The Widdershins

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She was right. Of course. Always.

As we head into Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to share President Biden’s speech with all the Widdershins. As the historian Michael Beschloss said afterwards, this moment echoes across time to two other Presidents who, like Biden, spoke on the eve of extraordinarily consequential elections that put America at a crossroads between democracy and ruin.

President Lincoln, before the election of 1860, gave a now-famous speech about slavery, contending that “a house divided against itself cannot stand” – that if America continued to embrace a system that was against the spirit of the Constitution, a system in which only some were free, we would lose our democracy. President Roosevelt, before the election of 1940, had to contend with American apologists for Hitler and Nazism, and clearly laid out what the future would be if we did not enter the war and stand up for democracy.

President Biden made this clarion call for democracy and against the MAGA movement at exactly the right time. Once again, our democracy stands on the brink of falling to an extreme minority who does not believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, the right to free and fair elections, or the peaceful transition of power. These Nazis, these fascists, these white supremacists, simply want to enshrine themselves as the rulers of America – and they don’t care how they do it.

In this speech, Joe Biden did what he doesn’t like to do – he made a clear division into “us” (patriotic Americans, no matter what party) and “them” – MAGA extremists who do not believe in our vision of America.

It’s about fricking time. As we know, Hillary was ahead of him by 7 years! But, better late than never, Joe.

Hello Widdershins!

The January 6 Committee continues to make serious headway in their investigation. The most recent brouhaha was the revelation in the press that the Secret Service erased text messages among its members from January 5 and 6 after the Inspector General looking into their actions requested it. To clarify: Secret Service deleted those text messages after the IG asked for them. They argued these were routine actions. The 1/6 Committee sent a subpoena for the text messages. The Secret Service has said they found them (!) and will supply them to the Committee on Tuesday. Let’s keep an eye on that. We can not forget that on 1/6 Mike Pence refused to get into a car with the SS. Trump promoted some SS people to political positions in his administrations. And when Joe Biden won the election he asked some agents who protected him when he was VP – and who had already retired – to return to service to protect him. Because Biden knew SS was corrupt. It’s also being reported that a number of agents were cheering on the insurrection on their personal social media accounts.

Joe Bloody Manchin is at it again. After a year of negotiating a climate change bill – Manchin has pulled the rug out and said “LOL No.” I suppose the most frustrating thing – besides the obvious – is that Manchin keeps lying to colleagues in the Senate by dangling the belief that he can reach an agreement, and then publicly humiliating them. Time and again he has done this. Meanwhile in the UK military runways are melting because of the heat there. But it’s fine. Manchin is worried about how we’ll pay for the climate bill. Of course, coming from West Virginia, there is no other Democrat who can win there. But Democrats need more seats in the Senate.

This is an open thread.

Snitches

Posted on: July 3, 2022

Former White House/Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson swearing in for testimony before House’s 1/6 Committee.

Hello Widdershins,

A big week of 1/6 Committee hearings: former senior aide for Mark Meadows – former Republican Representative (and Freedom Caucus chief) who became Trump’s chief of staff 2020-21 – threw something of a nuke into the proceedings. Cassidy Hutchinson was one of Meadows’ most trusted deputy. A former intern for the likes of Ted Cruz she catapulted into the highest echelons of Republican power. A former staffer for Paul Ryan tweeted that Meadows always insisted that Hutchinson be present in every meeting. They didn’t think much of it at the time, he noted. Up until just a few weeks ago Hutchinson was being represented by a lawyer who was taking orders from Meadows and Trump. But she suddenly fired that attorney and hired her own. The information she provided – privately and in the public hearing – made a real impact. We learned that Meadows texted Hutchinson the day before the public testimony, warning her not to go through with it. (That’s illegal!) Perhaps one of the most consequential parts of Hutchinson’s testimony was her revealing that Donald Trump insisted on going to the Capitol right after his rally, just as his MAGAts began their march and Proud Boys were already on the premises. According to Hutchinson – who said she was told by people directly involved – Trump lunged for the wheel of his car and tried to choke the Secret Service agent, insisting he be taken to the Capitol. While SS (always appreciated that acronym) first insisted no such thing happened, within 24 hrs other people came forward – including from the SS – saying that it did. And a grainy video and photos appeared showing things getting wild inside Trump’s car. That video is now being examined like the Zapruder film.

The main take-away from this information isn’t that Trump was throwing a hissy fit and choked his Secret Service agent (who, incidentally, remains loyal to Trump.) That’s absurd and salacious. But the important part of that story is why Trump demanded to be taken to the Capitol, when you add the other known parts of the Insurrection. Trump continued to demand that Pence not certify the votes, and was pleased that Pence’s life was threatened. The Proud Boys had already arrived on the premises of the Capitol well ahead of the MAGAt rioters. The Proud Boys were organized. We know the Proud Boys were coordinating with Roger Stone, who was coordinating with Trump and Rudy Giuliani. We know that there are only a handful of unfortified windows in the Capitol and the Proud Boys knew exactly which ones. Why did Trump wanted to go to the Capitol so violently? Trump insisting to go the Capitol – combined with the other things – can only mean he intended to declare himself the winner of the election just as the votes were counted. The violence was the cover so he could declare martial law or something similar. Proud Boys were hunting for Pence and Pelosi. Just imagine the horrors if the rioters found them – and Trump arrived to declare himself the winner.

This is an open thread.

The liberals made my life miserable for 43 years. And I’m going to make their lives miserable for 43 years.

Clarence Thomas to his clerks in 1993

This is the petty schmuck who has led the charge to make all the people he hates – women, LGBTQ+, and non-Christofascists in general – into property of the State. I say “the State” because the federal government, in the person of six ideologues who never should have been confirmed to the Supreme Court, has removed basic privacy protections from all of us.

