Trash Talk: Not Exactly Favre-nügen

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Yes, I am a widow.

I’ve been a golf widow since the first week of April when the grass was greening but still too short to cut, but long enough to bear the weight of golfers.

I am now widowed twice over because said golfer hangs in the clubhouse after 18 holes to watch every sport on all the big screens lining the clubhouse walls.

At least I have a month to plan the golfer’s resurrection after the last golf outing the first week of November.

Damn it. I forgot about deer season. I guess I have two months of planning woodworking and painting projects to keep him busy until the cycle begins again next April.

~ ~ ~

Last weekend when the widow-maker spouse came home from watching post-golf football he was far too happy. He launched into a paean to the Detroit Lions. I pissed him off by replying, “You mean the perpetual losing Lions?”

“But they won!” he sputtered.

Two games does not a season make. I know better than to get my hopes up this early.

Apparently the sputterer is not alone: 2 analysts are already talking playoffs for Detroit Lions

The Lions may be up 14-0 as I type this but I am still not ready to believe.

~ ~ ~

I doubt I will see the sputtering undead golfer before the end of the Tampa Bay-Green Bay game which begins at 4:25 p.m. ET. Plenty of time to figure out what to serve for dinner to a guy who’s fallen deeply into the 19th hole.

Give me Aaron Rogers over Tom Brady and the non-profit, community-owned team versus the corporate team.

I won’t bother to argue the relative merits of either team; in truth the Green Bay Packers are a family favorite because of a family member who lives in Milwaukee area and is a superfan of the Pack. We’re really rooting for them to have a good Sunday.

~ ~ ~

Last but not least, that POS Brett Favre and his bullshit corruption, insisting on redirecting welfare money to university sports. He doesn’t have the morals to fess up to the public and do right by the state of Mississippi.

Remember the college admissions scandal, particularly that surrounding actor Lori Loughlin and her spouse who paid bribes to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as members of the rowing team though neither student ever rowed? Loughlin and her spouse were arrested, prosecuted, and served time; Loughlin also paid tuition for other students as amends.

But Favre pressed state officials to use Mississippi welfare funds to build a volleyball facility for his daughter to use at his alma mater…and nothing.

Or at least nothing has happened to Favre, while former head of Mississippi Department of Human Services, John Davis, pled guilty to federal and state charges related to misuse of funds including those on behalf of Favre.

It’s not as if there weren’t text messages released which show Favre knew the misallocation was wrong.

One might even come away thinking Favre conspired to launder the money

The capper on all of this has been the ridiculous amount of attention the sports media sector paid to another sports ‘scandal’ this week, when Boston Celtics’ head coach Ime Udoka admitted to engaging in a consensual relationship with an employee working for the same team, resulting in a season-long suspension for Udoka.

Favre’s corruption received much less attention in comparison.

Meanwhile people outside the state ask why Mississippi’s capital city, Jackson, has such tremendous problems with its water system.

Can’t imagine why.

~ ~ ~

Just a head’s up that this thread will be an overflow catch-all this week, assuming we don’t have too many other posts between now and the scheduled House January 6 Committee hearing on the 28th.

You might want to bookmark this for all non-hearing chatter.

[Photo: Emily Morter via Unsplash]

Open Thread: Would You Fly to Dulles Wearing Golf Shoes?

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I’m throwing up a post for an open thread because community members are restless and twitchy tonight and appear to need an outlet.

Oddly enough, there’s a current event about which folks can speculate and yammer to their hearts’ content:

Apparently Trump was driven to the NJ airport from Bedminster and then flew to Dulles in Washington DC. The photo George Conway mentions was allegedly taken at a distance at Dulles.

I suspect a fair amount of snark about this episode may be unleashed.

But did Goldfinger fly in his golf shoes, Michael?

ADDER – 11:59 PM:

There’s video here of his motorcade headed to the airport at Morristown NJ. Sandi Bachom who shares this video has filmed a lot of material over the years about Trump.

This is a short video of Trump’s arrival at Dulles. There are suitcases unloaded and shifted to another vehicle. Trump is dressed far more casually than he usually is when traveling.

There have been folks who’ve speculated Trump may have need health care at Walter Reed, but others have observed he wasn’t headed in that direction.

It’s a mystery; Trump rarely does anything without big fanfare because he needs narcissistic supply.

Okay, have at it. Do your worst in this thread. Do NOT pollute other threads with idle chatter about whatever this is.

Do keep in mind in the age of social media-borne influence operations this could be a put-on of some sort.

Regina Mortua Est, Vivat Rex

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

The following message was issued by Britain’s Royal Family:

Even in the U.S. which threw off the British monarchy 246 years ago, the media will be flooded with coverage of the 96-year-old queen’s life and death. Reigning more than 70 years, Elizabeth of the House of Windsor has been the only reigning British monarch nearly all Americans can remember until now.

Condolences to those who mourn her passing.

Her eldest son Charles ascends to the throne with his mother’s death though it’s not clear if he will be known as Charles III or take another name.

Over the last 24 hours the royal family had flown to Balmoral, Scotland where Elizabeth had been staying when her physicians expressed concern about her health.

Elizabeth had appeared frail when she greeted UK’s new prime minister Liz Truss on Tuesday at Balmoral.

Acknowledging the new prime minister may have been Elizabeth’s last significant official act as queen.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

~ ~ ~

I am not a royalist. Britain in particular inflicted enormous challenges on my father’s forebears. Many colonized people, most Black and/or indigenous persons of color, will feel less than sentimental at the passing of the figurehead of a monarchy which seized, occupied, oppressed their people and lands.

