Monday Reads: More, more, more of the same

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s finally warmed up around here again!  I’m still thinking about all of our Sky Dancers–including BB–that got slammed by that wicked snowstorm over the weekend.  I hope it’s melting faster than the wicked witch of the west after that bucket of water hit her!

We’re gearing up for Mardi Gras. I’m still hoping that turns out okay but I’m not going to head someplace and wallow in crowds that likely include folks from the plague rat states and our surrounding rural areas.  I know the city needs the cash and folks need jobs but still, I fret.

There are now two Republican governors who have openly decided to diss a Trump second run for the Presidency.  That happens while Susan Collins dithers. Ron DeSantis is getting a little feisty too.  It seriously couldn’t happen to a better crowd of turncoats.  This is from the New York Times: “Trump’s Grip on G.O.P. Faces New Strains. Shifts in polls of Republicans, disagreements on endorsements and jeers over vaccines hint at daylight between the former president and the right-wing movement he spawned.” It’s written by Shane Goldmacher.

About halfway into his Texas rally on Saturday evening, Donald J. Trump pivoted toward the teleprompter and away from a meandering set of grievances to rattle off a tightly prepared list of President Biden’s failings and his own achievements.

“Let’s simply compare the records,” Mr. Trump said, as supporters in “Trump 2024” shirts cheered behind him, framed perfectly in the television shot.

Mr. Trump, who later went on to talk about “that beautiful, beautiful house that happens to be white,” has left increasingly little doubt about his intentions, plotting an influential role in the 2022 midterm elections and another potential White House run. But a fresh round of skirmishes over his endorsements, fissures with the Republican base over vaccines — a word Mr. Trump conspicuously left unsaid at Saturday’s rally — and new polling all show how his longstanding vise grip on the Republican Party is facing growing strains.

In Texas, some grass-roots conservatives are vocally frustrated with Mr. Trump’s backing of Gov. Greg Abbott, even booing Mr. Abbott when he took the stage. In North Carolina, Mr. Trump’s behind-the-scenes efforts to shrink the Republican field to help his preferred Senate candidate failed last week. And in Tennessee, a recent Trump endorsement set off an unusually public backlash, even among his most loyal allies, both in Congress and in conservative media.

The most appalling Trump event speech hit when Orange Caligula offered up pardons to his insurrectionists.

As I’ve mentioned before, the artists who design and construct the parade floats are simply amazing.Design for Proteus Parade Float, 1906, by Bror Anders Wikstrom

This is from the CBS link above.

The Justice Department is navigating unique and profound logistical problems with its January 6 cases. The D.C. federal courthouse remains closed to jury trials through at least February 7, due to COVID risks. Most hearings are occurring virtual, through Zoom and phone connections. But trials must occur in person inside the courthouse, which is a short walk from the U.S. Capitol.

The agency is also trying to corral an unprecedented avalanche of evidence. The U.S. Capitol riot prosecution, which the agency has characterized as one of the largest criminal cases in U.S. history, is saturated with tips and possible evidence.

In a series of recent court filings, the Justice Department said there are 14,000 hours of Capitol surveillance video, 250 terabytes of data and more than 200,000 tips from the public. Along with a growing collection of social media posts, phone videos and witness interviews, federal prosecutors are trying to manage and organize a growing tower of evidence and materials.

This week, the agency notified a judge there is still “work to do” in preparing the evidence for the court, defense lawyers, defendants and trial.

“This investigation has generated an enormous amount of evidence,” the Justice Department said in a court filing Thursday, as part of its request for a time extension in the case of a defendant from New Jersey.

Judges have set some trial dates, including in the high-profile cases against accused OathKeepers conspirators. Some of those trials are scheduled to begin in April, while others are expected in July and September. The later dates include defendants charged with seditious conspiracy, some of whom are in pretrial detention.

CBS News has learned approximately 40 defendants in January 6 cases are in pretrial detention in the Washington, D.C., jail, some of whom have spent nearly a year behind bars, without firm trial dates. Judges have said the cases involving defendants in pretrial custody should be prioritized for the earlier trial dates.

Could a president pardon people involved in a crime he incited?  Remember, Nixon secretly promised pardons to the Watergate instigators and those active in the cover-up. Haldeman eventually asked for a pardon.   Nixon, however, would’ve directly implicated himself in the crime and he resigned quickly after the request.

Trump, however, is openly offering pardons. This is from The Guardian: Trump pardon promise for Capitol rioters ‘stuff of dictators’ – Nixon aide.”

John Dean, 83, was White House counsel from 1970 to 1973 before being disbarred and detained as a result of the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Dean responded to Trump on Twitter.

“This is beyond being a demagogue to the stuff of dictators,” he wrote. “He is defying the rule of law. Failure to confront a tyrant only encourages bad behaviour. If thinking Americans don’t understand what Trump is doing and what the criminal justice system must do we are all in big trouble!”

Trump was generous with pardons in office, recipients including Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, both now targets of the House committee investigating January 6 and with Trump in its sights. On Sunday morning, the New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu, widely seen as a relative moderate in Trump’s Republican party, was asked if pardons should be offered to Capitol rioters.

