but I’m not holding my breath.

After he backed down and allowed a vote to avert a U.S. default and a global financial crisis, Mitch McConnell is now threatening to let it happen in December. His excuse is that Chuck Schumer made an
“inappropriate” speech after the vote. Here’s the speech:

Behind Schumer, you can also see Joe Manchin having a hissy fit over the speech. He agrees with his pal McConnell, apparently.

The Guardian: Schumer ‘poisoned well’ over debt limit, McConnell says in insult-laden letter.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sought to fight his way out of a corner on Friday by releasing an angry letter in which he blamed Democrats for the impasse over the debt ceiling he broke by ending a refusal to co-operate he had said was absolute.

In the letter to Joe Biden, McConnell complained about a speech in which the Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, attacked Republicans for their behaviour.

Lamenting Schumer’s lack of civility – which prompted angry scenes in the Senate – McConnell levelled a string of insults at his opposite number.

paradise-cat-hans-ruettimann

Paradise Cat, by Hans Ruettimann

“Last night,” the minority leader wrote, late on Friday, “in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry and corrosive that even Democratic senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him.

“This tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

Suddenly being partisan is a bad thing because a Democrat did it? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Finally, a little comic relief: it appears that the Q-Anon nuts have turned on Michael Flynn. Will Sommer at The Daily Beast: Michael Flynn to QAnon Believers: I’m Not a Satanist!

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been on a relentless media tour since his pardon last year, sitting for interviews with even the most obscure right-wing media outlets to promote the MAGA agenda.

But on Tuesday, Flynn appeared on a little-known YouTube channel called Truth Unveiled TV for a very different reason: rebutting the idea that he led a church congregation in a Satanic ritual borrowed from a nuclear doomsday cult.

In a video entitled “Some Have Said That General Flynn Prayed to Satan in a Recent Prayer,” host Paul Oebel gave Flynn a chance to rebut the growing right-wing controversy alleging he’s signed on with Lucifer.

Steampunk cat lady, by Jeff Haynie

Steampunk cat lady, by Jeff Haynie

“I even saw a show the other day saying ‘Michael’s flipped on the side of the devil,’” Oebel said. “Can you please explain what happened there?”

“All of these people that talk about turning to whatever…” Flynn said. “People need to stop overthinking what everybody is saying.”

The bizarre YouTube interview marked Flynn’s latest attempt in a weeks-long campaign to convince his one-time fans in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement that he isn’t a Satanist.

Prior to the unusual controversy, Flynn had embraced his position as a hero to supporters of QAnon, taking a QAnon oathraising money from QAnon believers, and selling QAnon T-shirts. In May, Flynn even appeared at a QAnon conference and endorsed the idea of a military coup.

But QAnon fame is a fickle thing. After promoting QAnon for more than a year, Flynn now finds himself on the business end of the conspiracy theory. Like QAnon targets before him, Flynn is now struggling to persuade angry QAnon believers that he isn’t a secret Satan-worshipper.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads: Democrats and The Greene Party

Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896|

z;o Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896

Good Afternoon!!

I’ve never been a Joe Biden fan. Early on in the 2020 primaries, I even thought I might refuse to vote for him if he were the Democratic nominee. But as time went on, he grew on me. Now I think he probably is exactly what we needed. He’s a “normal” Democratic politician, he’s extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of the Senate, and he comes across as a decent person. He’s the perfect antidote to Trump’s psychotic behavior, ignorance, and incompetence. And it turns out that most Americans support what Biden is doing as president.

AP: AP-NORC Poll: Americans open to Biden’s approach to crises.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks into a new administration, a majority of Americans say they have at least some confidence in President Joe Biden and his ability to manage the myriad crises facing the nation, including the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, 61% approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Though the bulk of Biden’s support is from fellow Democrats, about a quarter of Republicans say they approve of his early days in office.

Even at a moment of deep national divisions, those numbers suggest Biden, as with most of his recent predecessors, may enjoy something of a honeymoon period. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office, according to Gallup polling. There was one exception: Donald Trump, whose approval rating never surpassed 50% in Gallup polls, even at the start of his presidency.