While I feel for Elizabeth as a woman caught in history’s grip, a mother whose children and grandchildren have like most humans been mixed parts successful and failing, I can’t celebrate her reign. Even though the head of a constitutional monarchy, she had power she did not use as she could have to alleviate the suffering of former colonies let alone her own people. She did too little to assure her country was prepared to meet the future.

I will mourn instead the opportunities squandered.

May her eldest son have the courage to seize what power he now has to do better by his people and the colonies which once formed the British empire. May he do more and better at cleaning out the House of Windsor.

What is left of the United Kingdom in the wake of hard Brexit and Boris Johnson’s corrupt and feckless leadership will need whatever guidance Charles Rex can muster as his nation heads into one of its grimmest winters ever.

A Republic, If You Can Keep It

I’ve thought so often this last two weeks about Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

These two paragraphs in particular, which I’ve shared in a past Fourth of July post, are more gripping than ever:

… What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. …

What, to the American woman — especially women of color and impoverished women — is this Fourth of July?

This nation’s gross injustice and cruelty has always been obvious to people of color; the amount and frequency has fluctuated over the nation’s history but it has always been present. That we can name names now like murdered Minnesotan George Floyd has been both a horror and a blessing; the general public can now see what has been less visible. We have been in a position to begin to address it.

But the American public’s attention has been shifted by the COVID pandemic, horribly managed under the Trump administration with the likely intent to hurt BIPOC the most because of their concentration in blue states. The anti-vax and anti-mask propaganda may have hurt majority white communities, too, but their access to health care has been far better than in majority-minority communities, nor has this propaganda’s COVID fallout changed how red states vote.

The American public’s attention has been shifted once again, this time by the Supreme Court’s absurd opinions from states’ ability to regulate guns to recolonization of Native American nation’s lands, to women’s bodily autonomy, to the nation’s ability to regulate CO2 and other emissions.

What is this Fourth of July now that women of childbearing age no longer have the ability to move freely across the U.S. without concern for their personal welfare? They can no longer be assured their health care is private from either the federal or states’ government. They can’t be certain they can seek health care and not be treated with the same level of consideration as their male counterparts since some states may have deputized individuals (including health care workers from doctors to janitors) to report their reproductive health care status.

Women of this same age group can’t be certain they will be saved from death if they have an ectopic pregnancy which bursts — and in the age of COVID, some drugs used to treat the virus may increase the chances of ectopic pregnancy.

This nation’s ongoing gross injustice and cruelty was flagrantly obvious in the case of the 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio, who by virtue of a matter of days could not receive an abortion in her home state and instead had to go to Indiana.

It is beyond cruel and inhumane to place a child at risk of mortality by insisting they carry their rapist’s spawn to term. In this country the risk of maternal mortality approaches one in 3000 pregnancies — it’s like the rapist, SCOTUS’s conservative majority, and Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislature playing Russian roulette for the duration of every unwanted pregnancy with worse odds for a child forced to carry to term, a form of sustained terror.

Indiana’s state legislature is already debating anti-abortion legislation which would make a flight from Ohio to Indiana for rape and incest victims seeking abortion impossible.

What is this Fourth of July to this victimized child and others like her who will suffer the same and worse injustice thanks to an unelected and irrational SCOTUS’s conservative majority?

~ ~ ~

What are these hollow celebrations to Native Americans whose autonomy has been recognized under federal law and treaties for more than two hundred but has now been violated as their lands were with SCOTUS’s decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta?

There have been discussions about the availability of reproductive services on Native Americans’ lands after the Dobbs’ decision. But if this same SCOTUS has now penetrated tribal lands to allow states to exercise policing in the name of public safety, are any women white, BIPOC, or Native Americans on their own nations’ land secure in their persons from incursions by states?

~ ~ ~

It will not stop with cruelty and injustice for women of childbearing age. Americans who need birth control are already at risk as well as American couples in same-sex relationships and marriages. We can thank Clarence Thomas for this much: he did spell out the next targets this current SCOTUS will attack now that the unenumerated right to privacy for Americans has been arbitrarily stripped from them.

What is this Fourth of July and the next, to as much as 70 percent of this nation who are women, people in need of birth control, persons who are non-binary in relationships?

~ ~ ~

But again, I think of of Douglass’s speech, made in 1852 before abolition of slavery with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Though blunt about the young nation’s failings toward Black persons, Douglass used the word ‘hope’ and ‘hopefully’ seven times in his speech.

“…There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon.

I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. …”

Hope is not an easy thing when one is under constant threat of enslavement and death simply because they had the luck to be born with a particular skin color to a particular group of people. Yet Douglass had it, as have the BIPOC people of this nation who have had to resist and persevere through many waves of progress and regression.

Douglass could see a trend which fed his hopes, writing,

…my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. …

This trend remains, obvious in the response of democratic nations toward Russia’s assault on Ukraine intent on overthrowing a sovereign autonomous people. This attack will not succeed; it has already failed in many ways by encouraging more cohesion between other democracies including Finland and Sweden’s intent to join NATO. It has failed by exposing how hollowed out and threadbare Russia has become, eaten away by the kleptocratic forces which emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The increased solidarity of democracies relied on regressive action and thought, stripping away the fuzziness of economics and culture, distilling the choice: violence against a sovereign autonomous democratic nation will not be accepted by other free, autonomous, democratic nations which will unify to support defense against such an illegitimate attack.

