Tuesday/ Senator Warnock wins

Senator Raphael Warnock (D) prevailed over Herschel Walker (R) tonight in Georgia’s run-off election.
That means democracy in Georgia still works, more or less.
(Walker did not lose by much, even though he is utterly unqualified to be a US Senator. Today, election day, a work day, the polls were open only from 7 am until 7 pm. Georgia election officials, supported by the Republican Party, tried to prevent 70,000 citizens from voting early on Saturday Nov. 26. At the end, 13 judges had rejected Republicans’ effort to restrict voting, and the voters won back their right to cast early votes).

Tuesday/ trumpeting another run🎺

The caption says 2024 is Trump’s third bid, but it’s really his fourth. He ran in 2000 as a Reform Party candidate and withdrew after 5 months. (And then again in 2016 and in 2020, of course).

It’s a long road to Nov. 2024, but this should never have happened. Trump should have long been impeached (and found guilty) or have been indicted.
What a sorry shambles for the Republican Party, the Department of Justice, and for the citizens of the United States.

Saturday/ it’s clear: no red wave 🌊

It’s now official: the Democrats are holding the Senate.
News broke late on Sat. night that Catherine Cortez Masto (D) from Nevada has enough votes to hold her Senate seat.

So the Democrats have reached 50 in the Senate, and there is still the run-off election in Georgia on Dec. 6.
The House is still a toss-up.
Trump is toast, no matter what his ‘big announcement’ next Tuesday may be.

Artist Barry Blitt illustrating the ‘red wave’ that wasn’t, on the cover of The New Yorker magazine.
(The elephant is the mascot of the Republican Party. Or is that Trump, the elephant in the room for Republicans?).
The race in district WA03 drew national attention.
The result: Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, a Democrat, prevailed over Joe Kent, a Republican endorsed by Trump. This is the former seat of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who had voted to impeach Trump* and consequently had lost the 2022 Republican primary to Kent.
*Beutler voted NO for Trump’s first impeachment, and YES for the second impeachment post-Jan. 6, 2020.

Wednesday/ the midterm election results, so far 🗳

The cover of today’s New York Post.
Many Trump-backed candidates lost or were faring poorly.
Pennsylvania: Democrat Josh Shapiro beat Republican Doug Mastriano for governor. Democrat John Fetterman defeated Mehmet Oz.
Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defeated Tudor Dixon.
Arizona: Kari Lake & Blake Masters, “America First” candidates in Mr. Trump’s mold, were both behind in their races for governor and Senate, respectively.

How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024? -Scott Jennings, one of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s former deputies

The Republican red wave in the 2022 mid-term election that Fox News ‘pundits’ had predicted did not materialize. (It does appear that the Republicans will win the House by a slim majority).

Control of the Senate may very well come down to the Dec. 6 run-off election in Georgia between incumbent Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R).

A summary of the status of the Senate and House as of late Wednesday night.
[Infographic by the Washington Post].

Sunday/ Georgia’s senators

Here are Georgia’s two senators (both Democrats), working the crowds at this weekend’s Atlanta Gay Pride Festival.
Looking sharp !

Sen. Raphael Warnock (53) on the left, and Sen. Jon Ossoff (35) on the right.
Sen. Warnock is running against ex-football star Hershel Walker (60) in what should not even be a close race (Warnock leads by 4% or so in the polls). Walker has zero political experience, and is an anti-abortion rights candidate accused of paying for a former sexual partner’s abortion in 2009 (she has the receipt and a get-well card from him).
Sen. Ossoff will be up for reelection in 2026.
[Photo posted by Jon Ossoff @ossoff on Twitter]

Saturday/ one month to the mid-term election 📃

The 2022 mid-term election is one month away.

Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House, Democrat) said on The Stephen Colbert Show recently that the Democrats will keep the House.
Karl Rove (political consultant) concluded in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that ‘The three most plausible scenarios are a 50-50 Senate, 51-49 Republican or 51-49 Democrat. A 52-48 Senate either way is possible but unlikely’.