“Of course not,” he told CNN’s State of the Union. “Oh, my goodness. No.”

Even Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and dogged Trump ally, said the former president was wrong.

“I don’t want to send any signals that it was OK to defile the Capitol,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation. “I want to deter what people did on January 6, and those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.”

But a moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, indicated the hold Trump has on the party.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, the senator said Trump should not “have made that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed.”

But Collins, who voted to convict Trump over the Capitol attack, would not say that she would not support him if he ran for president again.

“Well certainly it’s not likely given the many other qualified candidates that we have, that have expressed interest in running,” she said. “So it’s very unlikely.”

Dither away, Susan.  We see you.

We need people to fight all this Trumpism in the trenches of Main Street.  I found this article in TNR to be invigorating.

These folks–retired election auditors–protected the Arizona election results.  We may need more like them throughout many states.

Trump’s agents were plotting to fabricate a favorable vote count. But they were stymied by their vast inexperience in elections. As important, they were boxed in at key junctures by three retired election technologists who used public records to hold them accountable. The trio warned the pro-Trump contractors and their legislative sponsors that their “audit” was being watched, repeatedly reported why it was a propaganda-filled hoax, and gradually won local and national press coverage.

Most strikingly, it was the technologists—not Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, nor Democratic Party lawyers, experts in policy circles and academia, or journalists—who showed that tens of thousands of loyal Republican voters from Phoenix’s suburbs did not vote for Trump. That pattern alone, based on hard data, confirmed his loss in Arizona.

The retirees did more. They rebutted the lie from Trump’s noisemakers that tens of thousands of dead people and made-up people voted, by pairing every ballot cast with a legal voter. They showed that there was no collusion to alter vote counts when local election officials reviewed sloppily marked ballots to determine a voter’s intent, again using public data that tracked the officials’ actions.

And months after Arizona Senate Republicans hired the Cyber Ninjas, a data security firm led by a Trump cultist with no experience in elections, to oversee its 2020 election review in Maricopa County (greater Phoenix), the retirees boxed the Ninjas into revealing that they could not accurately recount votes—again using public records. That strategy culminated last September, when Cyber Ninja CEO Doug Logan testified that Biden had won Arizona, after all.

Read more at the link.

So, I have to adult today.  I can no longer be completely feral as I’ve got places to go outside my neighborhood where they are used to me. I may even cut my hair again!  Y’all take care and be safe if you’re going to venture out.  The Covid-19 numbers are not looking good. Oh, btw my less evil Senator did something positive with Senator Tammy Baldwin today so I sent him a nice note.

This is the most disturbing news.  I would just like to say Fuck you to all those anti-Vaxxers.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

And just a small tribute to Neil Young who lived as a child with polio and epilepsy and whose children all have challenging diseases present from childhood. His daughter has epilepsy and his two sons have cerebral palsy. This comes from his album Trans.  The music was to help Young communicate with his youngest son who could not speak. Young has a foundation to help children live with long-term health disabilities. I have left Spotify.


Monday Reads: Dystopian SyFy and the Trump Legacy

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m having a tough time getting started today on things.  BB and I’ve been talking about the weirdish dreams I’ve been having the last few years with a fairly constant theme although changing setting.  Now, I read just about every dystopian science fiction novel as a kid that I could get my hands on.  And, that habit has pretty much continued up to the onset of my social security years. But, why is it just recently that I keep thinking my home is located somewhere in a mall of some kind from which I never go outside?  It’s filled with even stranger people.

Part of it might be due to the invasion of the hipster gentrifiers in my neighborhood coupled with a decaying abandoned Navy Base that was key to get sailors to both World War 1 and 2 theatres.  It’s now filled with a ton of the region’s opioid-addicted who live off rag-picking trash cans and scrapping metal wherever they can get it.  It’s also next to a detail shop turned hipster hangout bar where tourists come for something that doesn’t resemble a New Orleans experience at all. So, it’s a one-stop drug, and booze yourself into oblivion gateway.  It seems to be a popular place to film porn these days too. Folks come all the way from Atlanta to do that.

Then there are those addicts that commit crimes like petty theft or burglary or busting into homes that appear to be abandoned to set up camp.  All of that is really dystopian, believe me.  Plus, the weather keeps getting looking more climate-impaired all the time.  Plus, I let a friend escape a violent marriage who has been here for over 6 years and came with a drug problem, PTSD, and severe brain damage.   She now calls me a “vaccine bully” as I struggle to reason with her about why she needs to get the Fauci Ouchi while telling me that it might change my DNA so fully I could become a zombie. No, she’s not a Trumper, but it frequently sounds like she could be.

I still think there’s something about the Trumpist regime and its cult that really tripped these dreams into me, although I have no dear leader in any of them.  Just simply, people living in airports or shopping malls, or other semi-functional artifices of the 20th century.  I’ve had doozies of them the last two nights.

So, when I read this headline in Salon, I thought, well, maybe it’s not just my anxiety running away with my sleep.  From Salon: “Dr. John Gartner on America after Trump: “Dystopian science fiction … is actually happening”. Former Johns Hopkins professor on the aftermath of Trump’s coup — and whether he was a Russian stooge after all.”

