Friday Reads: A Return to ‘Radical Normalcy’*

Fellini – Satyricon (1969)

Good Day Sky Dancers!

For the first time in four years I had CNN or MSNBC news on during the day while I was working with students and grading. It’s been my background noise for years but I gave it up for at least the last two. Yesterday and today,  it’s like being a kid on Christmas morning just about every hour.  Presents! Presents! Presents!

We heard an unleashed Dr Fauci give a press conference filled with facts and science!  There were presidential signatures with actual pens–not childlike sharpie markers–placed on executive orders giving us a Federal Response to Covid-19 and to future Pandemics.  And freeing us from so much of the damage Trump has done to the environment, diplomacy, and collective bargaining.

We welcomed back the idea that women have a right to moral agency and to make decisions concerning their own bodies without politicians. Two wonderfully able people were put into cabinet posts for the nation’s defense and intelligence.  *Katie Tur called it a return to ‘radical normalcy’.  I felt years of stress fall from my shoulders and today, I slept in late again with no Felliniesque Dystopian nightmare.

Today, Jane Yellen was approved for Treasury Secretary.  I’m thrilled.

La Strada (1954, dir. Fellini) – The Fool: “What a funny face! Are you a woman, really? Or an artichoke?”

The House will send its Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on Monday where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the new Democratic majority will work with what’s left of the Trump-Free Republican Party to deal with sedition charges.  This is from Axios and Zachary Basu.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted.

  • Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February to allow senators more time to gather evidence and to give Trump proper due process.
  • Schumer had countered that it would force the Senate to delay other important business, such as passing COVID relief.

What they’re saying: “I’ve heard some of my Republican colleagues argue that this trial would be unconstitutional because Donald Trump is no longer in office. An argument that has been roundly repudiated, debunked by hundreds of constitutional scholars — left, right, and center — and defies basic common sense,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

  • “It makes no sense whatsoever that a president or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then be permitted to resign so as to avoid accountability and a vote to disbar them from future office. It makes no sense,” he continued.

The bottom line: Trump is the first president to be impeached twice, and he will be the first to face a Senate trial after leaving office.

Talking Heads consider Trump’s choice of lawyers to be a signal he’s taking this impeachment with more gravitas.  He’s no longer protected by the Presidency and he’s already facing financial problems.  This should be a seriously good watch.

Some Trump allies believe the president plans to use his trial to further his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, according to two former aides familiar with his strategy. One of the aides cautioned that no defense strategy had been definitively agreed upon, though.

Bowers’ history suggests that the ex-president is keen on focusing on how votes were cast and counted during the 2020 cycle.Bowers served under President George W. Bush as special counsel for voting matters in the Justice Department, and worked as counsel in Florida for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.

“All I can say is based on the Butch Bowers I know and respect, I would hope that he wouldn’t be sucked in as a tool in advancing the president’s conspiracy theories,” Sanford said.

Trump’s push to bolster his defense team comes one week after House Democrats impeached him for a second time on charges of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the building — injuring law enforcement officials and forcing the evacuation of members of Congress — after rallying with the ex-president outside the White House.

Clowns: ‘one of Fellini’s most complex, allusive and elusive pictures’.

There’s actually a lot of there there.

Meanwhile, back in the Trump clown car that still functions in and around Capitol Hill, one of the whack-a-do QAnon Congresswomen Margorie Taylor Greene is fundraising off of it as reported by Newsweek.   Hunter Biden’s Laptop is the new What about her emails?

According to a press release posted to Twitter by Greene, the impeachment articles are for Biden’s “corrupt actions involving his quid pro quo in Ukraine and his abuse of power by allowing his son, Hunter Biden, to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China.”

There’s already a twitter troll army out there that seem to be freshly minted like a few hours ago.

The lawyers on the Impeachment side are an impressive list of prosecutors.  But so are the ones waiting to hit him with all kinds of suits now that he’s left office.

On the other side of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency, the lawyers are waiting.

Leaving aside his Senate impeachment trial, mounting government investigations include a civil probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and a federal probe by acting U.S. attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin that may include Trump’s role in the catastrophic storming of the U.S. Capitol this month.

But already pending for the South Florida retiree is a trio of lawsuits that allege defamation, fraud and more fraud — all of which are helmed by one attorney.

Roberta Kaplan’s clients include writer E. Jean Carroll, who filed a defamation case after Trump claimed she was “totally lying” about her allegation that he raped her a quarter-century ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room, and niece Mary L. Trump, who claims that Trump and two of his siblings deprived her of an inheritance worth millions.

“I became the go-to person to sue the president,” says Kaplan, 54, with considerable relish.

She is in many ways the ideal legal adversary to take on Trump. Kaplan is a brash and original strategist, with neither a gift for patience nor silence, a crusader for underdogs who has won almost every legal accolade imaginable. Kaplan, says New York Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in an email, “has been indispensable in the fight against the cancer of hate and division that Trump spent four years exacerbating.”

Before the presidency, Trump was often as engaged in legal tussles as he was in real estate, suing and threatening to sue his way out of financial trouble. With a return to private life, “his terror is that he will no longer be protected by the office and will have to deal with these lawsuits,” says his niece. Trump faces the prospect of spending considerable time in the role of defendant. Kaplan says she will seek to depose him in all three cases. Trump’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment on the cases in this article.

8 1/2, (1963)

So, if you like Law and Order Shows, we have what seems an endless stream of them coming for Unindicted Co-conspirator Number One.  Radical Normalcy will indeed by Radical for the Trump Crime Family.  The reckoning is coming.

Meanwhile,  GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!  Buck up White Christian Nationalists! You snowflakes you!

From  WAPO:   Biden calls for LGBTQ protections in Day 1 executive order, angering conservatives

On his first day in office, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order making it clear that gay and transgender people are protected against discrimination in schools, health care, the workplace and other realms of American life.

Via  KLRT-TV: President Biden has button used to order Diet Coke removed from Oval Office’s Resolute Desk—  (NEXSTAR)

The furniture and artwork may be largely the same, but one ornament has apparently quickly disappeared disappeared from the White House Oval Office following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2 (1963)

From Susannah George at the  Washington Post: U.S. to resume processing thousands of stalled visas for Afghans who aided Americans

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul will soon resume processing thousands of stalled special visa applications for Afghans who aided U.S. forces after halting visa interviews in March because of the pandemic.

A State Department official said the U.S. Embassy in Kabul would begin “a phased resumption” of in-person interviews in February. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the State Department, would not comment on how many visas the embassy expects to process.

More than 7,000 special visas allocated to Afghans by Congress in 2020 went unissued, compared with about 5,000 the year before, according to State Department data. Nearly 19,000 visa applications were stuck in processing as of September 2019, according to a State Department audit last year, a number that was all but guaranteed to grow with the coronavirus disruptions.

Doesn’t Radical Normalcy feel grand?  I, for one, am looking forward to another boring Press Conference where we learn endless details and actually information about all kinds of things that just go along with basic competent governance.   No more of any of this:

I’m beginning to feel human and alive again!

How are y’all doing? What’s on your reading and blogging list today?