Monday, September 20, 2021

Monday Reading

 

As always, please go to the links for the full articles/ op eds.

E.J. Dionne, Jr., looks at the California Republican recall bomb and Ohio Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez's rationale for not seeking reelection as potential turning points in the struggle for democracy in this country:

President Biden, call Anthony Gonzalez.

The two-term Ohio Republican congressman, who announced last week that he will not seek reelection, understands what Democrats need to grasp about the stakes in American politics right now.

One of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 riot, Gonzalez called the former president “a cancer for the country.” He told the New York Times he did not want any part of a 2022 GOP that will “make Trump the center of fund-raising efforts,” adding that “most of my political energy will be spent” preventing Trump from being president again.

For all of Biden’s honorable efforts to pull the nation together, and his earlier habit of downplaying the radical nature of today’s Republicanism, our politics remain as dangerously abnormal as Gonzalez warns. [snip]

Gonzalez’s decision in combination with the outcome of the California recall, the continuing deadly spread of the delta variant and the introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate could well mark last week as a turning point in how Democrats, including Biden, approach the next phase of political combat.

It begins by accepting that calls for unity of purpose will, for some time, continue to fall on deaf Republican ears. Biden signaled on Thursday that he accepts the new terms of the struggle. He said some Republican governors were playing “the worst kind of politics” by opposing his vaccination and testing mandates, singling out Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas.

Dionne says the combat continues with fighting Republican efforts at the state level to delegitimatize the 2020 election results as a cover to pass voter suppression laws, with passing voting rights legislation (by reforming the filibuster), and defeating Republicans at all levels in 2022 and 2024.

Pfizer is claiming its COVID vaccine, in a smaller dose, is highly effective in children as young as 5:

A lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine — one-third the amount given to adults and teens — is safe and triggered a robust immune response in children as young as 5 years old, the drug companies announced in a news release Monday morning.

The finding, eagerly anticipated by many parents and pediatricians, is a crucial step toward the two-shot coronavirus vaccine regimen becoming available for younger school-aged children, perhaps close to Halloween.

The companies still must prepare and submit the data to the Food and Drug Administration, a process they expect to complete by the end of September. Then, the data — not yet published or peer reviewed — will be scrutinized by regulators to ascertain that the vaccine is safe and effective. That could take weeks, or up to a month.

Moderna is conducting trials of vaccine efficacy for children as young as 6 months.  COVID vaccinations for children this fall are looking more and more likely.

While we haven't been hearing much about the criminal investigations into the Trump Organization, prosecutors have been busy behind the scenes:

With multiple investigations still underway, attorneys involved with the tax fraud case against former President Donald Trump's family business and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, are due back in court Monday for a hearing in New York City.

Their expected appearance at the New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan comes almost three months after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. unsealed a bevy of criminal charges that alleged the Trump Organization and Weisselberg took part in a more than 15-year scheme to defraud taxpayers by paying company executives with untaxed benefits.

Weisselberg, who has been employed by the Trump family since 1973, and the Trump Organization have pleaded not guilty to the allegations. The former president has said the case is politically motivated.

While proceedings play out in court, behind the scenes prosecutors with Vance's office have been continuing to work with New York state Attorney General Letitia James' office on an ongoing probe into Trump's business dealings in New York. There are plenty of signs that Vance and James are aggressively working on this case, including an unannounced court appearance in August by attorneys for both Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

So, too, has the criminal investigation by the Fulton County (GA) District Attorney into the malignant loser's efforts to overturn the election in Georgia been quietly progressing:

As Donald Trump returns to Georgia later this month, criminal investigators in the state have been quietly conducting interviews, collecting documents and working to build a line of communication with congressional investigators as they aim to build a case against the former President for his alleged attempts to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis kicked off her investigation with a splash earlier this year, when she fired off a round of letters to Georgia officials asking them to preserve documents related to Trump just a month after she took office.

The fact that he's still trying to get Georgia officials to re-do election results isn't going to help him in court.  Sad!

As a final note, please check out Infidel 753's link round-up to posts of interest from around the Internet. Also, take a look at his brief, but wise, observations this week!


Sunday, September 19, 2021

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Monster Star Final Acts

 

(click on images to enlarge


 




From NASA/ESA, September 13, 2021:

This comparison view shows puffing dust bubbles and an erupting gas shell — the final acts of a monster star. You can explore the detail of the nebula surrounding the star AG Carinae by using the slider tool on the image above. 

