Most of us knew the Republican National Convention was going to be deeply weird before we tuned in; expecting normalcy from this kind of event is like opening your mouth next to a UV light and expecting it to cure you of coronavirus. Nevertheless, what we saw tonight was so especially weird that it’s worth discussing beyond the usual, “Wow, was that a fever dream?” or, “Did you get anything from that word salad?” Because this was a glimpse of what we’re in for over the next four years if Trump continues the usual trend and wins himself a second term — and it’s both darkly funny and horribly dangerous.
Who to mention first? Natalie Harp, the woman who survived a diagnosis of terminal bone cancer because of experimental treatment and who claimed that “when Democrats say free healthcare, they mean marijuana, opioids” and “death panels” for the disabled? Representative Matt Gaetz, who referred to Democrats as “woketopians” (what?) ready to “disarm you, unlock the prisons” and “invite MS13 to live nextdoor” (a racist dog-whistle if ever I heard one)? The speaker opening the convention who reeled off a list of “Democrat policies” which would harm the country, none of which were actual Democrat policies? Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley saying that “Joe Biden is good for Iran and Isis, great for communist China”? Don Jr claiming that “the left” is trying to “cancel” the Founding Fathers? The nurse from a 2,000-person town in Virginia who said “I don’t want the media taking my story and twisting it so let me be clear: Donald Trump saved countless lives” during the pandemic, as the death rate surpassed 177,000? Or perhaps the St Louis couple who famously pointed their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters showing up to complain they’re facing charges and claim Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs”? Oh, I don’t know, Mom, don’t make me choose!
Now we know why convalescent plasma was suddenly given FDA approval this morning: it was central to quite a few speeches vaunting Trump as the hero of Covid-19 (“without him, millions would have died,” said Natalie Harp, without irony.) The fact that this important medical turning-point was timed perfectly for the beginning of the Republican convention really should give us all pause. Plenty have opined that a vaccine might be rushed through right before Election Day in November for the same reasons. Trump’s buddy Vladimir Putin made a similar PR move himself in August, announcing that the country had won the race for an inoculation despite the fact that only 24 percent of Russian doctors say they would take the vaccine themselves — so, y’know, it has precedent. Still, it beats injecting bleach into your veins.
Read the whole thing at The Independent.
Many people who watched the proceedings thought Donald Trump Jr. looked stoned during his convention speech.
Quietly, Guilfoyle has become a key figure in the preservation and furthering of Trumpism. This week, the journalist Jason Zengerle wrote in the Times Magazine that Guilfoyle and Donald, Jr., “have become fund-raising powerhouses,” helping to amass the war chest that is keeping Trump—despite a pandemic, an economic crisis, and widespread civil unrest—within at least striking distance of a win in November. In early March, in what might go down as one of the final pre-pandemic fêtes of Trump’s first term in office, Guilfoyle celebrated her fifty-first birthday during a big donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago, the President’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. “It was like a Gatsbyesque extravaganza,” one guest told Zengerle. The President stood by Guilfoyle as the crowd of a hundred people sang “Happy Birthday.” Afterward, Trump kissed her on the head. “Four more years!” Guilfoyle shouted.
On Monday, Guilfoyle shouted some more things. Earlier in the day, the Trump campaign held a call with reporters, one of whom asked whether Guilfoyle, in her prerecorded speech, might go after Kamala Harris, the California senator and Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. (Guilfoyle was formerly married to California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has been described as Harris’s political “sibling.”) The campaign demurred, not wanting to give anything away. But the expectation that Guilfoyle might be deployed in some kind of surgical political strike proved misguided. At the podium, she delivered a short speech whose tone might be described as high-key dystopian. Going into the Convention, the Trump campaign had suggested that it was looking to strike a note of sunny optimism. Guilfoyle’s speech wasn’t it. “They want to destroy this country, and everything that we have fought for and hold dear,” she said. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think, and believe, so that they can control how you live! They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal, victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.” Howard Dean’s Presidential aspirations are popularly remembered as falling apart after one misdeployed yelp. On Monday, Guilfoyle went on for six minutes.
Imagine being Gavin Newsom last night. You’re currently dealing with multiple giant fires, an uncontrolled pandemic, and a once in a lifetime economic crisis. You turn on the TV and your ex-wife is addressing a Nuremberg rally along with her boyfriend, Donald Trump Jr.