What must happen now within our own states is another regression — not that of the current SCOTUS conservatives’ majority’s thinking, but one which should be familiar.

I wrote four years ago during the Trump administration, after posting a copy of the Declaration of Independence:

The signatories to this document knew they also signed their death warrant. They debated this document thoroughly, understanding their lives, fortunes, and possibly the same of friends and family were staked on the success of the undertaking launched by this declaration (“corruption of blood” in family’s case, which so concerned the founders it was cited later in the Constitution’s Article III).

They staked blood and treasure for their thoughts and beliefs that the colonies must be free. The least we can do is remember this bravery and consider our own willingness to fight for this American democracy.

When asked in 1787 at the end of the Constitution Convention what form of government had been created, Ben Franklin answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What will we do to keep it?

We must regress and think once again upon the intent of the founders if we are to regain our progress. We can’t keep a government whose power is derived from the people and its elected representatives if we do not demand the Republican Form of Government guaranteed to us under Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution unless we embrace the hope and faith in ourselves as a majority to do so.

It wasn’t fear which drove the founders to write that guarantee, but a sincere belief that a republic could be assured by its own citizens.

It is not a republic when a government erases the rights of its citizens — especially a majority of its citizens which women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ represent.

It is this failure which must be addressed; organized, focused, collective effort is needed to this end. Fear will only undermine the work to be done. Naysayers and doom-mongers must be ignored, their demoralization pushed aside.

By you he meant we, the people, when Franklin described the new nation’s government.

This remains a Republic, if we together can keep it.

~ ~ ~

Further reading:

The Necessity of Hope
Things are bad. They will get worse. But despair has never been an option.
By Rebecca Traister, The Cut – New York Magazine, June 24, 2022

These cursed United States
‘It’s time to be brave. Fear is not a plan.’
By Jared Holt, Sh!tpost, July 4, 2022

“Chile got out from under an actual dictator using peaceful means. …”
A Twitter thread
By Terry Kanefield, July 3, 2022

Open Thread: Summer Sunday Afternoon

It’s a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a three-day holiday weekend. We’re all feeling the weight of the last several weeks’ horrors along with oppressive heat and humidity depending on where you live.

It’s a good afternoon to kick back and sip something cold while cracking open a beach read or a book you’ve put aside for a slow day. We deserve and need the relaxation.

~ ~ ~

“Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth…It has no day.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

~ ~ ~

“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered…sealed away for opening on a January day with snow falling fast and the sun unseen for weeks…”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

~ ~ ~

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.”
― Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

~ ~ ~

What are your summer reads? I’m working on Carol Leonnig’s Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service while I dog sit for my kids.

Tony Ornato appears several times in this text, by the way.

I think I may have made a mistake, though, choosing this text to read while caring for these two canines who are a lot like my kids — one is serious and mildly anxious, the other is as uncontrolled as an 11-month-old Aussie Shepherd mix can be and as smart but ADHD as their owner.

Not a good combo under my care when our white trash neighbors give in to their annual not-to-local-code zeal for fireworks. I don’t have any CBD for dogs on hand to give the jittery rat terrier-spaniel mix or the spastic Aussie when the sun sets and the neighbors’ first firecrackers are lit.

You may imagine me later this evening experimenting with white noise applications until I find one that works for dogs and fireworks. Hope for the best.

I’ll get as far as I can in the mean time while the dogs continue to loll about in the grass beneath the shade of my maple tree.

This is an open thread. Talk about your beach reads, or barbeque, or what not.

Three Things: Something Truck-ed This Way Comes

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If you’re not white you’re not surprised at expressions of hate in our society. There are frequent demonstrations in the form of microaggressions white folks often miss.

Sometimes they’re more obvious, like racist tagging on buildings or even more obvious like the noose once left in a friend’s front yard tree, or direct confrontation experienced by another friend and their family who trapped in their car by racists yelling at them and beating on their vehicle. Many of these expressions never make the local news and might not even be reported to police for fear of making things worse.

But overt signs of hate, the kind to which even white people notice and take exception, didn’t appear as frequently in the news until Donald Trump took the White House.

Now increasingly everyone can see the wretchedness out in the open, waving its stars and bars, screaming hateful epithets at persons who aren’t cis-het white.

Like the insurrectionists waving Confederate flags outside and in the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

Like the neo-Nazis’ demonstration in Orlando, Florida this past February.

And then the usual Republican DARVO response – Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender – when confronted with these hateful expressions.

In February, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ aide Christina Pushaw accused the Democrats of being neo-Nazis followed by DeSantis playing victim by accusing Democrats of smearing him about the neo-Nazis.

Yet nothing about DeSantis’ office’s response discouraged another future demonstration with attacks on passersby.

The hate’s all out there in the open – and it’s escalating.

It’s no longer restraining itself to minorities, either; it may also be a component of hybrid warfare intent on demoralizing a substantive number of Americans while embedding and normalizing itself in our communities.

~ 3 ~

On Saturday evening December 4, 2021, a white nationalist group — the Patriot Front (PF) — gathered in Washington DC and paraded in numbers along the Mall before hopping into U-Haul trucks and driving away.

The group is a spin-off from Vanguard America which took part in the hate rally in Charlottesville VA in 2017.

PF has had numerous pop-up events; the Anti-Defamation League has documented their activity across the country from propaganda to rallies. The December 4 event was in the same vein.

There were many calls to avoid giving this fascist organization any air time, and more calls to ridicule them as unserious.