This Picture of the Week showcases new views of the dual nature of the star AG Carinae, which was the target of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s 31st anniversary image in April 2020. This new perspective was developed thanks to Hubble’s observations of the star in 2020 and 2014, along with others captured by the telescope’s WFPC2 instrument in 1994. You can compare these two new versions of AG Carinae by using the slider tool on the image above.

The first image showcases the details of the ionised hydrogen and ionised nitrogen emissions from the nebula (seen here in red). In the second image, the blue demonstrates the contrasting appearance of the distribution of the dust that shines of reflected stellar light. Astronomers believe that the dust bubbles and filaments formed within and were shaped by powerful stellar wind .

This giant star is waging a tug-of-war between gravity and radiation to avoid self-destruction. The star is surrounded by an expanding shell of gas and dust — a nebula — that is shaped by the powerful winds emanating from the star. The nebula is about five light-years wide, equal to the distance from here to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri.

AG Carinae is formally classified as a Luminous Blue Variable because it is hot (blue), very luminous, and variable. Such stars are quite rare because there are not many stars that are so massive. Luminous Blue Variable stars continuously lose mass in the final stages of their life, during which a significant amount of stellar material is ejected into the surrounding interstellar space, until enough mass has been lost that the star has reached a stable state. 

AG Carinae is surrounded by a spectacular nebula, formed by material ejected by the star during several of its past outbursts. The nebula is approximately 10 000 years old, and the observed velocity of the gas is approximately 70 kilometres per second. While this nebula looks like a ring, it is in fact a  hollow shell rich in gas and dust, the centre of which has been cleared by the powerful stellar wind travelling at roughly 200 kilometres per second. The gas (composed mostly of ionised hydrogen and nitrogen) is visible to us in these images as a thick bright red ring, which appears doubled in places — possibly the result of several outbursts colliding into each other. The dust, here visible in blue, has formed in clumps, bubbles and filaments that are shaped by the stellar wind.

Scientists who observed the star and its surrounding nebula note that the ring is not  perfectly spherical; it appears to have a bipolar symmetry, indicating that the mechanism producing the outburst may have been caused by the presence of a disc in the centre, or that the star is not alone but might have a companion (known as a binary star). An alternative and simpler theory is that the star rotates very fast (as many massive stars have been found to do).

Credit:  ESA/Hubble and NASA, A. Nota, C. Britt

 

Tweets Of The Day

 

The media's "real Americans" --

 

 

Where the Republican sociopaths are going --

 


"Justice for J6" Davy Qrackhead song -- 

 


Fixing memes --

 

 

Where's our inheritance? --

 

 

 

QOTD II -- Breaking Faith With Democracy

 

"Against this backdrop, Milley’s efforts to ensure stability until the new and legitimately elected president could take office — and avoid an illegal or unethical military action — hardly constitute a refusal to accept civilian control. On the contrary: In an impossible and unprecedented situation, Milley did his best to remain scrupulously out of the realm of politics, and he repeatedly reiterated his loyalty to the nation, its law and its Constitution — all duties higher than that of mindless obedience to a president who had clearly indicated a willingness to ignore the law.

"In a democratic society, the notion of civilian control of the military is predicated on the assumption that civilian leadership will be exercised in a lawful manner. If Milley and other military leaders sought to prevent potentially unlawful presidential actions, they weren’t breaking faith with democracy: Our democracy had already been badly broken by the highest civilian official in the land. And that’s a far different — and far bleaker — problem than a general walking the difficult line between obedience and conscience. Trump demonstrated how easily American norms and institutions could be subverted by a lawless president — and unlike Milley, millions of Americans, and scores of GOP elected officials, never even bothered to speak out." -- Rosa Brooks, law professor at Georgetown and former senior Defense Department official under President Obama, in today's Washington Post, discussing the crisis faced by Gen. Milley and other senior military officers following the Trump- led insurrection of January 6.  Contrary to the bad faith pearl- clutching about weakening of "civilian control," we should all thank Milley for serving his country in the noblest sense, unlike those who broke faith with our country's democracy in service to a lawless, malicious President willing to do almost anything to stay in power.

Meanwhile, in another part of the WaPo, the story is being treated as a point/ counterpoint exercise in normalizing the extraordinary events surrounding the election and transfer of power.  Here's the headline on the Missy Ryan piece:


"New disclosures show how Gen. Mark A. Milley tried to check Trump. They could also further politicize the military."

 

Oh, FFS, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" Post.


Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

(John Darkow, Columbia Missourian)

(Ed Hall, Artizans.com)

(Jimmy Margulies, jimmymargulies.com)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Examiner, KY)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Clay Jones, claytoonz.com)


Sunday Reflection

 



"What a man does defiles him, not what is done by others." -- Sir William Golding, in "Rites of Passage" (1980).

Nobel Prize-winning Golding's most prominent work, the classic "Lord of the Flies" (1954), is a stark and chilling story of marooned British boys eventually dispensing with "civilization" and reverting to "groupthink" and savagery. Born 110 years ago today, Golding struggled with alcoholism and associated "writer's block" later in life, but kept a diary of his dreams and recollections of his life from 1971 until his death in 1993. 

QOTD -- The "Justice For J6" Dud



"Alas, after Trump called the whole thing a 'set-up' and various groups like the Proud Boys and far-right message boards kept telling people not to go because it was a 'false flag,' not too many people showed up. Maybe like 100-150, 200 might be too generous. There isn't really much to say about it other than that. [snip]

"Think about it. These people are such paranoid conspiracy theorists that they thought that their own event to protest the arrests of their fellow paranoid conspiracy theorists was a 'false flag.' If that's the way they're going now, how are they ever going to have a public demonstration again? How are they going to trust one another? Because really, any of them could be a member of Antifa trying to make them look bad. How would they even begin to tell the difference between a member of Antifa trying to make them look bad and a QAnon supporter or Proud Boy just being themselves? How would they tell the difference between a truly devoted Trumpist who wants to overthrow the government and a secret agent trying to fit them up for a plot to overthrow the government?"--  Wonkette's Robyn Pennacchia taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the poorly attended (less than 200) paranoid loser fest billed as "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, DC, yesterday.   Losers.

(Photo:  Counter- demonstrator at the "Justice for J6" loser fest/ Peter Ugarte. AFP via Getty Pictures)


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Tweets Of The Day


The continuing delusions of the leader of the 

insurrectionists --

 


Dense Pence --

 


Need new anti- Biden/Dem narrative, stat! --


 

Frustrating another fraudit? --

 


Republican Justice Clarence "Long Dong Silver" Thomas (husband of Ginny) decries perception of politics entering into SCOTUS rulings --

 

 

Sons of Confederate Veterans Bitches --

 

 

 

Haitians Along Border Facing Deportation Home

Haitian migrants have been collecting in the thousands near Del Rio, Texas, after crossing the Rio Grande and sheltering mostly under the international bridge between Del Rio and Ciudad AcuΓ±a, Mexico. The Biden Administration is developing plans with Haiti to remove the migrants and return them to Haiti.  Many had been in Mexico following the recent earthquake and assassination of the Haitian president. Some immigration authorities believe that they may have been acting on misinformation about changing U.S. immigration policies regarding asylum for vulnerable people.

(click to enlarge)





(photos, from top: Marie De JesΓΊs / Houston Chronicle via AP, Office of Rep. Tony Gonzales / via Reuters, and Eric Gay / AP)

Who's Paying The Hospital Bills For Covidiots? Take A Guess

 

The Kaiser Family Foundation tells us that over 280,000 COVID hospitalizations between June and August of this year were preventable by vaccination.  They estimate the cost of those hospitalizations was over $5 billion. But, hey, don't worry! Their costs are largely going to be paid by us vaccinated folks:

While real-time data on the cost of all COVID-19 hospitalizations are not publicly available, various sources point to an average hospitalization cost of around $20,000. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that Medicare fee-for-service COVID-19 hospitalizations average $24,033. Another study of Medicare fee-for-service enrollees found an average COVID-19 hospitalization cost $21,752. A FAIR Health Similarly, our analysis of pre-pandemic private insurance claims for pneumonia hospitalizations with complications averaged $20,292 (though the cost for hospitalizations requiring a ventilator are much higher).

Our analysis of HHS and CDC data indicates there were 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June, 68,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, and another 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. in August, for a total of 287,000 across the three months...

If each of these preventable hospitalizations cost roughly $20,000, on average, that would mean these largely avoidable hospitalizations have already cost billions of dollars since the beginning of June.

They conclude:

The monetary cost of treating unvaccinated people for COVID-19 is borne not only by patients but also by society more broadly, including taxpayer-funded public programs and private insurance premiums paid by workers, businesses, and individual purchasers.

Only a small share of the cost of a COVID-19 hospitalization is paid directly by patients themselves. In our analysis of privately insured patients hospitalized with pneumonia, the typical out-of-pocket payment was about $1,300. Out-of-pocket costs may be higher for people based on their health insurance plan and how the COVID-19 hospitalization costs are billed. That is a significant amount for most patients to pay, but it is far less than the amount covered by public and private insurance coverage.