It’s not just about control in the House and Senate, though.
Some gubernatorial races (for governor of a State) are neck-and-neck, and if 2020 Election Outcome Deniers (Republicans) win those, it could make for serious trouble in the 2024 general election.
In Arizona and Georgia, the Republican gubernatorial candidates say they would not have certified Biden’s win in 2020. (The incumbent Republican governors both did.)

The cover of The New Yorker magazine 4 years ago, after the 2018 mid-term elections.
The artist is Barry Blitt. The description was ‘Welcome to Congress: Newly elected, diverse group of Representatives come through the door into a colorless line drawing of current white male members of congress’.
We still need more women to vote, more women to become representatives and senators, and of course:  we still have not had a female president in the United States.

Monday/ Britain’s new PM

So it’s goodbye to Boris Johnson, and Britons have their fourth prime minister in six years, in Liz Truss. She is Britain’s third female leader, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

The new PM will have to deal with inflation, Ukraine, energy security with winter approaching, the NHS, the contrails of Brexit and a general election that isn’t too far away.

Liz Truss is announced as the new Conservative Party (‘Tory’) leader and Prime Minister, after Boris Johnson had been ousted by his own Conservative Party in July. In Britain, prime ministers are not directly elected by the public. General elections work more like congressional elections in the United States: the public votes for local representatives to send to the U.K.’s legislature, the parliament. The leader of the party that wins the most seats in the parliament generally becomes the prime minister.
[Still from BBC video clip]

Friday/ medicine for inflation

The House passed the massive piece of legislation called the Inflation Reduction Act today (the Senate had already passed it). There are lots of really good stuff in it.

John Cassidy writes for The New Yorker magazine: The Inflation Reduction Act contains the biggest effort to tackle climate change that the U.S. government has taken. Right now, thanks largely to the retirement of coal-fired electricity plants, the country is on track to reduce its carbon emissions by about thirty per cent by 2030, compared to 2005. By providing about $370 billion in tax credits over ten years for solar and wind producers, as well as for the purchase of electric vehicles, the new bill will increase the emissions reduction to about forty per cent, according to several expert analyses. The House gave final congressional approval on Friday to a spending bill which would attempt to tackle climate change, the high cost of prescription drugs and lower the deficit by roughly $300 billion. It was passed without any Republican support and now goes to President Biden for his signature.

Uncle Joe the Magician (President Biden) will sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law next week.  Yes, nothing in life is guaranteed, but this bill is not inflationary (spending money that is not gained elsewhere). It aims to reduce the deficit by raising corporate taxes, and will save the federal government and citizens money on prescription medicines and medical bills. And it fights carbon emissions in a big way. [Cartoon by Tom Stiglich]
Graphic by the NYT showing the spending and savings/ new revenue for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Saturday/ the Platinum Jubilee 👑

2022: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, appearing with family members on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. She is flanked, from far left, by Princess Anne; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Prince Charles. From far right, Prince William; Price George; Princess Charlotte; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; and Prince Louis.
1953: The Queen on the balcony after her coronation, with Prince Charles, Princess Anne and husband Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh) to her left.
Photos: Top- Hannah McKay/ Reuters, Bottom- Associated Press.

There has never before been a Platinum Jubilee in the United Kingdom. No king or queen before Elizabeth II had ever reigned for 70 years— but ‘the power concentrated in the British crown began diminishing in the 19th century, and it has continued to shrink during Elizabeth II’s time as queen’, writes Hayes Brown for MSNBC.

After Elizabeth had ascended the throne in 1952, the British Empire dissolved as colonial states, dominions and protectorates gained their independence, one by one.
(The Union of South Africa gained its independence from Britain in May 1961 and became the Republic of South Africa. Northern Rhodesia became Zambia in 1964, Botswana gained independence in 1966, and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1979.)