… This weekend in Washington, a ridiculous white supremacist boys club called Patriot Front dressed up in matching outfits to make themselves look like menacing middle managers of an electronics store. They got their white nationalist flags and their little shields and their khakis and their shin guards and they marched from the Lincoln Memorial down the national mall in what was supposed to be a white supremacist show of force in the nation`s capital. …

(source: Rachel Maddow, MSNBC )

But the December 4 event should have given us pause, especially 11 months after the January 6 Capitol Building insurrection.

— PF didn’t have a permit for their demonstration;

— They amassed a large number of participants in a short time with little-to-no advance notice to the public;

— They used at least one smoke bomb during their demonstration;

— Their rally took place in the same area the insurrectionists gathered and traveled from the January 6 speeches at the Ellipse to the Capitol Building;

— Police presence was a fraction of the number of PF rally attendees, with many on bikes;

— It was difficult to tell whether police were protecting or monitoring PF attendees.

Not only were folks left of center insisting PF’s rally not be treated as a valid expression of dissent, but they encouraged laughing at their normcore appearance which included not only khaki pants and ball caps but white neck gaiter masks.

Where have we seen so many white men wearing white fabric masks over their faces not to prevent infection but to hide identity while displaying a unified identity?

The December 4 event and other earlier PF events like this one may have looked performative, like costume players merely dressing as contemporary fascists, but the entire effort made a point and may have been proof-of-concept for some other future effort.

In other words, what’s to stop another group which is armed from beginning an assault on Washington DC in exactly the same way?

Enclosed box trucks show up, their contents not visible to anyone on the street including law enforcement; the occupants jump out wearing similar outfits and shields but this time concealing firearms and other weapons; they march to their intended destination and deploy a smoke bomb at first to mask another explosive device or to mask their weapons.

On December 4 they made it clear they could do this.

I’d have been less worried about these normcore shock troops but persons with more expertise have likewise expressed concern.

~ 2 ~

All of the above I wrote months ago, beginning a draft in December after the PF event in D.C., revising the draft after yet another PF rally on January 8, 2022 when PF participated in the March for Life anti-abortion rally in Chicago IL.

Clearly I should have published what I had at the time, ahead of yesterday’s arrest of 31 PF members in Coeur d’Alene ID for conspiracy to riot at a scheduled Pride parade.

Though Coeur d’Alene police were in contact with federal law enforcement, it was CADPD which handled the arrest and charging of the PF members.

Only one person of the 31 arrested was from Idaho; the rest were from across the U.S. — Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, and Arkansas — though the bulk were from West and Midwest states.

Like the December 4, 2021 PF rally in DC, CADPD found PF brought riot gear, one smoke grenade, shin guards and shields.

No firearms have been mentioned in any reports, but this event could have been bad had PF arrived and violence triggered if locals were carrying weapons.

There have been no federal charges, yet; it’s not clear if any federal laws were broken. Traveling across state lines might be a factor.

It’d be easy to brush this off as just another stunt by cosplayers on a sunny summer Saturday afternoon, except the number of events like this and the corresponding propaganda by PF have exploded.

(source: ADL report: White Supremacist Propaganda Spikes in 2020)

More than 80% of that uptick was PF’s work. Where are they going with this besides demoralizing much of the country?

~ 1 ~

There’s been some confusion in left-of-center social media about Patriot Front and the Proud Boys, some mistaking one for the other. They are different groups with overlapping if not identical ideologies.

Patriot Front

Proud Boys

Launched: 2017 (spun off from Vanguard) Launched: 2016
Ideology:

  • Patriot Front is a white supremacist group whose members maintain that their ancestors conquered America and bequeathed it to them, and no one else.
  • Patriot Front justifies its ideology of hate and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ethnic and cultural origins of its members’ European ancestors.

(source: ADL’s backgrounder)

Ideology:

  • The Proud Boys are a right-wing extremist group with a violent agenda. They are primarily misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration. Some members espouse white supremacist and antisemitic ideologies and/or engage with white supremacist groups.

(source: ADL’s backgrounder)

Their xenophobia, antisemitism, and misogyny are their primary shared attributes along with racism to varying degrees.

We’ve now seen what the Proud Boys have been willing to do which Patriot Front have not yet engaged in — participation in events which can become violent. Yesterday’s Pride parade in Coeur d’Alene could have become a crossover event had Team PF not been arrested ahead of their destination.

What’s problematic, though, is the slack Proud Boys have been allowed. They’ve been treated like other civic and community organizations when their core ideology is hate. Buhl, Idaho allowed the Proud Boys to participate in a parade last summer:

The Times-News reports that Proud Boys members were among about 100 floats in the Sagebrush Days parade that went through the center of town.

The Buhl Chamber of Commerce runs the parade but wouldn’t comment specifically about the Proud Boys taking part.

“At this time the Buhl Chamber (of) Commerce will not feed into any negative propaganda,” the group said in a statement to the newspaper. “The Buhl 2021 Sagebrush Days parade saw 90 plus entries who celebrated in a courteous and civil manner. The Buhl Chamber takes pride in welcoming all participants, while giving them the opportunity to celebrate our great nation.”

“will not feed into any negative propaganda” meaning what, they weren’t going to allow anyone to bash Buhl’s Chamber of Commerce, or they weren’t going to let anyone bash the Proud Boys?

So long as Buhl allows the Proud Boys to participate in a community event, there’s no daylight between Buhl and the Proud Boys.

