Courting a Supreme Disaster

Well, this fortnight sure kicked off with a bang. The news was still breaking as our stalwart team of volunteers was distributing our paper of May 17th.

The front page of the previous day’s New York Times had featured a photograph showing an upside-down U.S. flag flying outside the Alexandria, Virginia home of Samuel Alito.

As the Flag Police can attest, lately the public has become largely inured to seeing the Stars and Stripes displayed in ways that violate the Flag Code. Seeing one hanging upside down, though, outside the crib of a Supreme Court Justice, was as unexpected as the Spanish Inquisition.

The photo was not current, but that only made things worse. It had been taken, the Times said, on January 17, 2021—“three days before the Biden inauguration.”

Yes… which also made it 11 days after dozens of such inverted flags had been carried into the Capitol by insurrectionists, bent on treason, to wit: preventing that inauguration.

Justice Alito’s immediate response was to pull a Menendez: the senior Senator for New Jersey, when caught with a suspicious amount of cash and mess of gold bars in his home, blamed it on his spouse. Alito claimed his wife had put up the inverted flag in response to a neighbor’s anti-Trump yard sign and verbal insults.

Later reports suggest that Alito’s statements about the timing of events were, shall we say, short on credibility. In theory it would be possible to compare the proliferating accounts of the incident, weigh their relative veracity, and come to some reasonable conclusion as to whether Alito is telling the truth—a lot of effort for a paltry result.

Besides, treating Alito’s claims with such delicacy would presume that he deserves the benefit of the doubt. That presumption vanished just days after the first flag flap, when another report revealed that an “Appeal to Heaven” flag had been photographed at Alito’s New Jersey beach house.

Alito apologists were quick to equivocate about the tree flag’s true meaning, and drone on about its history, but—at least to those outside the Trump cult—the damage had been done.

We had one Justice, Clarence Thomas, married to a coup insider. Now there are two men on the Court closely linked to the January 6th effort to stop the inauguration of the winner of the 2020 election, and put a fascist lunatic in his place.

“Treason doth never prosper. What’s the reason? Why if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” – Shakespeare

Comatose at the Post

Nine days after the inverted flag story broke in the Times, the Washington Post followed up with a bizarre confession: the Post had the story in 2021. Its editors just didn’t think it was newsworthy.

A Post reporter following up on a tip about the flag went to the Alitos’ home on Inauguration Day. Robert Barnes, the reporter, “encountered the couple coming out of the house. Martha-Ann Alito was visibly upset by his presence, demanding that he ‘get off my property.’

“As he described the information he was seeking, she yelled, ‘It’s an international signal of distress!’”

According to the Post account, Alito then “directed” his wife into the car and “denied the flag was hung upside down as a political protest.” She got out again, shouted “Ask them what they did!”, got back into the car, got out again, ran a “novelty” flag up the flagpole, and yelled, “There! Is that better?”

Editorial opinions will inevitably vary, but if we had known in 2021 that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice was channeling Martha Mitchell, we’d have immediately run with it.

Chris Greidner, of the blog LawDork, makes a couple of interesting points about the Post’s failure: “the Post had to have, at least passively, made the decision not to report this news many times over the past three-plus years.”For example, in March of 2022, when the Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa broke the news that Ginni Thomas had been texting—none dare call it conspiring with—White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.


A Somber Memorial Day

Speaking of the sins of the Washington Post, on May 18, that paper published an otherwise undistinguished think piece asserting that “Biden and Trump [are] often mangling names, places, dates and historical events, or routinely uttering ‘word salad….’”

Here’s a pop quiz: was it Biden or Trump who posted the following message on Monday: “Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country… .” The text in question then lurched into a genre we might as well call ‘stream of unconsciousness,’ complete with Idiosyncratic Capitalization, exclamation points galore, and insults.

In other news about the guy who may end up back in the Oval Office come next January 21st, Donald Trump recently took time out from napping at the defense table to solicit a billion dollar bribe from oil industry executives in exchange for nuking Joe Biden’s climate agenda.

His campaign put out a video that featured the term “unified reich” in several places.

And he claimed that President Biden tried to get the FBI to assassinate him during the Mar-a-Lardo raid.


As Goes Texas…

“[T]he most consequential plank [of the Texas Republican Party platform] calls for a constitutional amendment to require that candidates for statewide office carry a majority of Texas’ 254 counties to win an election…. such a requirement would effectively end Democrats’ chances of winning statewide office.”