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act of 2011 took away her ability to dissolve parliaments at her whim.
In practice, is the UK Parliament, and not the Queen’s Privy Council, that sets laws and carries them out.

The Queen is very popular, especially among older Britons (the rest of the royal family, not so much).
Will the monarchy survive? Time will tell, but there may not be another another Jubilee for several decades to come, given how old the heirs nearest to the throne are.

Sunday/ no such thing as a lone wolf

We had multiple mass murders here in the States this weekend, after multiple ones last week. (There is basically a mass murder every day: 198 so far this year). The killer (18 years old, white, male —of course) responsible for yesterday’s slaughter of 10 at the supermarket in Buffalo was clearly a domestic terrorist.
Was he a lone wolf?
Rolling Stone magazine opines that there is no such thing .. and that the shooter is pretty much a main-stream Republican.

From Rolling Stone: There’s no such thing as a lone wolf — an appellation often given, in error, to terrorists who act alone, particularly those of the white supremacist variety. There are only those people who, fed a steady diet of violent propaganda and stochastic terror, take annihilatory rhetoric to its logical conclusion.

Such was the case on Saturday, when a teenaged white supremacist named Payton Gendron opened fire in a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people, while livestreaming the carnage on the live-video site Twitch. Prior to the shooting, he had posted a 180-page manifesto in which he laid out his rationale clearly: He was an adherent of what is called Great Replacement Theory, the idea that white people, in the United States and white-majority countries around the world, are being systematically, deliberately outbred and “replaced” by immigrants and ethnic minorities, in a deliberate attempt to rid the world of whiteness ..

..the gnawing fear of a minority-white America has utterly consumed conservative politics for the past half-decade, creating a Republican party whose dual obsessions with nativism and white fertility have engendered a suite of policies engineered to change the nature of the body politic. What unites murderers like Gendron, and the long list of white supremacist attackers he cited with admiration, with the mainstream of the Republican party is the dream of a white nation.

The Rolling Stone article points to the constellation of rightwing media, with Fox News at the front, and Tucker Carlson’s prime-time show that is obsessed with replacement theory and the grievances of white people. Make that ‘grievances’, the delusion that it is.

Tuesday/ ‘the Supreme Court might never recover’

From news website Axios: an assessment of the ideological scores of the nine Supreme Court justices. (Note: Justice Stephen Breyer will retire soon, and the Court will at long last get its first Black female justice, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson).
SO. If you lean liberal or progressive (you want to make progress with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in your country), you want at least 5 justices on the left. We are short by two.

The current U.S. Supreme court is already considered by many (and by me), as unrepresentative of the majority of Americans.  (An immoral, criminal con man —that had become President with an assist from Russian bots on Facebook⁠— had appointed three of the current nine Supreme Court justices).

And now it’s clearer than ever that the six conservatives on the Court plan to overturn Roe vs. Wade (the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, with a 7-2 majority, in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.)

Here is what the Washington Post’s Editorial Board wrote today.

The Supreme Court might never recover from overturning Roe v. Wade

By the Washington Post Editorial Board

On Monday, Politico published a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling declaring that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to end their pregnancies. The court later confirmed that the document, written in February, is genuine, but emphasized that it is not the court’s final word. We hope not. If the justices embrace the sweeping document, they will deal a grievous blow to freedom in the United States — and to the legitimacy of the court itself.

Such a leak from the court’s typically tight inner sanctum is itself astonishing. The court works on trust among justices and staff, so that the justices can deliberate frankly. Whether the document leaked from a conservative justice’s chambers, in an effort to lock in the support of others on the right for its far-reaching language, or from a liberal’s, in an effort to mobilize outside pressure against such a ruling, the leak represents a dire breakdown in norms and another dramatic sign of the court’s political drift.