Ditto for Scotland, South Dakota which had agreed to allow the Proud Boys to host a street dance in their town though the Proud Boys backed out due to unspecified security concerns.

Both communities have validated and legitimized a hate group by allowing them equal footing with the rest of their community.

Would they have done so with Patriot Front had they taken the same approach as the Proud Boys rather than showing up in a U-Haul panel van after publishing comments online which could be construed as an expressed intent to riot?

Are these two hate groups testing the waters to see where they can establish a foothold and grow their organizations? Or has there been something more hateful in the offing?

Why yes, there was — where PF was stopped from harassing a Pride event in Idaho, the Proud Boys had already stormed a public library to halt a Drag Queen story hour in San Lorenzo, California, scaring families with children by shouting hate-filled diatribes at attendees.

Alameda County sheriff’s department escorted the Proud Boys out of the venue.

Between the two groups at these two different locations on the same day, they now know they can get away with their harassment if they restrain themselves to smaller numbers and target families with children, or attack larger groups if they use more operations security.

~ 0 ~

When I first set out months ago to write about PF, I had also wanted to discuss harassment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the truck convoys. Both are examples of the spread of overt expressions of hate, the first being racist and the second being socio-economic. Whatever was driving the attacks on HBCUs and the convoys has eased for now. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if foreign influence operations were the primary drivers.

However we have plenty to focus on immediately with the domestic influence operations these two hate groups are engaged in which must be stopped.

PF, by the way, still has an active Twitter account and a Twitter account used as a follow hub.

‘This Time Is Going to Be Different’: Confronting the NRA

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I can’t read one more story today about the fathomless horror children, teachers, and parents experienced in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday. Each new report nauseates me learning that Texas state and local government failed their most vulnerable citizens repeatedly.

Knowing that a child had to play dead after swabbing themselves in their dead friend’s blood is just…I don’t have words for this, only tears and an urge to scream and rail.

If this representative was mine, I’d be screaming at him.


Par for the course with this guy who succeeded NRA’s buddy Will Hurd for Texas’s 23rd congressional district.

Utterly useless and irresponsible, unresponsive to the needs of his constituents while doing little more than lobbying for guns.

Fortunately, the young people of Texas aren’t taking the attack on their futures lying down. We’ve seen protests after mass shootings before but this feels different — they are taking it right to the NRA.

Yeah, this really feels different.

There will be more protests tomorrow against the NRA in Houston outside the organization’s convention when big name doofuses like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump show up.

I hope more protests will occur in Uvalde against this monstrous wretch who is trying to suck up to the NRA and patronize Uvalde’s citizens at the same time. One can only wonder if polling told him to do this.

You’ll recall David Hogg is a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He continues to fight for the rights of young Americans to live without the terror of gun violence.

Hogg’s promoting the next rallies on June 11. By then Congress will be back in session.

It will take more than these rallies to make change happen, though. I hope there’s effort on the ground to encourage voter registration and education about candidates who support gun control.

There’s No Doubt the GOP Now Has Weapons of Mass Destruction [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the bylines, thanks. Updates at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

I’ve been frozen by anguish and anger, unable to write something about the mass murder in Uvalde, Texas. Whatever I dump here emerges from this, and some of it will be others’ words because they’ve said it better and more succinctly.

~ ~ ~

We’ve had some discussion in one of the threads about Beto O’Rourke’s attempt to question current Texas governor Greg Abbott about Abbott’s response to Uvalde.

Abbott’s minions shouted down O’Rourke, who as a Texan was entitled to know what the state’s top elected official was doing in response to the mass murder.

This encapsulates everything which is wrong with Abbott — he and the people he surrounds himself with don’t give a flying fuck about Texans. The Abbott administration is a goddamned joke.

This careless disregard will affect more than a couple of generations of Texans who’ve already had to deal with Abbott’s general uselessness against Texas’s isolated energy grid which killed a child along with 110 other Texans in 2021.

57.5% of Texas is not white; the largest portion of this non-white population is Hispanic/Latin, making up 39.3% of the state’s citizens according to a badly-run 2020 US Census which undercounted Texas citizens and undocumented residents alike.

Which means Texas is more than 40% Hispanic/Latin and Gov. Greg Abbott could give a flying fuck how they feel about Tuesday’s mass murder he enabled by signing an bill with the loosest open carry regulations in the nation.

He really hasn’t given but lip service after previous mass murders with assault weapons in his state, supporting increasing laxity about gun control in Texas in spite of six mass shootings since he was first elected governor in 2015.

Not just supporting increasing laxity, but doing so in the face of a majority’s support for increased gun controls from banning assault rifles to background checks before sales.

The Texas Tribune does a phenomenal job of laying out how Abbott has consistently ignored Texans’ sentiments while not pointing a finger at him alone. Abbott is doing what the GOP and its foreign-financed sponsor the National Rifle Association have wanted him to do: demoralize Texans and destabilize it so that state and federal government are undermined and lose support of the people.

~ ~ ~

We had quite a few heated discussions here in the wake of George Floyd’s murder-by-cop and subsequent protests against police abuse. The heat focused on “defunding the police” rather than the problem itself: increasing militarization of the police at all levels has not led to fewer murders-by-cop, nor to reducing the number of BIPOC Americans murdered by cop, extrajudicially executed by police who’ve more or less been granted absolute immunity because of the way “qualified immunity” has been applied.