Colbert was stunned by the speeches from Donald Trump Jr. ― son of President Donald Trump ― and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. Trump Jr. delivered a sweaty rant that name-checked the Loch Ness Monster while Guilfoyle fired off a screaming speech that had Colbert reaching for the volume control. Or, as Colbert described it, “some very nuanced screams.”
Then he rolled clips of Guilfoyle’s loud address.
“And that wasn’t her only story to shriek,” he said before throwing to footage of her even louder closing lines in which she told viewers that Trump “emancipates you and lifts you up to live your American dream!”
When the camera came back to Colbert, he was in hiding.
“Is the loud lady gone?” he asked as he reemerged. “I’m scared. It’s the first time in my life I’ve had to turn down the volume on C-SPAN. God, I’m glad we already had our kids because I was too close to the TV, I might’ve been sterilized by that.”
Later, Colbert discussed Trump Jr.’s speech. He couldn’t get over “Junior’s sweaty face and wet, bloodshot eyes.”
“Either he’s high or that’s what happens when you live in the splash zone of Screamin’ Guilfoyle,” he said. “Just bring a poncho.”
Tim Scott waxed about his family arc — “from cotton to Congress in one lifetime” — and invoked George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Nikki Haley spoke of her Indian roots and alluded to her decision to take down the Confederate flag. Herschel Walker said he’s seen “racism up close” — and it’s not Donald Trump.
For a president credibly accused of stoking racial fears and divisions throughout his term, Trump, with his choice of speakers, leaned hard into the topic during the first night of his convention on Monday. One Republican after another defended Trump’s record on race, while highlighting Joe Biden’s race-related gaffes and history pushing the 1994 crime bill.
But even as speakers such as Scott and Haley attempted to soften Trump’s image on race — while essentially making the case that the racial justice movement has gone too far in its views of policing — others took a harder-edged tack that undercut the message of inclusion. In an ominous presentation that warned suburbanites that their safety is at risk if Democrats win, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home in St. Louis, made clear that the president’s outreach would go only so far.
“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country,” Patricia McCloskey said. “Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”
JJ isn’t able to write her usual Wednesday post, because she had to take Jake to Atlanta for doctor’s appointment. I have a lot to do today too, so this is going be a quickie post with some good news and the usual bad news headlines.
Part of the good news is that I have some good news to begin with today!
Media Consolidation Fail
Rupert Murdoch has given up on taking over Time Warner, according to the LA Times.
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has abandoned its $80-billion takeover bid for rival Time Warner, a stunning retreat for a mogul not known for throwing in the towel.
Murdoch said Tuesday that he wanted to orchestrate a friendly, not hostile, takeover. But Time Warner Inc.’s board dug in, and that meant Fox would have had to wage a contentious and protracted fight that could risk the company’s value.
Over the weekend, Murdoch and his top deputies assessed the situation and concluded that their chances of success were slim. Wall Street and many in Hollywood had been betting that Murdoch would eventually claim Time Warner as the grand prize in his 60-year-plus quest to build the world’s most powerful media company.21st Century Fox withdrew its $75 billion takeover offer for Time Warner Inc., the owner of HBO and Warner Bros.
“He underestimated the resolve of Time Warner’s board and [Chief Executive] Jeff Bewkes to fight this thing,” said one person close to Time Warner who was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.
Fox executives were genuinely surprised that Time Warner declined to even entertain deal discussions. Not only did Time Warner reject the $80-billion offer, but its board moved quickly to change its corporate bylaws to make it more difficult for Murdoch to buy the company.
I’m really surprised and gratified by this news; I’m so happy that Murdoch isn’t going to get his hands on HBO for the time being.
Thousands of workers and customers at the troubled Market Basket supermarket chain shouted “Bring him back!” Tuesday at a boisterous rally designed to pressure management to reinstate the company’s fired chief executive or accept his offer to buy the New England chain.
The rally outside a Market Basket store in Tewksbury was the fourth large demonstration workers have held since Arthur T. Demoulas was fired in June by a board controlled by his cousin and rival, Arthur S. Demoulas.
Over the last two weeks, hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers have refused to make deliveries to the family-owned chain’s 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, leaving stock severely depleted and prompting customers to shop at other grocery stores. Market Basket, based in Tewksbury, is known for its low prices.
“Our resolve has galvanized to something a lot firmer than it was,” fired Market Basket employee Steve Paulenka told WBUR before the rally. “The customer boycott, the employee resolve is just insurmountable. The customers aren’t coming back until we come back, and we’re not coming back until the boss comes back.”