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

Obviously Biden faces serious challenges, but so far the public as a whole is supportive.

Biden’s standing with the public will quickly face significant tests. He inherited from Trump a pandemic spiraling out of control, a sluggish rollout of crucial vaccinesdeep economic uncertainty and the jarring fallout of the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. It’s a historic confluence of crises that historians have compared to what faced Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War or Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the depths of the Great Depression.

Biden’s advisers know that the new president will be quickly judged by Americans on his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 450,000 people in the U.S. He’s urgently pressing Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion relief package that would include funds for vaccine distribution, school reopening and state and local governments buckling under the strain of the pandemic.

“We have to go big, not small,” Biden told House Democrats on Tuesday. He’s signaled that he’s open to trimming his $1.9 trillion proposal but not as far as some Republicans are hoping. A group of GOP senators has put forward their own $618 billion package.

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

At Axios, Mike Allen explains why Biden’s stimulus plan is probably going to get through Congress one way or another: Biden’s grand plan

President Biden toldRepublican senators he has “an open door and an open mind” on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. But he already has the votes, and overwhelming support in the country.

Why it matters: Well, power matters. And Biden holds all of it.

Get used to this. Democrats are gleeful as they watch the media fixate on family feuds inside the GOP, while Biden pushes out executive orders and pushes through this bill on his terms.

  • Biden embraces the reality that the two numbers that matter most to his presidency are coronavirus cases falling and economic growth rising.

Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president and longtime Biden confidant, was in the Oval this week for meetings with Republican and Democratic senators, and told me that the president “reaffirmed and deepened his explanation and commitment on the numbers and the substance” of the full package.

  • Ricchetti said Biden made it clear that he welcomes “fine-tuning or amendments or recommendations,” but “underscored that he’s committed to his plan and to the elements he outlined” — and to moving quickly.

What we’re watching: Ricchetti said the president wants to have “a bipartisan and unifying dialogue in the country,” including conversations he’s already had with mayors and local elected officials, “so that this isn’t just about a dialogue with senators and members of Congress. It is a dialogue with the country.”

  • Ricchetti said Biden treated a GOP counterproposal “with an open mind and with respect. He was also honest … in underscoring why he proposed what he did — that he was committed to every one of the elements in his package.”

The bottom line: Democrats will dismiss any whining about Biden’s stimulus as D.C. noise or Republican hypocrisy. They’ll be right on both fronts.

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

Meanwhile, Republicans are mired in a conflict over Q Anon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Gree Kevin McCarthy has to be the most pathetic GOP leader ever–even worse than Paul Ryan or John Boehner. Yesterday, Republicans met to discuss the futures of Greene, a complete crackpot, and Liz Cheney, a relatively normal mainstream Republican who had the guts to vote for Trump’s impeachment. Both women have survived so far. 

CBS News: Liz Cheney survives vote to remove her from GOP leadership.

House Republicans voted by a large margin Wednesday to allow Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney to stay on as the GOP conference chairwoman following an hours-long meeting where members aired their grievances over her vote to impeach former President Trump last month. Just 61 Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her post, while 145 voted for her to stay in a vote by secret ballot.

The vote came after Cheney told her Republican colleagues she would not apologize for her decision, according to a source familiar with the meeting. She later praised the result as a “terrific vote.” 

“We’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” she said after the meeting. “It was very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together and then we need to go forward in a way that helps us beat back the really dangerous and negative Democrat policies.” 

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Greene’s situation is still somewhat up in the air, but she got a standing ovation after apologizing the her colleagues in a private meeting. From The New York Times: The G.O.P. Walks a Tightrope.

  • The extremist wing of the Republican Party has lived to fight another day. But G.O.P. leaders are in knots trying to prove that the party’s factions can all live in harmony.

  • Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, refused to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee appointments yesterday, instead issuing a long statement that condemned her history of making extreme and violent statements but also threw a jab back at Democrats, accusing them of a “partisan power grab.”