Stop arguing about the effectiveness of the message, “defund the police.” Don’t even try to offer “reform policing” as an alternative. Not when police stood by and let a shooter terrorize and murder a classroom yesterday, restraining parents from going in to help, whisking cops’ kids to safety, coaching potential victims to yell for police help only to have the shooter kill a victim who yelled, “Help!”


These people right here:


called the U.S. Border Patrol to help them unlock a fucking classroom door.

$4 million a year –40% of its annual budget — plus grants the city of Uvalde has spent on policing only to have their police attacking frightened parents in some twisted form of crowd control as they stood there outside a locked classroom waiting for the gunman to do whatever it was he was going to do.

Greg Abbott went to a fundraiser that evening even as the blood of children and their teacher dried on the floor of that once locked classroom, as their parents’ DNA was collected for identifying the victims who had surely be turned into mincemeat by an AR-15. That was his response to the mass shooting: pay me, I’m delivering for you, he is telling his sponsors who are perfectly alright with a demoralized, destabilized Texas.

This is the response of police elsewhere: double down on what hasn’t worked since 1999 in Columbine.

[Tweet deleted by Rochester @News_8 which said police there were looking into more active shooter training]

It’s only a matter of time before we are offered the excuse that the AR-15 armed killer could take out Uvalde’s police the way the AR-15 armed killer took out the armed guard at the grocery store in Buffalo NY during a mass shooting ten days earlier.

Except there’s no comparison between a lone security guard not wearing a plate carrier and a militarized SWAT team which should have had far more training to deal with a lone gunman situation.

We’ve already heard the excuse from that malignant sluggard Abbott that the shooter was mentally ill, an assumption based on little to know evidence. And of course Abbott is responsible for the cutting funding for mental health care in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the Uvalde school shooter had a “mental health challenge” and the state needed to “do a better job with mental health” — yet in April he slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs.

In addition, Texas ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.

“We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health,” Abbott said during a news conference at Robb Elementary School, where a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday. …

Texans, you can do better than this lousy lying hack. You deserve better. Se merecen algo mejor que Abbott, tejanos.

Take it all down and start over. Rethink public safety from the ground up because it’s not working and it only gives the worst kinds opportunities to grift — like Abbott’s fundraising.

~ ~ ~

Even more frustrating than the endless stream of pablum offered by stupid gits like Ted Cruz, or rebellious threats against the president like Florida’s state house rep Randy Fine is the inability to connect dots.

The mass murder by an AR-15 carrying teen and previous mass shootings have been encouraged by the GOP because they are bought and owned by the gun manufacturers’ lobby, the NRA. The NRA doesn’t give a shit about Americans; it only cares that there is a sustained market for its products. It only cares that a minority of Americans are rabid enough about gun rights to act as enforcers for the lobby’s demands.

The lobby itself has been bought and owned by Russia following the 2010 Citizens United decision; a flood of Russian money laundered through the NRA bought GOP elected officials and candidates.

The Senate Finance Committee’s 2019 report based on an 18-month investigation said the NRA was a Russian ‘foreign asset’ before the 2016 election.

Considering who the NRA continues to support with campaign donations — like Senators Mitch McConnell (total $1,267,139 )and Rand Paul (total $104,456) whose state Kentucky has also been courted with Russian oligarch money — it’s likely still a foreign asset.

The NRA continues to buy the GOP; it remains pleased with the results of its lobbying because it hasn’t changed its mode of operation no matter how many mass shootings and deaths there have been.

[Screenshot, distribution of 2020 election cycle donations by NRA to major national political parties (FEC data via OpenSecrets)]

In short, Russia is conducting war on the US through its proxies the NRA and the GOP, ensuring weapons of mass destruction remain in the hands of people who are vulnerable to messaging encouraging violence — messaging which may arise from active measures over social media as a subset of Russia’s hybrid warfare..

The GOP need not worry about Putin escalating his assault on Ukraine into a nuclear war involving the US.

They’re already killing plenty of Americans using American weapons of mass destruction on American soil without a single drop of blood spattered on Putin’s doorstep.

Why would Putin waste a single warhead when the GOP will do all the dirty work for him, sitting on their hands and taking NRA money rather than do what has been proven effective (ban assault weapons) and what is popular (background checks on all gun buyers)?

~ ~ ~

A Twitter thread recap of Uvalde’s preventable disaster:

Do something. Fucking do something constructive to stop this madness, you book-burning child-killing hacks with the R after your name.

For Democrats who were elected to serve this nation, stop enabling both the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction here in our own backyards. Stop enabling lousy policing which clearly isn’t solving the problem of mass shootings in public spaces while it punches down on the public it’s supposed to serve.

For those of us who vote D, help people get IDs to vote, help them register, make sure every voter you know is educated about the ballot in your state/county/city/precinct, and get every voter to polls for the remaining primaries and the mid-term election in November. The life you save may be your own.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:00 P.M. 26-MAY-2022 —

I called it.

They had gear as well as training and they weren’t willing to use it because they might have been shot. It’s called dereliction of duty.

If they don’t want to police, then fucking defund the police. Use the budget to deal with the root causes like improved local mental health care and services for precarious residents.

BMS: Breast Milk Substitute? Big Messy Situation [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

For starters, let me point out the Biden administration has been trying to resolve the current infant formula crisis.


Other media outlets have done a decent job analyzing and reviewing the underlying causes of a disastrous shortage of infant formula in the U.S.

The causes include Trump maintaining bullshit tariffs on Canadian dairy products, COVID interruptions, and the oligopoly of formula producers which came about through the usual capitalistic method of regulatory capture leading to exclusion of competition and an insufficiency of monitoring for food safety.