But the draft ruling’s dreadful reasoning and extreme potential consequences are far more concerning than what the leak says about the court’s internal dynamics. Written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the document would declare Roe “egregiously wrong,” obliterate its guarantees of reproductive choice and empower lawmakers to abridge at will this long-held right.

The court’s legitimacy rests on the notion that it follows the law, not the personal or ideological preferences of the justices who happen to serve on it at any given time. Americans rely on the court to exercise care and restraint against making sharp turns that might suddenly declare their everyday choices and activities unprotected or illegal. Over the course of nearly half a century, the court not only issued Roe but upheld its bedrock principles against later challenges. Throughout, the original 1973 decision enjoyed broad and unwavering public support. What brought the court to its current precipice was not a fundamental shift in American values regarding abortion. It was the shameless legislative maneuvering of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who jammed two Trump-nominated justices onto the court.

In his draft, Justice Alito points out that the court has overturned many cases in the past, including the atrocious Plessy v. Ferguson, which permitted racial segregation. But the court has never revoked a fundamental constitutional right. Overturning Plessy expanded liberty. Overturning Roe would constrict liberty — and be a repugnant repudiation of the American tradition in which freedom extends to an ever-wider circle of people. By betraying this legacy and siding with the minority of Americans who want to see Roe overturned, the justices would appear to be not fair-minded jurists but reckless ideologues who are dangerously out of touch and hostile to a core American ethic.

Justice Alito complained in his draft that Roe failed to produce a “national settlement of the abortion issue” but only “enflamed debate and deepened division.” That exaggerates the extent to which the obstreperous minority of Americans who oppose Roe reflect the nation as a whole. A Post poll found just last week that Americans support upholding Roe by a 2-to-1 margin. For most people, Roe is a workable standard on a fraught issue; absent a clear understanding about when life begins, and with the moral implications surrounding that question far from settled, the Constitution’s guarantees of personal autonomy demand that pregnant people be able to make the difficult decision about whether to end their pregnancy according to the dictates of their own conscience.

It is Justice Alito’s proposed decision that would further divide the country, starting in nearly every statehouse. Yet the greatest casualties would not be the court as an institution or the nation’s already toxic politics. It would be pregnant individuals suddenly stripped of a right they had been guaranteed for almost half a century. Wealthy people would be able to cross state lines to end their pregnancies. (Although some states are already trying to outlaw that practice, as well.) Poor people would be forced either to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, with all the health consequences and risks that entails, or to seek illegal abortions that could endanger their lives.

Justice Alito’s draft claims that the court’s ruling would not imply that other constitutional rights, such as same-sex marriage or access to contraception, are in jeopardy. But given the brazen abandon with which he would discard abortion rights, his assurances ring hollow. He would inaugurate a terrifying new era in which Americans would lose faith in the court, distrust its members and suspect that what is the law today will not be tomorrow. They would justifiably fear that rights will be swept away because a heedless conservative fringe now controls the judiciary.

“The republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith,” Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said as the cornerstone was laid for the Supreme Court Building in 1932. The court’s conservative majority appears to be on the verge of abandoning justices’ sacred charge to stand firm for individual rights.

Sunday/ five more years of Macron

France and Germany are Europe’s pillars, and policymakers in capitals across the continent had been watching the election with anxiety.
-The Washington Post

Macron won 59% of the vote, and Le Pen just 41% (I’m using round numbers), quite a bigger margin than the 10-12% that polls had suggested.
It’s a decisive win, given the stark political divides in liberal democracies around the world.

Abstention figures around the country were at their highest of any second-round vote in France since 1969, though .. and almost 9% of voters that did show up, cast a blank vote, or invalidated their ballots (by crossing out both candidates, for example).

Macron has won, but faces big challenges. The parliamentary elections take place in June, and Macron’s La Republique en Marche (LaREM) and allies need a majority of 289 MPs in the 577-seat lower house. There’s also a cost-of-living crisis in France for poor people, and Macron has not implemented the pension reforms he had promised for his first term— the foremost of which is to raise the retirement age to 65 by 2031 (for those not working hard physical jobs).