The rally had the atmosphere of an outdoor rock festival, as participants threw beach balls high in the air and music blasted from large speakers set up along the parking lot.
TEWKSBURY, Mass. — With a crippling job action enveloping the New England supermarket chain Market Basket for a third week, the company’s board is conducting round-the-clock negotiations with its former president — and others — in search of a deal that will quell the turmoil.
But the bid by the former chief, Arthur T. Demoulas, to buy the company is mired in uncertainty, according to people close to the negotiations. And the board is weighing nearly a dozen offers, including one that is higher than Mr. Demoulas’s, these people said. The sale could be worth more than $3.5 billion.
While the board bargains with bidders behind closed doors, employees continue to stage public rallies to demand that “Artie T.,” as he is known, be brought back to run the company. He was deposed as president in June in the latest chapter of a decades-long feud with his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, who now controls Market Basket, one of New England’s most successful retail chains….
Market Basket is said to be losing millions of dollars a week in sales. The shelves are devoid of fresh produce, meat and dairy products. Supplies of nonperishables are dwindling, too, as if a huge snowstorm had struck.
At the store in North Andover, Mass., where 21 registers are usually open and customers clog the aisles, only one register was open on Monday, and the cashier there had no customers. Mike Dunleavy, the store director in Somerville, Mass., said volume at his store had dropped 90 percent. Vendors, growers, drivers and others in Market Basket’s supply chain have all felt the pinch.
Hillary Clinton News
Here’s something interesting. The New York Daily News reports that Hillary Clinton has leased an office in midtown Manhattan.
Hillary Clinton has inked a deal for a brand new personal office in a Midtown skyscraper owned by real estate bigwig Stephen Green, a big Democratic donor.
Clinton signed a two-year lease for more than 4,000 square feet on the 27th floor of 120 West 45th St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., a source told the Daily News. The space has room for a staff of up to 25 people.
A spokesman for Clinton confirmed the new digs were a personal office. “Plan was for the personal office to move to NYC, we did that last week,” he said in an email.
Stephen Colbert had a surprise guest last night — presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who magically appeared to rescue her book from Colbert’s complaints about all the name dropping she did in its 600-plus pages….
When Clinton walked through the door, the audience, usually reverent for Colbert alone, started to yell, “Hillary, Hillary.” Colbert then proceeded to remind them that they had been chanting his name only four minutes earlier, “you two-timers.”
Watch the video and read Colbert’s tweets at the WaPo link.
That’s about all the good news I could find.
This morning’s breaking news headlines (links only).
It will probably be another slow news day today–in fact we’ll most likely have nothing but slow news days until we get past New Years. So I’ve got some non-political and not-all-that-important news to start this post.
If he had lived, Saturday, December 8 would have been Jim Morrison’s 69th birthday. Hard to believe. Of course the way he was going, he probably would have killed himself with alcohol anyway. But I wonder what he would have thought about the world today, if he had lived?
Instead these two, along with other musical members of the “27 club” are frozen in time, still young and vibrant while the rest of us have aged. Is there something significant about being 27? Is it a year in which a person gets over the hump, so to speak, and begins to move toward adulthood?
Professor Timothy Salthouse of the University of Virginia found reasoning, spatial visualisation and speed of thought all decline in our late 20s….His seven-year study of 2,000 healthy people aged 18-60 is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.
To test mental agility, the study participants had to solve puzzles, recall words and story details and spot patterns in letters and symbols….In nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was achieved was 22.
The first age at which there was any marked decline was at 27 in tests of brain speed, reasoning and visual puzzle-solving ability.
Things like memory stayed intact until the age of 37, on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60.
It may be true that certain mental abilities peak at age 22, but we now know that the frontal lobes continue to develop well into the 30s, and the brain can form new neurons even in old age. I guess it depends on which mental powers are most important to you. Personally I’m glad I didn’t check out at 27.
Would Morrison and Hendrix be surprised that it has taken so long for states to begin decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana? Or would the be surprised that has happened at all?
“Voters were loud and clear on Election Day,” Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement, as he signed an executive order to officially legalize the personal use and limited growing of marijuana for those 21 or older. Amendment 64, as it’s called, is now a part of the state’s constitution.
It is still illegal, however, to buy or sell marijuana “in any quantity” in Colorado or to consume it in public.
Hickenlooper, who opposed the amendment in the run-up to Election Day, announced the start of a 24-member task force that would “begin working immediately” to help the state navigate federal laws and establish how citizens can legally purchase and sell cannabis.
Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill, owned by one Frank Schnarr, is thought to be the first of its kind anywhere in the U.S.: a bar that lets patrons toke up freely.
“I’m about to lose my business,” the Olympia, Washington-based business owner told Reuters. “So I’ve got to figure out some way to get people in here.”
Just to make sure he’s not chasing off all his customers, Schnarr has set up the second floor of his bar as a private club called “Friends of Frankies.” Interested patrons are charged a $10-a-year fee to access the lounge, where they can smoke marijuana freely. The lounge also serves alcohol, manned by a staff of volunteers paid by tips.
I’m not sure I’d like it if public places in Massachusetts started allowing pot smoking. I guess that would make me into more of a homebody than I already am. I wouldn’t want to smell pot everywhere anymore than I want to smell cigarette smoke. Mary Crescenzo at HuffPo has similar concerns.
I have lots of questions about new state laws regarding weed. With U.S. nonsmoking laws among the most restrictive in the world, I can’t help but wonder if recreational marijuana smokers in Washington and Colorado will regard smoking marijuana as an exception to our nonsmoking rules. In these two states, will smoking marijuana be tolerated in public while smoking cigarettes in public is, for the most part, clearly restricted? A few days ago in Seattle, as people gathered in the streets to celebrate the legalization of the use of marijuana, police asked those smoking pot not to smoke in public. For now, Washington police officers are limited to issuing verbal warnings to smokers but nothing more. Those police requests didn’t seem to dampen the party, though. I can’t be the only one with questions on these new twists and turns in the law.
I have some other worries. I think it’s important for people to understand that pot isn’t completely harmless. A certain percentage of people will become addicted to it. I have seen people in withdrawal from marijuana–it can be problem for people who have addictive tendencies. Smoking a lot of pot may also push vulnerable young people into psychological disorders such as schizophrenia. And a recent study in New Zealand found that smoking pot before age 18 can hinder brain development.
Among a long-range study cohort of more than 1,000 New Zealanders, individuals who started using cannabis in adolescence and used it for years afterward showed an average decline in IQ of 8 points when their age 13 and age 38 IQ tests were compared. Quitting pot did not appear to reverse the loss either, said lead researcher Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University. The results appear online Aug. 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The key variable in this is the age of onset for marijuana use and the brain’s development, Meier said. Study subjects who didn’t take up pot until they were adults with fully-formed brains did not show similar mental declines. Before age 18, however, the brain is still being organized and remodeled to become more efficient, she said, and may be more vulnerable to damage from drugs.
“Marijuana is not harmless, particularly for adolescents,” said Meier, who produced this finding from the long term Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. The study has followed a group of 1,037 children born in 1972-73 in Dunedin, New Zealand from birth to age 38 and is led by Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, psychologists who hold dual appointments at Duke and the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.
About 5 percent of the study group were considered marijuana-dependent, or were using more than once a week before age 18. A dependent user is one who keeps using despite significant health, social or family problems.
I do support legalization, because I think it’s ridiculous that we are putting people in jail for possession of pot. But society needs to be aware of the consequences if more people begin using the drug regularly.
Due to the political courageousness of President Obama (there is simply no other way to put it), the folks inside the Beltway are finally having a serious discussion about taxing the rich. Obama is not only strongly fighting for higher tax rates on the higher-income earners, but he was the one who put the subject front and center in the election season — when he could easily have punted it to a non-election year.
But the “tax the rich” policies so far being discussed (at least the ones that leak out to the public) are laughably timid and tame, when you really examine the big picture. So far, what is making Republicans howl is President Obama’s plan to end the Bush tax cuts on the top two marginal income tax rates, which would raise them from 33 percent to 36 percent, and from 35 to 39.6 percent. Seen one way, that’s impressive, since tax rates haven’t gone up in such a fashion since President Clinton’s first year in office. But seen another, it’s not all that radical at all.
Consider the fact that nothing Obama is doing is going to “fix” the problem of Warren Buffett paying a lower tax rate than his secretary — a problem Obama has repeatedly said he’d like to tackle. On “entitlements reform,” only a few lonely voices crying in the wilderness are suggesting ending the most regressive federal tax around, by scrapping the cap on income for Social Security payroll taxes. Also seemingly forgotten in this debate is the proposal for a “millionaires’ tax” or a “transactions tax.” The real measure of whether Democrats and Republicans are both selling smoke and mirrors is whether they permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax — again, a subject which has barely been mentioned.