If Trump had successfully ordered the United States military to keep him in power by usurping the will of the American people, the result could well have been a second American Civil War. The nation was saved from such an outcome, at least for the moment, through good fortune and the choices of a few real patriots such as Gen. Milley and his allies.

Unfortunately, Trumpism was not routed or finally defeated, and the Trump coup is ongoing. Trump remains in firm control of the Republican Party. At least 30 percent of the American people have been seduced by the Big Lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.

The Jim Crow Republicans are escalating their war on multiracial democracy by proposing laws in numerous states designed to stop Black and brown people and others who support the Democratic Party from voting. The end goal of this anti-democratic campaign is to turn the United States into a plutocratic theocratic fascist state where dissent is not allowed and the Trump-Republican Party rules uncontested.

In a recent interview on MSNBC, historian Timothy Snyder, author of the bestselling book “On Tyranny,” described this state of peril: “A failed coup is practice for a successful coup. … We’re now working within the framework of a Big Lie … so long as we’re in that framework of a Big Lie, we can expect one of the parties to try to rig the system.”

Like other fascist and fake populist movements, Trumpism draws its power and a type of life force from the slavish loyalty of Trump’s followers. Normal politics is fundamentally ill-equipped to grapple with fascism and its commands to ignore reality in deference to the Great Leader, the elevation of that leader into a type of God and extension of the self, and its collective celebration of narcissism and other anti-social behavior including violence and hatred. Ultimately, Trumpism is a cult movement: If Trump and other leaders are the brain and the arms, Trump’s followers serve as a hammer meant to smash multiracial democracy.

From The Daily Beast and Molly Jung-Fast: “As a twice-impeached, one-term historical freak show of a president, his only hope is to turn his movement into a cult, worshipping himself. It’s the Trump Steaks of religion.”

Seriously, literally, this is a cult.

Donald Trump, who regrets not ordering the White House flag to be flown at half-staff to mourn Ashli Babbitt, the rioter and Qanon believer killed while storming the U.S. Capitol, is determined to create a narrative that his idiot insurrectionists are in fact part of an army of holy MAGA warriors.

“I would venture to say it was the largest crowd I had ever spoken before… It was a loving crowd too, by the way. Many, many people have told me that was a loving crowd. It was too bad, it was too bad that they did that” Trump said in one of his post-presidency interviews from Mar-a-Lago. He didn’t mention the violence, but insisted that, “In all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in… They were hugging and kissing. You don’t see that. There’s plenty of tape of that.”

You don’t see that tape because that didn’t happen, but that’s the point of this cult: Never mind your lying eyes, have faith in your Dear Orange Leader.

“Personally, what I wanted is what they wanted,” he concluded, meaning to overturn the results of the election because he’d said there was fraud and never mind all of the judges appointed by Republicans and Republican state and election officials who said there was no evidence of any of that. Heretics. The GOP is dead, and there’s only the MAGA movement now, as the party’s “leaders” sojourn to his sacred golf clubs to confess their sins.

I know a lot of this has its roots in the absolute abandonment of reason to the politicization of white American evangelicism to the point you hardly recognize the “christ” in their “Christianity.” Grifters of a feather flock together. This is also from Salon: “How evangelicals abandoned Christianity — and became “conservatives” instead. As an evangelical pastor for many years, I saw faith in Jesus Christ gradually replaced by right-wing ideology. I watched this happen when Pat Robertson brought his presidential campaign to small Iowa towns.  Since then, the Republican party has never been the same, although it’s been on the road to reinstating Jim Crow since Nixon’s Southern Strategy.  It was logical they’d follow along.  This is written by Nathaniel Manderson, who is no stranger to that Journey.

Over the last 70 years, Christian theology has been steadily replaced, within the evangelical world, by Republican or “conservative” ideology. I noticed this in my time at an evangelical seminary and during my years in ministry, whenever political discussion would go beyond abortion and gay rights. When the conversation turned towards gun rights, immigration, taxing the wealthy, education or health care, the tenets of Christian theology disappeared behind Republican talking points.

The evangelical political message was that the Bible should be used in politics to attack certain people, but never to question oneself. That’s how you get people to donate: Make the enemy clearly visible and easily definable. That’s why the Bible is almost never used in politics as a justification for serving the poor, welcoming the foreigner, healing the sick or promoting equality. That agenda is not likely to motivate donations from wealthy white heterosexual men.  Therefore, over time the evangelical message became that “American” and “Republican” were more important labels than “Christian” — or that they were effectively the same thing.

They may have loved Dubya–who they recognized as part of the flock–, but they worship Trump as the one that will do anything for ultimate power, attention, and money.  He has fully embraced the right-wing culture wars, so the sheeple just found their shepherd no matter his behavior or demeanor or outward displays of mean exclusivity.

Plus, the DOJ under Merrick Garland continues to disappoint.

This is getting ridiculous.

So, anyway, I’m watching a few other stories, but it really seems like there’s a lot of inaction on some pretty important things right now. But then, it’s summer, and everyone is out spreading Covid-19 again. Stay safe! The variants are stewing and brewing and out there!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?