  • But at a closed-door meeting yesterday, the party’s House delegation also voted overwhelmingly to keep Representative Liz Cheney — an anti-Trump, establishment figure who has drawn fire from the party’s right wing — in her spot as the No. 3 Republican in the chamber.

  • At the meeting, many House Republicans expressed dismay with Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump and her condemnation of his role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus accused Cheney of “aiding the enemy” when she joined just nine other Republicans in voting to impeach Trump, according to people familiar with the discussion. But ultimately she held on to her leadership role easily.

  • McCarthy’s unwillingness to strip Greene of her appointments, as Democrats and many Republicans have called on him to do, indicates that the G.O.P. plans to address the division in its ranks through messaging more than disciplinary action, at least for now.

  • In his statement, McCarthy used strong and direct language to reject the conspiracy-minded views promulgated by Greene, but he effectively defended her right to have held them.

  • “Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” McCarthy said. “I condemn those comments unequivocally.”

  • He said that he had met with her privately and explained “that as a member of Congress,” she would be held “to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen.”

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

At Axios, Margaret Talev reports: Exclusive poll: Republicans favor Greene over Cheney.

Conspiracist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is far more popular than Rep. Liz Cheney among Americans who align with the Republican Party, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: As the House GOP caucus is being torn over calls to yank Cheney from congressional leadership for backing Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and strip Greene from committee assignments for her baseless conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, these findings show how strongly Trumpism continues to define most Republicans.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is much more popular with Republicans than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the survey finds.

By the numbers: McCarthy enjoys the highest favorable versus unfavorable ratings (net favorability) of the four among Republicans, at 38%-16% (+22); followed by Greene, at 28%-18% (+10); McConnell, at 31%-46% (-15); and Cheney, at 14%-42% (-28).

  • Greene is the least well known of the four, with 51% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying they don’t know enough to say whether their impression is favorable or not. Respondents have the most fully formed views of McConnell.
  • Republican respondents are three times as likely to say their views align with Greene than with Cheney, but nearly one-third say they don’t align with either, and half say they don’t know enough to say.
  • Republican respondents who voted for Trump in November gave McCarthy a high net favorable rating (+31) and McConnell a high net unfavorable rating (-18).

The intrigue: People who identify with Greene are disproportionately likely to have lost faith in democracy or believe despite evidence that voter fraud is rampant in their state.

How scary is that?

Leitura by José Ferraz de Almeida JúniorDemocrats are moving forward on a plan to take away Greene’s committee assignments. CNN: House to vote on removing Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments.

The House will vote Thursday on a measure to remove Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments, a decisive step that comes in the wake of recently unearthed incendiary and violent past statements from the congresswoman that have triggered widespread backlash from Democrats and divided congressional Republicans.

House Democrats, who control the chamber, set up the vote after first attempting to pressure Republicans to strip the Georgia Republican of committee assignments on their own. House Republicans have not taken that action, however, and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday released a statement calling the push by Democrats to take away the congresswoman’s committee assignments a “partisan power grab.”

The measure the House will take up calls for Greene to be removed from the House Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee “in light of conduct she has exhibited.”

The move could set a risky precedent as Democrats target a sitting member of the opposing party in Congress over views expressed prior to her serving as an elected official — one that has the potential to someday be used against the party by Republicans.

Interesting stories to check out today:

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Slate: How Georgia Newspapers Are Covering Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Atlantic: What QAnon Has in Common With the Birchers: Sixty years ago, many GOP leaders resisted extremism. Now they’re not even trying.

Just Security: Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda. Scholars on the Nazis and anti-Semitism have seen this before.

Norm Eisen and Katherine Reisner at USA Today: Whatever legal or constitutional test you apply, Trump incited the violent Capitol attack.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney unveils plan to provide $3,000 per child, giving bipartisan support to President Biden’s effort.

Slate: Biden Ousts All 10 of Trump’s Union Busters From Powerful Labor Panel.

NBC News: Biden administration weighs plan to directly send masks to all Americans.