Tuesday/ 12 years of Obamacare

Former President Obama was in the White House today for the first time after leaving office (more than 5 years ago, Jan. 2017).

Obama was there to celebrate 12 years of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) with President Biden. They also announced that they are pursuing expanded coverage for families, and how to make it easier to enroll.

Also mentioned in the reporting today, was Biden’s famous hot-mike comment ‘This is a big f**king deal’, which he made in 2010 as the ACA was signed into law.
I couldn’t agree more.
The Affordable Care Act has saved me a lot of anguish⁠— and tens of thousands of dollars in health insurance costs, just over the last five years.

The East Room in the White House today. As former President Obama took the podium, he started with ‘Vice-President Biden, Vice President (Kamala Harris) .. ‘ then stopped. ‘That is a joke!’ he said, and walked over to shake President Biden’s hand.

Wednesday/ a black mark for South Africa

South Africa’s Ambassador Joyini believes Wednesday’s meeting should have encouraged negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
-As reported in The Citizen newspaper (explaining why South Africa abstained from voting in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine)

Hey Ambassador: stop with the bullsh**.
This is not complicated.
Russia invaded Ukraine (again).
Russia is the aggressor.
There is nothing left to negotiate.

141-5 with 35 abstentions: The results of a UN vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, March 2, 2022. What a disappointment, the abstention from South Africa (and for that matter Namibia as well).

Sunday/ go fly .. somewhere else

The airspace of the European Union’s entire 27-nation bloc will now be closed to Russian-owned, -registered or -controlled aircraft, “including the private jets of oligarchs”, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden on Sunday.
Countermeasures imposed by Russia will make it more difficult for European carriers to fly east, notably to Asia.
-Reported by Annabelle Timsit and Paulina Firozi in The Washington Post.

The map of the EU countries offer a nice geography refresher to me, especially of Eastern Europe.
The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland) is no longer part of the EU, of course.
Switzerland (on the east of France) never was, and never will be. (Never say never?)
That’s Belarus north of Ukraine— and check out that little blob of blue on the Baltic Sea, north of Poland. It’s Russian territory, an exclave called Kaliningrad Oblast.
It used to be part of East Prussia, and home to the German city of Königsberg. In the aftermath of World War II, it was given to Russia. In 1947-48 the German population was driven out, and Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in memory of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Mikhail Kalinin.

Thursday/ it’s not just about Ukraine

Columnist David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post, in an opinion piece called ‘Putin’s assault on Ukraine will shape a new world order’:
Now that Russian troops have surged into Ukraine, how does Putin plan to extricate himself? It’s likely that he hopes to keep Russian ground troops out of Kyiv and other big cities, instead using Spetsnaz special forces and FSB operatives to neutralize these targets. He will probably seek to install a puppet government. But here’s where U.S. officials believe Putin’s planning breaks down.

Map of tracking the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, from The New York Times on Thursday.

What Putin doesn’t appear to realize, with his vision of Russian-Ukrainian oneness, is that his bullying has deeply alienated Ukrainians. I saw that anti-Putin sentiment when I visited Kyiv in late January, and it’s undoubtedly even stronger now that Russian tanks are on the streets and jets are in the sky. Putin obviously believed his own rhetoric that Ukraine wasn’t a real country. That level of self-absorption so often leads to mistakes.

With his unprovoked invasion, Putin has shattered the international legal rules established after World War II, along with the European order that followed the Cold War. That old architecture was getting shaky, and it was destined to be replaced eventually.

The Ukraine assault, pitting a messianic Russian autocrat against the wishes of every other major nation, perhaps including China, will determine the shape of the new order to come. If Putin loses his battle to subjugate Ukraine, the new order will have a solid and promising foundation. If Putin wins, the new era will be very dangerous indeed.

