The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Lazy Weekend’ Category

Hi Widdershins,

Sad news this morning: the great author Anne Rice passed away at age 80. Her son Christopher, himself a noted writer, announced her death. It’s hard to overstate how big of a presence Rice was to my formative years, particularly for a closeted and confused gay teenager. People often dismiss horror and gothic fiction as frivolous, but the beauty and soulfulness of Rice’s creations was such a big presence for my generation. “Interview with the Vampire” blew the hinges off vampire fiction, certainly the most important and influential vampire novel since Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” With her genuinely profound rumination on life and death, morality and evil, grief and joy, Rice’s Lestat, Louis and young vampire Claudia (a grown woman forever trapped in a young girl’s vampire body, Claudia was based on Rice’s own young daughter Michelle, who died of leukemia aged 6; Rice’s grief inspired her to write “Interview with the Vampire.”) The novel forever changed not just Rice’s devoted readers, but the genre of horror itself in a way even Stephen King did not. Sequels to “Interview with the Vampire” followed, some brilliant, some not. The Mayfair Witches series also was a brilliant, page-turning multi-generational soap opera that began with stunning “The Witching Hour.” Rice wrote two magnificent historic novels too: “Cry To Heaven” (about castrati singers) and “The Feast of all Saints” (about children of slave owners and their slaves.) It wasn’t just the thrilling stories and beautifully developed characters, but Rice’s rich prose, so evocative in its mood painting and vivid descriptions of times and places long gone, that are left behind for us mortals to enjoy. Anne Rice will be interred in the family mausoleum in New Orleans.

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.

…the rapid intensification of a storm caused by a sudden and significant drop in atmospheric pressure the development or intensification of a bomb cyclone

Merriam-Webster

What a week, Widdershins! Here in Northern California, we are expecting a huge rainstorm (aka “atmospheric river”) caused by bombogenesis, starting this evening and going into Sunday. In my area, it is supposed to drop 6.5 inches in that short amount of time, including cyclonic winds up to 70 miles per hour. We have flashlights, a generator and extra food and booze, so fingers and toes crossed we’ll be all right. While severe and potentially causing flash flooding, we are all grateful for this storm, as it is starting to make a dent in the deep and perilous drought we have been experiencing. After this weekend, we’ll still be about 15 inches under the expected rainfall for the season.

I feel like Drumpf and his goons have some bombogenesis coming their way as well. This week, the January 6th Commission found Steve Bannon in criminal contempt and referred his prosecution to the DOJ. This move has scared multiple other insurrection conspirators into cooperating with the Committee, including Jeffery Clark, the goon who was trying to force the DOJ into overturning the election by fiat. We will have to see what the DOJ does next – I am not one of those who thinks Garland should resign after 2.5 seconds in the DOJ, but I do think he should quickly decide to prosecute. This should not be a tough decision – the law is the law.

The House’s vote 229-202 vote Thursday to hold Bannon in contempt for defying its January 6 committees’ subpoenas sets in motion a court process that begins with prosecutors considering legal questions and building a case.

The DC US Attorney’s office received the referral via a courier Thursday night. It could decline to charge Bannon, charge him quickly, or use a grand jury to investigate and indict the longtime adviser to former President Donald Trump.

I’ll be watching both of these approaching storms with great interest. How’s the weather in your area, Shinners?

This is an open thread.

Hello Widdershins! What a week. As usual, the Beltway press was salivating and the pundits were putting debt default countdown clocks on every show because McConnell Said The Republicans Wouldn’t Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling OMG! We’re all going to dieeeeeeeee!

But that didn’t happen, mainly because the Democrats threatened to nuke the filibuster. Apparently, McConnell didn’t think Manchin and Sinema would withstand the pressure from the rest of the caucus, who all want to do SOMETHING about the 60-vote rule, in this very dire situation. McTurtle blinked, and 11 Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling. And some members of his own Party are shaking their heads. Lady Lindsey, Ted Cruz and (of course!) der Drumpfenfuhrer are calling it capitulation. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer mildly and rightfully criticized all Republicans for bringing the U.S. to the point of financial ruin to try to win some pathetic partisan advantage. [Thanks for facepalming behind him, Joe Manchin – I don’t even have words at this point.]

Upon receiving bad reviews from the left and the right, McTurtle went on offense to try to make himself look less weak. In an embarrassing letter to President Biden, he sputtered in hypocritical fauxrage, lambasting Schumer and making hollow threats. Yeah Mitch, we know. You’re very powerful. Do you need some warm milk?

“[Schumer’s] tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

This is, of course, complete Kentucky Derby horse pucky. I’m sure you all know this, but I feel compelled to point out that all of the spending McConnell claims to be upset about has already been authorized! Indeed, $7T of it came from the maladministration of The Former Guy, and even if the Democrats hadn’t passed ANY spending bills in 2021, the ceiling would still have to be raised. This means that trying to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised doesn’t have any impact on future Democratic spending. At all.

The way this went down proves that the Rethugs are indeed terrified that the Democrats will alter the filibuster in some way, robbing them of any power whatsoever, and that McTurtle, despite all the ink and screen time the pundits give him, is not immune to that threat.

Let’s see what happens when the codification of Roe v. Wade, passed on a party line vote in the House in late September, comes before the Senate. Will the Democrats have the same energy to protect these existential threats to the health of hundreds of millions of Americans, as they did to protect existential threats to the economy? Will they finally nuke the filibuster?

When women’s rights are on the table, McConnell is armed with thousands of years of white supremacy on his side to defeat them. The Beltway press and punditry are already saying the House bill has no chance in the Senate. I sincerely hope they’re wrong, again.

Open thread, as always. DYB, this musical selection is for you!

Happy Weekend Widdershins,

Crispy weather is in the air and leaves have turned various autumnal colors. What will winter bring us? Is there a special winter skunk to forecast the weather??

Meanwhile in DC another skunk, named Kyrsten Sinema, left DC negotiations on the infrastructure bill and went to AZ to attend a fundraiser. She then released a statement yelling at the House for delaying the vote on it. That her own behavior is a big reason it is delayed is lost on her. She is an odd sort of person…a troll more than a legislator. Manchin, being from a deep red state, makes sense. He’s wrong, but he makes sense. Sinema is completely unpredictable, which is what makes her dangerous. She doesn’t have to act this way; her fellow AZ Democrat Mark Kelly doesn’t act like this. But she is just….ugh.

This is an open thread!


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Our President

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