Moe Tkacik at Slate: The Lousy Tippers of the Trump Administration. They were exhausting, impossible, stingy, and cruel, just like at their day jobs.

It has been quiet around here lately. I know I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, and I’m probably not alone. I’m realizing that Trump culture isn’t going to just magically go away. But I do hope you’ll check in and leave a comment or link when you can. We miss you when we don’t hear from you!


Tuesday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Just 22 more days until Biden’s inauguration, and one more week until Congress counts the electoral votes on January 6. There’s still plenty of time for Trump to throw tantrums and pardon more war criminals, but his time in the White House is almost over. Unfortunately, it looks like January will be nightmarish.

Justin Hendrix at Substack: January will be one of the worst months in American history.

Simply put, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the country, and the record number of new cases since Thanksgiving is about to produce tens of thousands of additional hospitalizations, pushing health systems beyond the limit and likely driving daily death counts well beyond where they are today. Consider just a few data points:

  • The IHME model now predicts more than 100,000 Americans will die in January alone, taking the total known pandemic death toll over 450,000.https___bucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com_public_images_047bc437-c95c-4ae4-b66d-c1ff5d1c5f01_846x620
  • Hospitalizations, now at record highs, will likely explode. Last night the Covid Tracking Project reported a record number of hospitalized Americans, at 118,720, despite a number of states not reporting new figures due to the holiday. If that number seems enormous, consider that California’s model suggests that the state, which just crested 20,000 current hospitalizations, may itself reach 100,000 in January.

Imagine- nearly double the American death toll of the Vietnam War- across its nine years- in a single month. A quarter the number of all American losses in the roughly four years it fought in World War II- in a single month. In the face of this mounting disaster, the President is golfing in Florida. The Vice President and Head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is vacationing in Vail, Colorado. The nation is effectively without leadership as we approach an event horizon of a black hole of death and anguish more acute than anything we’ve seen for generations.

Click the link to read the whole thing.

December was already bad enough. Eyewitness News Los Angeles: December deadliest month in US since COVID-19 pandemic began; January projections ‘nightmarish,’ expert says.

December has been the nation’s deadliest month since the COVID-19 pandemic’s start — with more than 63,000 Americans lost to the virus in the past 26 days.

In comparison, the entire month of November saw about 36,964 deaths, CNN reported.

download (4)The grim death toll comes on the heels of several brutal months for the US, with COVID-19 ravaging communities from coast to coast, crippling hospital systems and prompting new widespread restrictions.

The authorization of two COVID-19 vaccines earlier in December offered some hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. But experts continue to warn that while the end is in sight, the pandemic is not over and another surge stemming from the Christmas holiday could be on its way.

“We very well might see a post-seasonal — in the sense of Christmas, New Years — surge,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, pointing to holiday travel and private gatherings taking place despite the advice of health experts.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert described the potential rise in cases as a “surge upon a surge,” telling CNN’s Dana Bash, “If you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we’ve experienced as we’ve gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it is really quite troubling.”

NBC News: Biden adviser warns of ‘worst’ January ever from post-Christmas Covid surge.

Despite the rollout of two new vaccines, the pandemic is accelerating and the United States should brace itself for “one of the worst months in this nation’s history in January,” one of President-elect Joe Biden’s top Covid-19 advisers warned Monday.

“There is no doubt about that,” the expert, Dr. Celine Gounder, said on CNBC. “That cake is in the oven already, with the travel that has happened over the holidays.”

download (5)That dire warning came as the number of Covid-19 infections rose past 19.2 million after Christmas and the number of deaths from coronavirus neared 334,000, the latest NBC News data showed.

Gounder, a member of the Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, described a nightmarish scenario in which local health officials are forced to erect field hospitals because hallways and even some parking lots are already packed with sick patients.

And an even bigger crisis, Gounder said, will be finding enough doctors and nurses to treat everybody.

“You can’t stand up new doctors and nurses the way you can field hospitals,” Gounder said. “You can’t just create them out of thin air.”

Yesterday the House voted to increase the stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, as Trump demanded. The Washington Post reports: House votes to boost stimulus checks to $2,000 with bipartisan support.

