The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

I can hardly believe it, but it’s Thanksgiving next week, Widdershins! I hope you’re all going to take some time to relax. Two viruses – the pandemic and the Republican virus of vaccine and mask resistance – have cast a pall over holiday gatherings this year. The pandemic is the one affecting Thanksgiving for me. I am thankful that my family is all vaxxed, AND, that I am seeing my aunt and uncle from Baltimore for the first time since the Rona reared its ugly head. We’ll still need to get negative PCR tests before we can go inside my brother’s house for Turkey and Tofurkey Day (my sister-in-law is vegetarian), but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Despite the wretched Rittenhouse verdict, we had a lot to be thankful for this week. President Biden signed the BIF and Speaker Pelosi got the Build Back Better bill signed in the House. Now, the bill goes to the Senate, but thanks to the reconciliation process, only Democrats need to vote for it. Despite Manchinema saying they’ll wait for the CBO report to say how they vote, the report is coming soon, and I don’t think they’ll make a lot of trouble after what happened in New Jersey and Virginia. Oh, and remember how McConnell insisted a couple of months ago that he would absolutely, totally, NOT vote yes on raising the debt ceiling on December 15? Looks like he and Chuck are talking about it now. Something tells me Chuck will get what he wants.

I hope you all will indulge me as I take a minute to marvel at what the Democrats have accomplished so far. The Party has had full control of the federal government only since February 3, 2021, when Schumer and McConnell agreed on power-sharing in the Senate. Given that metric, it’s been nine and a half months.

We have been so traumatized and terrified by the hostile maladministration of Rethugs that we are not used to any good news coming from government sources. I believe this trauma, in combination with our blatantly fascist media, are what’s preventing us from appreciating the revolutionary nature of this time in our political history. There has not been a truly significant investment in the 99% since the Affordable Care Act – and even that was weak sauce compared to what’s being passed now. I can only compare the current furious activity to the New Deal, without the racism of that legislation. And Democrats are doing it all with a majority of 1 vote – the revolutionary, first Black and Asian woman Vice President Kamala Harris. (PRESIDENT Kamala Harris for a few hours this week! Incredible!)

I have often said that the job of President of the United States is the hardest job in the world. 350 million souls, so many of them suffering due to social and economic inequality; and the rest of the world, looking to Biden for leadership, aid and partnership – with a few countries trying to destroy him and America from the inside. Imagine coming into that job after almost 27 years of Rethug destruction, plus a global pandemic that has been botched almost beyond repair, with a forever war to end in Afghanistan and an ongoing attempted coup added in for good measure!

Leaders talented enough to take on this job successfully need two traits in combination. One is, the ability to communicate a shared purpose that people can believe in; and the other is the ability to build the right team to drive it forward.

I think Pelosi and Schumer have been able to wrangle the Democrats into passing these historic bills not just because they too are very talented leaders (they certainly are!), but also because Biden has convinced Congressional Dems that his purpose is the right one. (This doesn’t count the Squad, of course, but they’re DINOs.) His purpose to me is quite simple: let’s join the 21st century so China and Russia don’t destroy us. He’s looking ahead strategically and seeing how many of our people are mired in poverty, illness and incarceration without access to the Internet, child care, education and healthcare. This state of the Union makes us less competitive on the world stage, holding us back from making progress on difficult problems like climate change and clean energy. Every initiative Biden has put forward has been consistent with this purpose; whether it’s the American Rescue Plan, which included an increased Child Tax Credit that has already cut child poverty by 50%; or the BIF, which includes billions for clean water and renewable energy; or the Build Back Better Act, which in its current form regulates the cost of child care, provides four weeks of paid parental and sick leave for all American workers, provides free universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds, and boosts Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, as well as containing $500 billion to address climate change. Women’s rights are far from forgotten – the latest annual budget proposal drops the Hyde Amendment for the first time since 1976, as well as the less-known Weldon Amendment that works in tandem with it, and includes historic amounts of funding for Title X and access to abortion. And let’s not forget the executive orders he’s signed to mandate vaccines in workplaces through OSHA, and block the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more details, this poster on Twitter always has receipts.