The short term fixes may not be immediate; China, for example, manufactures formula but it has been struggling with COVID. It’s also had problems in the past with adulteration of infant formula.

Canada is the most obvious closest source but it will take rapid unwinding Trump’s tariffs to allow Canadian formula to backfill demand.

Meanwhile shelves are rapidly emptying depending on location across the country.


Mothers in particular are frantic because they are not only worried about ensuring a regular supply of formula for their infants, but they are being harangued and shamed for not breastfeeding even though breastfeeding isn’t a universal option for all mothers and infants.

This tweet by Midler is extremely disappointing. There are so many reasons why women can’t breastfeed yet they are constantly pressured for not doing so even by other women who should know better.

This is a really excellent thread by a historian on infant formula and breast milk substitutes which explains some of the reasons why parents have not been able to offer breast milk throughout history.


Much of the ignorance about infant feeding and subsequent harassment of mothers is rooted in Americans’ inadequate education about human reproduction as well as basic biology. Adults who’ve graduated from high school should know that mammals produce milk in response to a pregnancy, and once nursing has stopped so, too, does maternal milk production.

A mother can’t simply choose to breastfeed if she had to stop for any reason like difficulty with infant latch on, physical disability, illness, return to work where she can’t readily pump breast milk in privacy, so on.

The worst examples of pressure come from men who know absolutely nothing about breastfeeding having no uterus or birthed a child, and having no breasts. They know nothing of the stress of learning how to feed a newborn, mastering the intricacies of breastfeeding brassieres, learning how to do so in view of others as necessary, how to deal with curiosity or disgust by others who are offended by breastfeeding, how to pump and store breast milk, how to deal with chapped and bleeding nipples as well as unwanted letdown of milk, how to handle the first few times an infant bites its mother’s nipples, and dealing with constant advice and criticism about breastfeeding one’s child from family, friends, and total strangers.

And yet they feel they can lecture women saying, “Just breastfeed the kid.”

The stress new mothers deal with in this country is enormous. It’s no wonder we have a couple generations of anxious children and adults when they literally nurse on this as infants.

~ ~ ~

This situation isn’t going to get better overnight. It’s going to take at least a couple of months before production is up to demand levels and safe for infants.

What are parents who can’t breastfeed and can’t find formula supposed to do?

The White House put together a fact sheet which contains resources for locating formula.

https://www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html

For some parents the first step is finding a breast milk bank nearby; the fact sheet includes a link to

https://www.hmbana.org/find-a-milk-bank/overview.html

But even with all these resources there may be parents who can’t locate formula and are too far from the nearest breast milk bank. In Michigan, for example, there are two banks listed but both are more than 9 hours drive from the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, and the closest to Detroit is still more than an hour’s drive.

What do these parents do?

Having a handful of young friends who are expecting a child within the next six months, I did some research on how we used to feed infants before commercial infant formula was so prevalent.

First, I checked both the World Health Organization and UN’s UNICEF to obtain any resources they offered parents as breast milk substitutes in the event of an emergency.

UNICEF was unhelpful. Their material focused on ready-to-use formula in lieu of breastfeeding, only after pages and pages of material emphasizing human breast milk as a preference over formula. The organization has rightfully worked hard to emphasize breastfeeding as the safest and most reliable method for feeding infants in no small part because breast milk contains bioactive agents formula does not. The organization has fought globally against corporations which have undermined breastfeeding in order to sell commercial infant formula. But for the U.S.’s current situation UNICEF’s policy doesn’t work.

WHO was marginally better; a 43-page brochure spent 39 pages repeating over and over how human breast milk was the best choice for infants, nearly ignoring crises where breast milk and formula were not options.

Thankfully, on page 39 there was a recipe for making an alternative suitable for nursing infants — it consisted of water, evaporated milk, and sugar.

I recalled my youngest sibling adopted at 3 months of age in the early 1970s not consuming commercial formula. Instead they consumed a recipe based on cow’s milk, and this recipe in WHO seemed very similar.

Fortunately, I still have a resource to validate the recipe was the same or very similar. I called my 82-year-old mother and asked her what parents did before casual infant formula was used widely. I told her what I’d found at WHO.

“That’s what you drank,” she said. “That’s what you, your natural siblings and adopted sibling drank. Evaporated milk, water, and sugar, though we used corn syrup instead of sugar to avoid constipation. Oh, and you had infant oral vitamin drops.”

We spent a half hour talking about the hows and whys — she had been working full time as a registered nurse and couldn’t breastfeed her kids. Breastfeeding wasn’t widely seen as socially acceptable either if a mother had to feed an infant outside of the home.

Hygiene was emphasized — ensuring the bottles, lids, and nipples were sterile, that all formula recipe ingredients were heated to kill pathogens and bottled while hot to ensure the formula was safe to consume, along with prompt refrigeration.

Apart from human breast milk having evolved to best suit human infant needs, hygienic production, bottling, and storage are the key reasons why WHO and UNICEF place a premium on breastfeeding over formula and alternatives. Depending on location in the world, the only safe food for an infant may be breast milk especially since water for dry formula mix or use with concentrated canned formula may not be clean.

But one or two generations of Americans were fed canned cow’s milk diluted with water with additional calories supplemented by sweetener. In a pinch we can do it again — at least until the canned milk production supply chain breaks down.