The House on Monday voted to beef up stimulus checks set to go out to American households in the coming weeks from $600 to $2,000. The chamber acted swiftly after President Trump demanded the larger payments last week, but passage of the measure is uncertain because Senate Republicans have not unified behind the idea.

On Sunday, Trump signed into law a $900 billion emergency relief package that included $600 checks. His advisers had advocated for those payments, but Trump later called the check size “measly” and demanded it be increased. After he signed the law, he pledged to continue pushing for the larger payments, something many Democrats also support.

Forty-four Republicans joined the vast majority of Democrats on Monday in approving the bill on a 275-to-134 vote — narrowly clearing the two-thirds threshold it needed to pass. The measure’s fate is much less certain in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.

According to Axios, GOP Senators are beginning to waver: Senate tide begins to shift toward $2,000 checks after Trump’s push.

A couple of days ago,it looked impossible that $2,000 COVID relief checks — up from the $600 checks for individuals in the package President Trump signed Sunday — could pass the Senate. That has changed with Trump’s final-hours advocacy for bigger checks, Republican sources tell Axios.

20201228edsuc-aThe state of play: It’s still an uphill battle. But Republican senators are feeling more pressure from constituents — pumped by Trump — to do more.

  • It could be too politically risky for some Republican senators to vote “no.”
  • If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “brings it to the floor, it might get 60. Then Trump can claim victory,” said a Republican source who provided a breakdown of how the vote could go.

Driving the news: “I am concerned about the debt, but working families have been hurt badly by the pandemic,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted Monday. “This is why I supported $600 direct payments to working families & if given the chance will vote to increase the amount.”

Senators to watch: Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — with one or two other spending hardliners needed.

I’ll believe it when I see it. Besides, Bernie Sanders is doing his best to keep it from happening. He wants to put a hold on the NDAA bill, which could shift the argument from “Republicans want people to starve” to Democrats want to block pay raises for the troops.”

Politico: Bernie Sanders to delay defense veto override in bid for $2,000 checks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans.

“McConnell and the Senate want to expedite the override vote and I understand that. But I’m not going to allow that to happen unless there is a vote, no matter how long that takes, on the $2,000 direct payment,” Sanders said in an interview on Monday night. The Vermont independent can’t ultimately stop the veto override vote, but he can delay it until New Year’s Day and make things more difficult for the GOP.

IMHO, this will make it more difficult for Democrats in the long run.

More information is coming out about the Nashville bomber Anthony Warner.

Here’s some ancient history from The Daily Beast: Alleged Nashville Bomber Anthony Quinn Warner ‘Hated Cops’ and Loved Weed: Former Co-Worker.

Tom Lundborg was a teenager in the late 1970s when he worked under accused Nashville bomber Anthony Quinn Warner, who was a technician for an alarm company.

Back then, Lundborg’s father owned A.C.E. Alarms, a firm providing commercial and residential burglar systems, but was incapacitated in a car wreck. That left a young Lundborg and 20-something “Tony” Warner to run the business, and they drove to different sites to do burglar alarm installations and service calls.

ANthony-Warner-FBI

The FBI released this photo of Anthony Q. Warner.

“I worked with Tony as his helper. I kind of looked up to him. He was kind of a hippie. Had long hair, a Magnum, P.I. mustache,” Lundborg told The Daily Beast. “He was a smart cocky kind of guy. I rode around with him all day every day—during the summers, at least for a couple years.”

Lundborg said Warner disliked authority, loved smoking weed and claimed he’d just gotten out of the Navy. (It’s unclear whether Warner was ever in the U.S. Armed Forces, but records show he was arrested for marijuana possession in 1978.)

They drove around listening to 103 KDF, previously Nashville’s main rock station, and if Warner spotted a police officer, he’d break his silence to lecture the teenage Lundborg.

“I hate cops. They’re all corrupt,” Warner would say. “Never trust a cop.”