Biden’s ability to build a stellar team is on display all day, every day. From our marvelous VP Kamala Harris, who (despite getting the Hillary treatment from the media) is succeeding on multiple fronts, to his diverse and talented Cabinet, Chief of Staff and Press Secretary, all of his team are on point, on message and doing what needs to be done.

There is plenty of bad that’s going on in this world, but today, I’m thankful for what the Democrats have done for the American people. And today and every day, I’m thankful for all of you Widdershins who have kept me going through good times and bad, for lo, these many years.

Happy Thanksgiving all! Open thread as always.

Hello Widdershins!

Another week, more shenanigans from Sinenchin. AZ Senator who caucuses with Democrats went to fundraise in Europe while steadfastly insisting the filibuster is saving democracy and Manchin finally drew one red line on what he is willing to support: transitioning from coal to sustainable energy. We all thought Manchin objected to the cost of Biden’s BBB bill, but that ain’t it. It’s the pretty cheap part of the bill that transitions his state from coal. Manchin can’t have that. Coal must flow!!!! Even though it is a tiny part of the state’s industry (Arby’s employs more people than the coal industry). But Manchin looooooves coal. So.

Also Bernie Sanders released a blistering statement criticizing how the media is obsessed with the price tag of the bill, while the public has no idea what’s in the bill. Bernie is right (someone check hell, it must be freezing.) The press only talks about the $3.5 trillion price tag and the negotiations. They barely mention what’s actually in the bill. Naturally this sent the press (people like Magga Haberman!) into a tail spin of “This isn’t our fault, it’s your fault! It’s never our fault!” social media posts. Fact check: It is the media’s fault. 3.5 trillion % the media’s fault. The same media still insists their coverage of 2016 election was perfect. But I keep going back to Harvard’s Shorenstein Media Center’s study that ABC, NBC & CBS Nightly News shows – the most watched news programs in the country – spent 100 mins of 2016 discussing Hillary’s email. 30 mins discussing all political issues combined. And 0 of those minutes were on climate change. And yet, the media continues to insist their coverage is above criticism. Trump was right about one thing, if for the wrong reasons: media is the enemy of the people.

22195595_1946664625360175_1226013034779492574_n.jpg

It’s been quite the week (quite the 2 years, really.) Of course, the horrific massacre in Las Vegas has taken up the bulk of the news coverage since Sunday night. The murderer seemed to have planned things out quite extensively, including setting up cameras around the hotel and feeding the signal to his tablet, so he could see what was happening outside of the room and knew when the cops were coming. Needless to say, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson dedicated a fair amount of his show on Monday night discussing…Hillary Clinton. Clinton tweeted about the need for gun-laws and the NRA’s death grip on the Senate, so naturally, it had to be addressed. Wait until Fox News finds out Hillary isn’t running in 2020.

But a few other important stories came out over the past few days that I wanted to mention so we don’t forget them.

Because irony committed suicide a million times over the past year, we learned that Javanka had a 3rd (third) private email account on a private server. They forgot to mention this third one to the Senate, like they forgot to mention the other two.

The emails — which include nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials —were in many cases sent from Ivanka Trump, her assistant Bridges Lamar and others who work with the couple in the White House. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts.

Then there’s, of course, the issue of several cabinet officials taking private planes for personal business. Tim Price already resigned over it, but he’s not the only one. Scott Pruitt, the evil EPA chief determined to destroy the environment, did lots of flying, as did Steve Mnuchin.

For lunch on April 26, Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined with top executives from Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities, at Equinox, a white-tablecloth favorite of Washington power brokers.

That evening, it was on to BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for a meal with the board of directors of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-mining giant whose chief executive donated nearly $2 million to help elect President Trump.

Before those two agenda items, Mr. Pruitt met privately with top executivesand lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change.

There are many more Pruitt meetings with agencies he is supposed to oversee. All while flying on the tax-payer’s private jet dime.

In rather stunning news, the US voted against a UN resolution condemning the execution of LGBTQ people, among others.

[UN resolution] called for the death penalty to be banned “as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”, as well as criticising its use on minors, mentally ill people and pregnant women.

Of the 47 countries on the Human Rights Council, 27 voted in favour while 13 states voted against.