Kaiser doesn't have data on how many of the hospitalized unvaccinated have grievances about "society's freeloaders," socialist healthcare, gubment spending, not being entitled to an ICU bed when they goddamn need it, the stolen 2020 election, invasions of brown people, critical race theory, etc., but we'd bet a Venn diagram would show significant overlap.  That just makes this preventable misery all the more infuriating.


Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer)

(Bruce Plante, caglecartoons.com)

(Michael de Adder, Washington Post)

(Randall Enos, caglecartoons.com)

(Andy Marlette, Pensacola News-Journal, FL)

(Nick Anderson, gocomics.com)

(Mike Thompson, USA Today)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Stuart Carlson, gocomics.com)

(Tim Campbell, gocomics.com)


Insurrectionists On Parade

 

In a Washington Post op-ed, Colbert King looks at today's far-right Trumpist insurrectionist rally in Washington, D.C., and the importance of countering their efforts to corrupt future elections and bring down democracy:

"The mere idea of people coming to town to hail insurrectionists charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion as 'patriots' is as profane as it is insane. But this is where America finds itself at this stage in the 'big lie' campaign, which holds that twice-impeached, soundly defeated former president Donald Trump was cheated out of reelection.

It is, however, the pernicious and sinister intent of the liars — not their staged protests — that poses the real threat, which is no less than a slur on democracy.

That makes the work of the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack of paramount importance. The peaceful transfer of power was threatened by the Trump-inspired rampage. His 'big lie' as CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reports, has spawned nationwide Republican efforts to change election laws to make it more difficult to vote, spurred Republican crackdowns on election officials who are doing their jobs, and provided ammunition to conspiracy theorists inclined to take matters in their own hands."  (our emphasis)

A far smaller cohort of the January 6 domestic terrorists are expected in Washington today, objecting to the justice being meted out for those who rioted, and implicitly celebrating their attempted overthrow of the 2020 election in order to install a mentally ill demagogue who clearly lost the election. However, in far greater numbers in state capitols and school board meeting across the nation, the domestic terrorists work continues to undermine democracy and force their toxic policies on the majority.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Tweets Of The Day

 

Obligations and accountability --


 

 

 

 

Bad faith, bigoted Republicans (Rep. Matt Rosendale 

edition) --


 

Debunking vaccine mandate myths --

 

 

Our thoughts, too --

 

 

 

QOTD -- A Willingness To Let The Country Fail

 

"... Consider the news this week that now one in five hundred Americans has died in the pandemic; total deaths in the country approach seven hundred thousand. What’s worse, covid deaths—the vast majority of them preventable, avoidable deaths, now that science and the federal government have provided us with free vaccines—are continuing to rise across large swaths of vaccine-resistant Trump country. This is not a tragic mistake but a calculated choice by many Republicans who have made vaccine resistance synonymous with resistance to Biden and the Democrats. The current average of more than nineteen hundred dead a day means that a 9/11’s worth of Americans are perishing from covid roughly every thirty-eight hours. To my mind, this is the biggest news of the Biden Presidency so far, and it has nothing to do with Afghanistan, or the fate of the budget-reconciliation bill, or Bob Woodward’s new book.  [snip]

"The G.O.P.’s desire to see Biden fail has become a willingness to let the country fail. Nine months into Biden’s Presidency, the bottom line is that the Republican war on Biden’s legitimacy and the war on Biden’s covid policies are now inextricably linked. The consequences of this are so hard to contemplate that we often do not do so: a politics so broken that it is now killing Americans on an industrial scale." -- Susan Glasser in The New Yorker, writing about the nihilistic Trump Republican Party and many in its knuckle- dragging base who have always placed their race/ party above country.  That's why so many of those same people -- who will never admit the legitimacy of Democratic/ democratic governance-- are prepared to die very horribly on that sub- moronic hill.

Texas Governor Abbott's "Wall"

 

Texas' pandering, misogynist, far-right Trump toady governor Greg Abbott has a lot going for him, but not in a good way. He's the instigator for the new law that strips women's reproductive rights, in the Trumpist "voter fraud" movement to rig future elections by suppressing non-Republican voters, and in the fight to expand COVID through resistance to mask mandates and vaccinations, among other abominations. In the last instance, he has created a crisis in hospital care in his state with mounting COVID infections and deaths. The Lincoln Project's new ad rips him for his central role in that avoidable disaster.