Lundborg said he spoke to the FBI about Warner, as authorities try to piece together a motive for the Christmas Day explosion which injured eight people and destroyed multiple buildings.

From the AP: Bomber to neighbor: The world is ‘never going to forget me.’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — It seemed like a friendly chat between neighbors. Only after a bomb exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning could Rick Laude grasp the sinister meaning behind his neighbor’s smiling remark that the city and the rest of the world would never forget him.

Laude told The Associated Press on Monday that he was speechless when he learned that authorities identified his 63-year-old neighbor, Anthony Quinn Warner, as the man suspected of detonating a bomb that killed himself, injured three other people and damaged dozens of buildings.

Laude said he saw Warner standing at his mailbox less than a week before Christmas and pulled over in his car to talk. After asking how Warner’s elderly mother was doing, Laude said he casually asked, “Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?”

Warner smiled and said, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Laude recalled.

Laude said he didn’t think much of the remark and thought Warner only meant that “something good” was going to happen for him financially.

"First the gloves, then the masks, now the tinfoil hats."

“First the gloves, then the masks, now the tinfoil hats.”

From The Daily Mail, so take it with a grain of salt: REVEALED: Nashville bomber Anthony Warner ‘targeted AT&T after his father who worked for subsidiary died of dementia – fueling his conspiracy theory that 5G is killing people.’

Nashville bomber Anthony Quinn Warner hoped he would be ‘hailed a hero’ for targeting AT&T because he believed 5G cellular technology was killing people, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.

The 63-year-old computer tech – who died in the suspected suicide blast but was identified Sunday from DNA found in his mangled RV – was ‘heavily into conspiracy theories’, according to a source close to the investigation.

Various baseless theories have circulated since the lightning-fast 5G network was introduced, some claiming it’s a tool to spy on Americans, others speculating that it has fueled the spread of COVID-19….

Electronic devices seized from Warner’s former home in Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, have been sent to a digital forensics laboratory to unlock his online activity and find out where he discussed his warped views.

‘We are waiting on the digital footprint that should finally provide us with some answers,’ the source explained.

‘The unofficial motive thus far is the suspect believed 5G was the root of all deaths in the region and he’d be hailed a hero.’

I hope all you Sky Dancers are doing well and staying safe. I hope you’ll stop by here today if you have the time and inclination. We will get through the next 22 days together and then sane people take charge again.


Thursday Reads: The Trump Psychosis

Good Morning!!

Yesterday the news broke that Tom Seaver had died, but for some reason the cause of his death wasn’t immediately emphasized. He died because he had Covid-19. He also had dementia, but the coronavirus is what killed him. Today that fact is appearing in headlines.

NBC News: Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver dies of COVID-19, dementia at 75.

Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has died of complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, the National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement Wednesday. He was 75.

He died peacefully in his sleep Monday, the organization said.

“We are heartbroken to share that our beloved husband and father has passed away,” said a family statement from Seaver’s wife, Nancy, and daughters, Sarah and Anne. “We send our love out to his fans, as we mourn his loss with you.”

Seaver played 12 seasons with the Mets, winning the National League Cy Young Award, honoring the league’s best pitcher, three times.

Why am I calling attention to this? Because the latest conspiracy that Trump has begun pushing is that somehow people who died of Covid-19 who also had other medical conditions shouldn’t be counted in the coronvirus death totals.

The Daily Beast: CDC Deluged With ‘Insane’ Number of Calls About Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been deluged with a flood of media requests about a conspiracy theory promulgated by QAnon—an increasingly violent far-right group praised by President Donald Trump that is widely known for spreading disinformation.

As the agency attempted to manage the fallout of a controversial Health and Human Services announcement that it had revised testing guidelines to exclude individuals who do not exhibit symptoms, officials were sidetracked by a barrage of inquiries about whether the CDC had lied about the number of Americans who died as a result of the coronavirus. Over the weekend QAnon, a movement whose believers often push out falsities on a myriad of subjects, promoted a bogus theory that only 6 percent of people listed as having died from the coronavirus had “actually died” from COVID-19.