The State has decided that only women who live in blue states will have rights to their own bodies. In essence, when one person is denied the guarantee of freedom, it opens up the precedent that everyone can be denied the guarantee of freedom. Thomas and the five ChristoClowns have decided that no one has rights to their own bodies except white, straight, Christian men. (I think Clarence Thomas counts himself as white – that’s the only explanation for his buying in to this anti-American bullsh*t.)

As Quixote pointed out in comments, this is the re-establishment of slavery; but Slavery 2.0 casts a much wider net than the original. Friday’s decision removed basic human rights from 166 million women and girls. And each of those women and girls has many people that love her and will grieve her pain along with her. So when she is raped and has to bear her rapist’s child, or dies in childbirth, or dies from an ectopic pregnancy, or lives in poverty and misery because she can’t afford a child, this suffering doesn’t just impact her. It impacts everyone around her.

The horrors that will spread from this decision are unimaginable, and I think we are all incredulous that no one could see it coming in 2016. Young white people in particular should have come out in droves to vote for Hillary, but no. They couldn’t be bothered because “both parties are the same” and “Bernie woulda won.” Do y’all get it now, Gen Z and Millennials? You’re the ones who will actually be impacted by this. I’m going to be 55 this year and can no longer get pregnant, which oddly, makes me feel guilty that I won’t be directly miserable along with so many others. (Jewish guilt is rough.)

For those who say this will only impact women of color, and wealthy white women in red states will be fine because they can travel to other states, I think they’re in for a surprise. The Christofascists have thought of that loophole. They want to test women for pregnancy before allowing them to travel out of state. And, they want to criminalize miscarriages. Sounds like Slavery 1.0, doesn’t it? Will they be sending bounty hunters to capture runaway pregnant women if they cross the border “illegally” to states where they’re not considered property?

Based on the wave of protests that started on Friday and will likely continue, as well as the vast majority of Americans who disagree with SCOTUS, this terrible decision will drive enormous turnout in 2022 and the Democrats will increase their majorities in the House and Senate. (This doesn’t even count the impact the J6 hearings have had on the QOP – but that’s for another post. That will also be quite significant.) Nevertheless, I agree with Quixote, DYB and other Widdershins that every Democrat running for office in 2022 needs to be on message as to what they are going to do to fix this. I’d like to hear them say three things: 1) I will vote to amend the filibuster to make progress on legislation the Republicans are blocking; 2) I will vote to expand the Supreme Court and 3) I will vote “yes” on the Women’s Health Protection Act. None of these things can happen without two more Senate Democrats to nullify Manchinema’s inconsistent insistence on keeping the filibuster sacrosanct sometimes, whatever whatever.

The QOP has massively overstepped both their power and their mandate. They may be celebrating now, but they will be crying in November, and for decades to come. And Clarence Thomas, you will be f*cking miserable for the rest of your disgusting, pathetic life.

Shchedryk

Posted on: June 17, 2022

Hello Widdershins,

The 1/6 Commission continues to hold hearings, revealing more and more details about how much planning Trump and Friends were doing to overthrow the US Government. 99.999999% of Republican went along with Trump’s plan. And they are all continuing to support him now. The notable exceptions you can count on maybe two hands. The coup is ongoing.

Also ongoing is the war in Ukraine. Putin continues offensives in parts of the country, even as other regions – including the capitol Kyiv – have seemingly resumed their normal lives. How odd to live a normal life in Kyiv while war rages not far away. Germany, France, and Italy continue to enable Putin by calling for Europe and US to not humiliate Putin. They continue to veto providing certain weapons to Ukraine. They continue to cast doubt on Ukraine being able to join the EU. This week the three leaders of these nations finally came to Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy. But someone called this image of Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy “Judas’ Kiss.” That may be what Zelenskyy is thinking.

French President Emmanuel Macron embracing Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Mykola Leontovych

The ancient Ukrainian folk chant Shchedryk (based on a simple 4 note pattern, which people used to believe had magical properties) about a swallow that flew into a house on New Year (before Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year was in April), sang about all the good things the family had achieved, and promised to return the following New Year/Spring. The word “shchedry” actually means “generous.” After Christianity came to Ukraine, New Year moved to January and the chant became associated with the Feast of Epiphany, which took place on January 18th – what is called “The Old New Year” – which was New Year on the Julian calendar. Ukrainians called this the “Shchedry vechir,” or “Generous Evening.” (All other things aside: that’s how old Ukraine is, in spite of what Putin likes to believe when he discusses Russian history.) Back to Shchedryk: in 1904 the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych (1877-1921) composed a song based on this ancient 4-note motif, for a cappella choir, though the song was not premiered until 1916. On January 21-22, 1921, Leontovych was visiting his parents for the Eastern Orthodox Feast of Nativity in the town of Tulchyn. A man asked the family to stay with them for the night because he had nowhere else to go. They agreed and he shared the room with Leontovych. In the morning the man – who turned out to be a Chekist (Soviet secret service agent) Afanasy Grishchenko – shot Leontovych, who bled to death from the wounds. Later that year, in October 1921, the Ukrainian National Chorus performed Leontovych’s Shchedryk in a concert at Carnegie Hall. Among those present was the American composer Peter Wilhousky – who was so struck by the work that he replaced the ancient Ukrainian text with completely unrelated English words, eventually copyrighted them, and today the composition is known in the West as the Christmas carol “Carol of the Bells.” While Leontovych is revered in Ukraine (in his own time, the French called him the Ukrainian Bach), in the West he is forgotten and and no one even knows he composed one of our most frequently performed songs. Here it is then: as composed by Leontovych in 1904, using the ancient 4-note motif, with its original ancient Ukrainian text.


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