The Texas Tribune


Those Hard-Working Job Creators

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute recently released new figures on income in the state, which research director Phil Sletten summarized in the New Hampshire Business Review earlier this month. The results remind us of a favorite saying, frequently credited to Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Things are more like they are now than they have ever been.”

The combined average gross income [AGI] of the Granite State’s 1.1 million tax payers for the four years 2018 through 2021 came to $65.2 billion, of which salaries and wages made up 66.6 percent. [If it weren’t for that danged separation of church and state, we could have the State Exorcist nudge that figure a little higher or lower.]

The rest of the income came from taxable interest and dividends, net capital gains, and net business, profession, partnership, or S-corporation income.

“However,” writes Sletten, “this source distribution changes substantially for the highest income filers.” Those reporting incomes over $1 million derived only 30 percent of that from salaries and wages; the remainder came from other sources, primarily capital gains.

“Total AGI also grew substantially between 2020 and 2021, rising about 20.2 percent in total. Wage and salary income increased by 10.5 percent, while capital gains rose 94.1 percent. The number of filers reporting more than $1 million in income rose by 51.3 percent, and income for this group rose 92 percent, comprising 61.6 percent of the total increase in income.”

“While some Granite Staters saw a sharp rise in income, increases were not evenly distributed. Between 2020 and 2021, the average income for filers with AGIs between $25,000 and $75,000 rose about $540 (1.2 percent), while the average increase was about $885,910 (26.9 percent) for filers with more than $1 million AGI. Granite Staters with incomes supported by capital gains, who were likely to have higher incomes, experienced much more growth in their earnings than those more reliant on employment income.”


Conservative Think Tank Admits GOP Fiscal Discipline Is Dead

According to the “man bites dog” rule, this is news: a right wing think tank just sent us a press release telling the truth about the Republican Party.

In what it called a “Major Shift in Republican Party Ideology,” The Institute for Legislative Analysis [ILA] announced, “‘Culture War’ Replaces ‘Fiscal Discipline’ Republican Voting Analysis Confirms.”

“‘The data confirms what many have suspected—the Tea Party movement is officially dead. The Republican party is in a new movement grounded on populism and focused on winning the culture wars,’ said Ryan McGowan, CEO of the Institute for Legislative Analysis.”

ILA deserves some credit, we suppose, for having confirmed the obvious, but not too much. Yes, they spotted the culture war—but they ignored the cult.


Feel Good Story Time… Sort Of

Knowing that the news can have a terrible cumulative weight, we’ve been looking for some happy news—and we found some!

It does begin rather badly. Squeaks, a lovely five-year-old seal point Siamese cat, had a three-story fall. Paradoxically, Squeaks might have been better off if she’d fallen farther. After five stories, cats are thought to relax, which distributes the force of impact and reduces the likelihood of broken bones.

As it happened, Squeaks broke both hind legs. Her humans gave her the best of care: surgery, plates, screws, the whole nine yards. Unfortunately, one leg because infected, and had to be amputated.

Then the other leg became infected. The humans gave her at least five different antibiotics. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t help. They were up against the dreaded Pseudomonas aeruginosa, “a multidrug resistant pathogen recognized for its ubiquity, its intrinsically advanced antibiotic resistance mechanisms, and its association with serious illnesses [and] high resistance to several antibiotics… one of the greatest threats to humans in terms of antibiotic resistance.”

But then, as in a Greek play—when gods were lowered onto the stage by a contraption to which the audience pretends to be oblivious—some medical researchers suggested trying personalized bacteriophage therapy. This sci-fi approach to medicine attacks the bacterium P. aeruginosa by infecting it with a virus. In conjunction with a more traditional antibiotic, the treatment eventually, over the course of 14 weeks, resulted in a complete cure.

This story was first reported in the Israeli paper Haaretz. The bacteriophage therapy was managed by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Perhaps, if such advanced medical resources are available for the species Felis catus, they might some day reach Homo sapiens, fifty miles away in Gaza.

2 thoughts on “Courting a Supreme Disaster”

  1. Hi – I just subscribed to receive my very own copy of this splendid tome of truth & humor! (Is tome the right word?) I’ve loved this paper for DECADES, and I love that you leave free copies all over town, but it’s high time I contribute and read every issue.

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