Officials at the CDC said they spent the last several days fielding questions or requests for comment from dozens of local and national outlets asking to clarify whether the agency had falsified its data. The wave of emails and calls about the conspiracy theory caught officials off-guard….

The CDC effort to combat accusations from QAnon, a relatively new, increasingly unhinged movement that’s making inroads into online health communities, shows the power that conspiracy theorists can have during the pandemic—especially when boosted by the president. It also shows just how permeable the barrier between conspiracy cranks and established media outlets can be.

“In all my time working in the government I’ve never had to deal with something this crazy. The level of disinformation spread by this group has grown in recent months and now we’re having to actively debunk it through the press.”

The “six percent” claim was embraced by conservatives, who have been eager for ways to downplay the virus’ American death toll and have claimed for months that the CDC and hospitals were overcounting COVID-19 deaths. To QAnon supporters, the claim purports to show that COVID-19 has killed only 9,000 people, with the vast majority of the roughly 183,000 COVID-19 casualties actually killed by another ailment.

The simple truth is that Tom Seaver wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t contracted the virus and neither would thousands of other Americans who also may have had high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, or some other secondary condition.

Another crazy conspiracy that Trump has been pushing for a long time is the notion that mail-in ballots cannot be trusted. Yesterday, Trump actually recommended that voters in North Carolina should try to vote twice. NBC News: Trump encourages North Carolina residents to vote twice to test mail-in system.

President Donald Trump suggested that people in North Carolina should vote twice in the November election, once by mail and once in person, escalating his attempts to cast confusion and doubt on the validity of the results.

“So let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote,” Trump said when asked whether he has confidence in the mail-in system in North Carolina, a battleground state.

“If it’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote. So that’s the way it is. And that’s what they should do,” he said.

It is illegal to vote more than once in an election.

But Bill Barr, who is supposedly the Attorney General of the United States isn’t sure that voting twice is illegal. Newsweek: Bill Barr Mocked After ‘Playing Dumb’ Over Legality of Voting Twice.

Appearing on CNN on Wednesday, Barr said the president was trying to make the point that election monitoring was not good enough to prevent people from voting at polling stations if they already cast their ballots by mail.

But when he was pressed on the fact that such an action would be illegal, he said he was unaware of what state laws said about the legality of voting twice.

“I don’t know what the law in the particular state says, and when that vote becomes final,” Barr told CNN.

The network host Wolf Blitzer then asked: “Is there any state in which you can vote twice?”

“Maybe you can change your vote up to a particular time, I don’t know what the law is,” the attorney general replied.

Barr might as well come out and say that he’s the chairman of Trump’s reelection campaign. In the CNN interview, he also claimed that “voting by mail is ‘playing with fire'”

“This is playing with fire. We’re a very closely divided country here,” Barr said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” of changes this year where states are allowing more voting by mail because of the pandemic.

“People trying to change the rules to this, to this methodology — which, as a matter of logic, is very open to fraud and coercion — is reckless and dangerous and people are playing with fire,” Barr added.

Barr provided no evidence for his claims.

These comments contradict the views of bipartisan election officials and a wide array of voting experts who say voting-by-mail is a safe option with protections in place to prevent systematic fraud. There is no widespread fraud in US elections, even in states with a history of heavy mail-in voting, running directly counter to Barr’s assertions.

Barr’s comments seem to play into Trump’s attempts to stoke fear and add chaos to the coming election. Several states have expanded their mail-in voting options this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Trump campaign and Republican Party are fighting more widespread options for voters.

And then there’s Trump bizarre story about thugs, looters, and anarchists on planes flying around to cause “big trouble.” Salon: Thugs on a plane? Trump’s bizarre yarn echoes viral Facebook rumor — and Rudy Giuliani’s rants.

President Trump pushed a baseless and bizarre conspiracy theory on Monday that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” was sent to disrupt the Republican National Convention, a claim that appears almost identical to a rumor that traveled across Facebook three months ago.

Trump made the claim in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, alleging without evidence that “we had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.”