The United States voted against the motion, alongside Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

Cuba, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya all abstained.

And let us cross our fingers, toes, legs, arms, anything we can, about the SCOTUS case dealing with gerrymandering in Wisconsin: Gill vs. Whitford. Though Democrats have won more votes in Wisconsin for the past 8 years, through extensive gerrymandering Republicans (evil Governor Scott Walker) have arranged so that Republicans control all levels of government in the state. That case is now before SCOTUS. After the briefings today, it is obvious that the court is divided along ideological lines. That’s why Gorsuch will be such a catastrophe for our country for generations to come. (Fuck you Bernie, Jill Stein, Susan Sarandon, Rosario Dawson, etc.) The swing vote will be Kennedy, and observers seemed to think he might have been leaning against Wisconsin. He only asked questions of state officials defending gerrymandering.

“Suppose the court…decided that this is a First Amendment issue, not an equal protection issue. Would that change the calculus?” Kennedy asked as the court debated the legality of the Wisconsin plan. A three-judge panel ruled that the GOP-led legislature tilted the table so sharply against Democrats that it ran afoul of the Constitution.

Kennedy also seemed irked when a lawyer for GOP legislators in Wisconsin would not immediately say whether a state law that explicitly stated a policy to harm either Democrats or Republicans would be illegal.

“If the state has a law or constitutional amendment that’s saying all legitimate factors must be used in a way to favor party X or party Y, is that lawful?” he asked attorney Erin Murphy, adding later: “I’d like the answer to the question.”

Murphy eventually conceded that such a law would be unconstitutional, a concession that seemed to open the door to the idea that a redistricting plan that was hopelessly skewed but contained no explicit partisan goal would also be suspect.

Even John McCain (in a joint statement with Sheldon Whitehouse) said he hopes SCOTUS will rule against Wisconsin. And at the briefing, there was a moment between Gorsuch and the notorious RBG.

The court’s newcomer, Justice Neil Gorsuch, said he worried that states would not know what standard they’re supposed to meet without “having every district subject to litigation.” He compared the tests courts were considering to a steak rub.

“What’s this court supposed to do? A pinch of this and a pinch of that?” he asked.

Gorsuch also seemed to irritate Ginsburg when he suggested that maybe the Supreme Court shouldn’t be intruding on how a state draws lines for state offices. “Where exactly do we get authority to revise state legislative lines?

Moments later, Ginsburg shot back that the court’s been doing just that for years. “Where did one-person, one-vote come from?” she said.

I am not a religious man, but as somebody once said, “Let us pray.”

Of course I must end with Madonna. Fun fact: the solo guitar on this song is played by the uncredited Prince. Madonna and Prince recorded a duet for the “Like a Prayer” album called Love Song. But Prince also played guitar on three additional songs on the album, though his name was not (at his own request) included in the credits at the time: the title track, Keep It Together and Act of Contrition. Once Eric Clapton was asked what it felt like to be the greatest guitarist in the world. He replied: “I don’t know. Ask Prince.”

29OTR-master768.jpg

Good morning Widdershins,

Hurricane Harvey has been a massive catastrophe. As I was writing this on Tuesday evening, a levee in a county south of Houston has breached. “NOTICE: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! GET OUT NOW!!!” Brazoria County said on Twitter on Tuesday morning. Many trillions of gallons of water have fallen. The entire Texas National Guard has been deployed. Meanwhile president Dump and his wife (wearing 4” heels) went to visit and Dump wondered at the size of the crowd assembled. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” he declared in Corpus Cristi. Meanwhile Glenn Thrush of the New York Times declared that Dump “used the dulcet, reassuring and uplifting language of prior presidents” when speaking of the disaster, in an article with the headline: “Harvey Gives Trump A Chance to Reclaim Power to Unify.” I assume that’s when Dump wasn’t wearing his $40 hats his company sells while making appearances in Texas. The New York Times has reached peak dumpster fire in their apologia and legitimization of Dump. Just a few days ago their reporters (you know the ones) were screaming on twitter that everything is Hillary’s fault. (I’m sure I’m wrong about it being peak. Bigger dumpster fires are yet to come.) The only person at the Times with any sense of decency is Paul Krugman who sent out a series of tweets pointing out the media screwed up. Sadly the political desk at the Times, headed by Dean Baquet, doesn’t listen to Krugman.