Click on the link to read Weigant’s recommendations.
It’s not just the Catholic Church that has a problem with sexual abuse. The New York Times has an article about a Hasidic religious counselor who has been convicted of abusing a young girl.
Sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has long been hidden. Victims who came forward were intimidated into silence; their families were shunned; cases were dropped for a lack of cooperation.
But on Monday, a State Supreme Court jury in Brooklyn delivered a stunning victory to prosecutors and victims’ advocates, convicting a 54-year-old unlicensed therapist who is a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg of repeatedly sexually abusing a young girl who had been sent to him for help.
“The veil of secrecy has been lifted,” said Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney. “The wall that has existed in parts of these communities has now been broken through. And as far as I’m concerned, it is very clear to me that it is only going to get better for people who are victimized in these various communities.”
The case against the therapist, Nechemya Weberman, was a significant milestone for Mr. Hynes, whose office has been criticized for not acting aggressively enough against sexual abusers in the borough’s large and politically connected ultra-Orthodox community.
These creeps are everywhere.
I’ll end with this. I love grapefruit, so I didn’t appreciate this piece at Slate: Grapefruit is disgusting. I think it was intended to be tongue in cheek, but I didn’t laugh once. Katy Waldman objects to her least favorite fruit being given as a Christmas gift.
It needs to stop. This killjoy has already invaded our breakfast routines. Its baleful pink, white, or red flesh shines from thousands of tables. Its pulp gets stuck in our teeth. Its juice stains our clothes. And now, we are asked to inflict the scourge on our relatives, shipping it off in packages of 12 or more in order to demonstrate our love?
No. Grapefruit is unwieldy, disgusting, and in some cases dangerous to eat. It is indisputably the worst fruit anyone has ever put on a plate.
A pause, now, for its partisans to bellow, “But it’s a superfood!” Grapefruit enjoys an exalted reputation, thanks in part to countless magazine stories and nutrition listicles singing its praises. It figures in fad diets, including its eponymous diet, dreamed up by Hollywood sadists. Even its scientific name, Citrus x paradisi—so called because, in 1750, naturalist Griffith Hughes dubbed grapefruit the “forbidden fruit” of the Barbados—implies that it belongs somewhere in the Garden of Eden. It does not. It belongs in the trashcan.
The Comedy Central funny man announced his intention to run for president of the “United States of America of South Carolina” at the taping of his show Thursday night and will try to compete in South Carolina’s GOP primary Jan. 21.
“I’m proud to announce I plan to form an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my candidacy,” Colbert said….
While Colbert won’t actually compete for the GOP nomination in the general election, this may give Republicans another option beyond Mitt Romney in a pivotal state. Every Republican presidential candidate since 1980 has won South Carolina’s primary.
“Clearly my fellow South Caroliniacs see me as the only Mitternative,” Colbert said.
In the first released ad by his “super” political action committee, Colbert urged Iowa voters to write in “Rick Parry” at the Ames straw poll on Saturday, suggesting in a satiric nod that he’s throwing his weight behind Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas for president.
“I called dibs on Rick Parry a long time ago,” said Colbert, who dubs himself president and assistant equipment manager for his PAC, in a statement Wednesday.
The ad, “Episode IV: A New Hope,” is a play on the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows super PACs to receive and spend unlimited amounts of money, as long as they don’t coordinate with a particular candidate.
“So to prove we’re truly uncoordinated, we’re asking voters to write in Parry with an A – as in America, IowA, or PresidAnt,” Colbert said. “You can feel confident he’s not asking us to do that.”
…the real issues with the voting might come from counting write-ins, which are being allowed for the first time this year.
Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert is openly trying to cause trouble, running television ads urging Iowans, “On August 13th write in Rick Parry — That’s Parry with an ‘A’ for America, with an ‘A’ for IowA.”
Jeff Winkler at the right wing Daily Caller blog is also *concerned.*
In two separate ads running since Thursday, the comedian urged straw poll voters to write in the fencing-inspired surname. Funny as the joke is, it could cause serious issues for Iowa officials as they count the ballots Saturday evening.
“We’re treating the straw poll as if it were any other election,” said Erin Rapp, Communications Director for the Iowa Secretary of State, the department overseeing straw poll write-in votes. “Basically, it’s up to the individual canvasser to determine the voter’s intent. You know, there could be variations of spelling in terms of name, but it’s really up to the official.”
You can watch the Colbert Super PAC’s other ad, which features “cheap cornography,” at Mother Jones.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.