While the president would not divulge more details, he assured Ingraham that the incident is “under investigation right now.”

There is no evidence of such a flight. When Ingraham asked Trump to say more, the president replied, “I’ll tell you sometime.” The unidentified black-clad “thugs,” the president said, were headed to Washington D.C., to disrupt the RNC….

NBC News’ Ben Collins later reported that the rumor lines up with a viral Facebook post from June 1, which falsely claimed to have observed a similar sinister contingent on board a flight from Seattle to Boise, Idaho: “At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.”

Seriously, Trump is beginning to sound truly delusional. I’m not sure he’s in touch with reality much of the time. The White House doctor might need to prescribe and antipsychotic drug.

From Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast: Devin Nunes May Be Trump’s ‘Person’ Who Witnessed the Antifa Plane ‘Firsthand.’

President Donald Trump’s latest outlandish conspiracy about a “person” he refuses to name having “firsthand” witnessed a commercial flight full of “thugs” and “looters” clad in “black uniforms with gear” may seem ripped directly from an unhinged relative’s Facebook page. But before this bizarre theory was being pushed by the president, another GOP lawmaker was spouting a nearly identical story….

“So, these people that descended on Washington, D.C., most of them were not local,” Nunes declared. “In fact, I flew in with a bunch of them where I got on a plane in Salt Lake City where I had to commute through and I saw maybe two dozen BLM people.”

Nunes continued: “The irony is they were all white people, they weren’t even Black, but somebody was paying for those people to go there—they were coordinated, paying for that, and then what they did was they were not protesting. This is not protesting when you block the exits of the White House.”

Neither Nunes’ office nor the White House returned a request for comment. But the congressman’s interview with Breitbart represents a type of missing puzzle piece to the mystery of just where Trump got the idea of an antifa plane packed with geared-up looters.

Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke hilariously satirizes the “thugs on a plane” narrative: Column: Trump’s ‘Air Antifa’ plane story is true (maybe). I know because I was there (maybe). A brief excerpt:

Which plane traveling to Washington, D.C., was this, and who were these black-clad thugs and who relayed this information?

Trump wouldn’t say. But I will: It was me. I was on that black-clad thug plane. I am President Trump’s source for this harrowing tale of rioters flying commercial….

I’ll explain the whole thing. And like the president, I’ll do it in a way that lacks specific details, sounds wildly unhinged and makes you wonder if you should start slowly walking away, careful not to make any sudden movements.

It was August-whatever, and I was catching the Air Leftist “looters & anarchists” flight out of O’Hare at a time I will not reveal. I try to avoid that airline — they try to turn you socialist by evenly redistributing peanuts among the passengers — but it was the cheapest fare I could find.

Just before I got on board, someone in a dark shadow of the terminal started talking to me about the coronavirus and how Trump had mishandled the pandemic and made America a global laughingstock. I shouted, “LAW AND ORDER!” at the guy, and that made him go away.

Next we boarded the plane in order from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

I sat down and took out some meat I had killed with my gun earlier in the day, and that’s when I noticed it: black-clad thugs, everywhere. I felt very uncomfortable, particularly when two of them sat down in my row.

I asked the first one what he does, and he said: “I’m a looter. I just bought this $300 plane ticket so I could travel to wherever and steal $100 worth of clothes, which is something that definitely happens because it makes sense.”

The other guy nodded and said, “I’m an anarchist. And I’m hoping to destroy America while also collecting valuable mileage points for future travel.”

I kept silent for a moment, afraid they would beat me up or destroy my suburb. Then I asked: “So what are you all looking for?”

They both said: “Trouble.”

Read the whole thing at the link.

I also recommend reading two general articles on Trumpist conspiracy theories:

Daniel Dale at CNN: Fact check: A guide to 9 conspiracy theories Trump is currently pushing.

BBC News: How Covid-19 myths are merging with the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Just two more months until the election. I only hope we can rid ourselves of the lunatic in the White House, but will sanity be restored to the country as a whole if he loses? We can only hope.

Take care Sky Dancers! Stay safe and sane and check in if you can.