Wednesday/ the Gazpacho Police .. are coming for our mazel tov cocktails

Marjorie Taylor Greene loves to propagate conspiracy theories, even though she is actually a sitting member of Congress. She represents Georgia’s District 14 in the House of Representatives. Hey Georgia: you can do better than this. November 2022 is your chance.

New: House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is railing against Pelosi’s “gazpacho police” — intending to refer to the Nazi Gestapo, itself a nonsense comparison, but instead referring to a cold tomato soup.
-Hugo Lowell @hugolowell on Twitter

Just to clear things up, @RepMTG
Gazpacho: a vegetable-based Spanish cold soup
Gestapo: Nazi Germany’s secret police
-The Republican Accountability Project @AccountableGOP

With the Gazpacho Police, every crime is a cold case
-Adam Blickstein@ AdamBlickstein

I hope all you Progressos out there are having a fun time
-George Conway aka Oficial de Policía de Gazpacho Conway @gtconway3d

I’ve met some members of the gazpacho police. They are consommé professionals.
-Danielle Decker Jones @djtweets

The Gazpacho Police have just chopped an unarmed tomato.
-Wajahat Ali@ WajahatAli

It won’t be funny when the Gazpacho police give you the burp walk.
-JoeReynoldsChief @JoeReynolds2020

Marjorie Taylor Greene, in condemning the harsh conditions facing the insurrectionists arrested on January 6, is comparing what they’re experiencing to what she read in Solzhenitsyn’s monumental work The Goulash Archipelago*.
-Peter Wehner @Peter_Wehner

*Greene contended that Washington DC jails are ‘DC gulags’.
The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Russian: Архипелаг ГУЛАГ, Arkhipelag GULAG) is a three-volume non-fiction text written between 1958 and 1968 by Russian writer and Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It was first published in 1973, and translated into English and French the following year. It covers life in what is often known as the Gulag, the Soviet forced labor camp system, through a narrative constructed from various sources including reports, interviews, statements, diaries, legal documents, and Solzhenitsyn’s own experience as a Gulag prisoner.

Tuesday/ will Putin, or won’t he?

Will Putin invade Ukraine?
President Biden is vowing to stop the start-up of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if he does, even though it’s unclear how much power Biden has to do this.

From the Washington Post:
What is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and why does it matter to Russia?
The project is a natural gas line from Russian fields to the German coast, spanning 764 miles under the Baltic Sea. The $11 billion line will double the capacity of the original 2011 Nord Stream, which runs parallel to the new project. The line will supply gas to Germany — a nation heavily dependent on gas and oil imports — at a relatively low cost as the continent’s production capacity decreases.

The new pipeline is entirely owned by Russian energy company Gazprom, which is majority government-owned. The company also owns 51 percent of the original Nord Stream pipeline. A group of European energy companies, including Shell and Wintershall, paid half the construction costs.

Construction was completed in September, and the pipeline has been filled with gas since late December. Before it becomes operational, though, it needs regulatory approval from Germany and a review by European Union authorities. The head of the German regulatory body said in December that a decision would not come until the second half of 2022 at the earliest.

Absorber columns at the Gazprom PJSC Slavyanskaya compressor station, the starting point of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in Ust-Luga, Russia, on Jan. 28. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News)
From the Washington Post: Ukraine and Poland vehemently oppose the pipeline. Ukraine has long been an energy middleman nation, with Russian companies feeding much of Europe’s gas supply through Ukrainian soil and paying the country transit fees in the process. Critics think Russia, in bypassing Ukraine, aims to weaken and isolate the nation.

Martin Luther King Day

It’s Martin Luther King Day, the day when Republican politicians trumpet their hypocrisy on Twitter. They would have us believe they support civil rights and voting rights for all Americans. (They do not).

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (born Jan 15, 1929; assassinated Apr. 4, 1968).
[Artwork is from a blog page on Levi Strauss & Co.’s web site, called ‘Reflecting on the Significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day’].