~ ~ ~

CAVEAT: I am NOT a health care professional. I am providing the following on an informational basis which should not be used as a substitute for discussion and guidance with a qualified health care professional.

After talking with my mom I’m sharing what I found on the internet which was what doctors and hospitals used to send home with their new parents as instructions for feeding their new infant, along with the WHO recipe.

Vitamins: For anyone nearing their due date or who has an infant under the age of 6 months: contact your pediatrician or health care provider for a recommendation on infant liquid multivitamin drops and whether they recommend them with or without iron if an alternative to infant formula or breast milk is necessary. Multivitamin drops will supplement what an alternative to formula can’t provide should breastfeeding not be an option.

Nutritional differences: Keep in mind that the evaporated milk alternative is not identical to breast milk; it has more far more protein, for example, which may be more taxing on human kidneys. Compare these different forms of cow’s milk to human breast milk:

Human breast milk (per 8-oz cup): 171 calories, 17 grams carbs, 17 grams sugar, 2.5 grams protein, 11 grams fat

Gut flora: Also keep in mind that a change in diet means a change in gut flora; an infant can become constipated or have other health issues like allergies due to a corresponding change in immune system signaling. Parents should consider broad spectrum probiotics in their own diet because they will pass on their flora through normal contact with their infant. I introduced my children to plain unsweetened yogurt as soon as our family GP approved the addition to their diet (about 6 months); yogurt with live culture is a probiotic food.

WHO’s alternative:

Note that this formulation allows for the use of boiled cow’s milk. NEVER use raw cow’s milk. It’s safest to boil pasteurized cow’s milk. The formulation also allows for canned evaporated milk once it has been reconstituted to the same concentration as fresh milk, and then diluted further per this recipe.

Past examples: These are examples of instructions routinely sent home with new parents in the 1940s through the early 1960s.

[Instructions provided on discharge to new parents in 1945.]

Here’s an excerpt from a paper published in 1957 on evaporated milk in infant feeding.

And an instructional video on how infant formula was prepared at home during the 1950s at this link.

Some recipes like WHO’s call for sugar, but many older recipes refer to corn syrup as a sweetening alternative because it prevents or resolves constipation in some infants.

At least one recipe published by a mommy blog refers to blackstrap molasses as a sweetener because it contains iron and other trace minerals not found in white sugar or white corn syrup.

NEVER use honey. It should NEVER be offered to infants less than a year old due to the risk of botulism.

Parents whose infants and toddlers experience problems with cow’s milk may want to try goat’s milk which is available in canned evaporated form. (There are commercial infant formulas made from goat’s milk.)

NO to Plant-based milks: plant-based milk products like soy or almond milk are NOT appropriate substitutes for commercial infant formula or breast milk. Their nutritional content is in no way similar.

WATER SAFETY: water used to prepare evaporated cow’s (or goat’s) milk formula must be sanitary — heated at a high enough temperature long enough to kill pathogens. Even when mixed with powered infant formula, water should be heated to 158 degrees Fahrenheit/70 degrees Celsius.

~ ~ ~

I’ve already seen lectures and scolding about breastfeeding being best along with more finger wagging about homemade formula because it’s not as healthy as ready-to-use infant formula or powdered infant formula.

To which I say refer back to the tweet thread by Phil Hernandez near the top of this post and look closely at the photos of the shelves taken in Norfolk VA. There’s exactly one breast milk bank listed for the entire state of Virginia and it’s in Norfolk as well.

What the hell are American parents with infants supposed to do when there’s not enough breast milk or commercial formula to go around?

Especially when the U.S. has plenty of evaporated cow’s milk on the shelves while producing too much cow’s milk altogether.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:15 PM EDT —

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning and was asked about the infant formula situation.


He nailed it when he says we have a capitalist system and the government doesn’t make formula. The right-wing has decided it wants to use this capitalist system failure as a means to attack the Biden administration, but the entire regulatory system has been constructed to serve corporations more so than the people who consume products (with the majority of corporations’ support going to the GOP and its candidates).

One only need look at OpenSecret’s data on Abbott Laboratories and Abbott Nutrition‘s campaign contribution history to both major parties to see part of the infant formula industry’s regulatory capture process at work.

The right-wing in this country needs to make up its mind: its political apparatus is either going to stand behind a free market, or more socialized government intervention when competition fails. It only seems to be settled on government getting the way overreaching into women’s uteruses and trans persons’ bathroom stalls and obstructing Black Americans’ access to the voting booth.

What’s particularly irritating about today’s Face the Nation segment is that Buttigieg isn’t the Commerce Secretary or the Health and Human Services Secretary, or the FDA Director.

He’s a concerned adoptive father who told CBS the infant formula situation “is very personal for us,” referring to his two nine-month-old infants.

But sure, let’s beat up on a parent who already has enough to worry about and isn’t responsible for the problem in his day job.

Kentucky Derby Day

Video not loading like it used to. Sorry about that. Here it is, as should be:

It is getting harder to properly embed videos from You Tube. Just imagine how bad a worthless prick like Musk can make the internet.

Okay, let’s rip it up a bit. There is nothing like Derby Day. The hats are as insane as they look. And, yet. it is one of the greatest pieces of Americana ever. I have not been in a long time, but, jeebus, it was everything as advertised. And surely is still.

This is also the weekend of the Miami Grand Prix. The course looks like painted garbage with not enough racing surface to me, but maybe it will be better racing than expected.

Draw up a mint julep and enjoy.

This is a Trash Talk thread, have at it.

 

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