Speaking of Dean Baquet, read this remarkable article about Baquet, the media, Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, and Meredith McIver, who took responsibility for stealing Michelle Obama’s words. Is McIver an actual person? Who knows! Even though the Times, among others, wrote glowingly about her, nobody seems to have met this woman in at least 10 years. And Baquet thinks the reporter who asked to confirm that someone at the Times actually has met this woman is a “moron.”

…we really don’t know if Meredith McIver is real, alive, and well, or not — she may very well be. But I know the explanations from Team Trump for what happened at the time were completely ridiculous — one involved Sean Spicer and a My Little Pony box (please, Google it); I know that other people searching for Meredith have received anonymous threats; I know that a phone conversation I had with Meredith’s alleged ex-boyfriend, Stephen Palitz, led to far more questions than answers; I know that fake social media accounts for Meredith popped up immediatley after she accepted blame…and suddenly and inexplicably began communicating in Russian before disappearing again.

A few months ago, Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the NYTimes, fired the paper’s public editor. The public editor was originally hired after the paper’s disastrous coverage leading up to the Iraq War. Now Sulzberger declared the role was no longer necessary because the public would keep his reporters honest. On Tuesday evening Peter Daou, a former Clinton staffer who is very vocal in his defense of Clinton on twitter, announced he has now been blocked by 3 major Times reporters, including Thrush and Haberman. How does one keep reporters honest – when reporters block you?

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 10.53.37 PM.png

What’s on your minds Widdershins? This is an open thread.

It’s Been Rough Lately

Good Monday, all. After weeks and weeks of nothing but horrible news, I thought I’d put up something hopeful.

I continue to believe that there is no more urgent issue in our time than that of our planet’s rapidly rising core temperature. If we have an environment that is uninhabitable for more and more of the world’s 7 billion people, the fight for remaining resources will destabilize our global society in ways ISIL could only dream of. This article contains quotes from 13 climate scientists who feel there is some reason to be positive about the potential for progress on this issue. (Note: For info on the Paris climate talks, I found this to be a good consolidated source of information.)

Here are a couple of my favorites:

“I’m most hopeful about the creativity and open minds within the younger generation worldwide – and not just within the education system. Tackling climate challenge requires innovative thinking, bravery, and stepping outside of our comfort zone. People across all job types and within civil society must think in new ways, and do it quickly. Many of those in established positions feel too constrained to make a step change and do things differently, but that’s what is needed. Often younger people are more able to ditch the ego and put the climate first – this is refreshing and necessary!

“I’d like to contribute by clearly laying out how great the challenge we face is, but also that there are different ways of thinking that are not about ‘going backwards’, but about creatively embracing our collective future.”

—Alice Bows-Larkin, professor at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester

And:

“Last year, we saw renewables for the first time outcompeting fossil fuels in added electricity-generation capacity. For the first time in decades we saw global economic growth without any growth in carbon emissions. If we are going to avoid truly dangerous and irreversible changes in our climate, however, we need to accelerate the progress already underway, putting our foot to the metal when it comes to the transition away from a fossil fuel economy. I’m hopeful that we’ll make significant progress toward that goal at the Paris climate summit later this year.

“I would like to see an international treaty that holds all nations to binding reductions in carbon emissions, building on the voluntary commitments and bilateral agreements (e.g. between China and the US) that are already in place.”

—Michael Mann, professor of meteorology, Penn State University

When smart people like this feel there is reason to stay strong and keep the faith, it make me think that there maybe light at the end of this long tunnel after all. And, that it’s not an oncoming train.

This is an open thread.


Biden illustration: REBUILD WITH BIDEN

Nice picture of our gal

Madam Vice President

Our President

It’s here: QUARANTINE BINGO!

Wanna Be A Widdershin?

Send us a sample post at:

widdershinssubmissions at gmail dot com

Our Frontpagers

Blog Archive

December 2022
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Not done yet with you

Friggin Lizard people

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Need Reminders?

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Dems are coming for ya