Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Enough With the Tweets

Good article by Margaret Sullivan on handling Trump.

Not everything Trump says or does deserves the same five-alarm level of outrage, or coverage. The president-elect's tweets criticizing the audience at the "Hamilton" musical are one thing. The proposed appointment of Jeff Sessions, with his history of racist behavior, as attorney general is quite another. (Rule of thumb: Tweets should get less attention. Actions should get more. Deep digging, even if not by one's own news organization, should get more still.)

I'm so sick of the tweeting already. 

The Coolest Maps

Gotta say it makes me nervous to click on their flicker account, though.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trump's Paper of Record

Alex Jones plays Jiminy Cricket to Trump's Pinocchio.

He also tweeted that there was "serious voter fraud" in three states that went for Hillary Clinton, "so why isn't the media reporting on this?"

The media wasn't reporting on this because it's a load of hooey. But one "media" outlet has been "reporting" the groundless allegations, and it's one that Trump relied on frequently during the campaign: Alex Jones's Infowars, the radio and Internet home of the grassy-knoll crowd.

Hard to believe all the stories that get over-looked by the mainstream media.

Jones has alleged that the U.S. government was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks (Jones posted an old video Monday in which Trump appeared to suggest that aircraft alone couldn't have brought down the towers), the Oklahoma City bombings and mass shootings such as Sandy Hook. Jones has said that "chemtrails" from airplanes spread a "weaponized flu," that juice boxes are part of a chemical-warfare operation to make children gay, that Justin Bieber is brainwashing children to create an American police state, that Obama murdered publisher Andrew Breitbart, that an "alien force not of this world" is targeting Trump, that intergalactic shape-shifting reptilian humanoids secretly control the world, and, of course, that water fluoridation is mass mind control.

What could go wrong getting news from a guy who's a bigger charlatan than Trump? 

Just Say He's a Liar and Keep Saying It

Yes, the Trumpkins will keep saying "the liberal media lies." But, they're going to say that anyway.

News outlets promptly fact-checked US President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday after he claimed, without any supporting evidence, that he had actually "won" the popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally" for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

In their online headlines, The New York Times publicized Mr. Trump's lack of evidence, National Public Radio reported on his "unfounded claim," The Washington Post called the statement a "conspiracy theory," and Politico said Trump's words conveyed "baseless assertions of voter fraud."

It's time to exit that post-truth or post-Enlightenment or post-whatever period we've been in. 

Throughout his campaign and in the weeks since his election, Trump has nursed an adversarial relationship with the press, complaining about critical coverage, alleging a widespread bias against him, and breaking presidential protocol by abandoning his press pool.

Tell him no more coverage of his vomited up tweets until he holds a news conference. I'm sick of the tweets!

Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, challenged media professionals on Tuesday to unite behind their shared values in the face of Trump's bullying rhetoric.

"Don't stand for being called or labeled 'lying' or 'crooked' or 'failing,' " she said, after accepting the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York for her work in furtherance of international press freedom. "We have to stand up together because divided we fall."

From her lips to God's and every news editor's ears. 

Ashes to Ashes

Because I'd rather think about death than Trump. It's so much happier.

Jennifer Beman wants to spend her death where she made her life, in her adopted home town of Takoma Park. Like others who have their cremated remains unofficially scattered in the Maryland city’s back yards and public parks, the 54-year-old likes the ashes-to-ashes idea of lingering eternally in her local ecosystem.

But Beman and a group of like-minded neighbors are going a step further than the kind of DIY ash-tossing that has grown common as cremation rates in the United States have doubled over the past 15 years. They are asking their city to set up the country’s first municipal “scatter garden,” a patch of memorial commons where residents could commingle in the soil of their burg — and where families could return to remember.

I've always thought graves were a big waste of real estate. The Taoists say to leave a small footprint when you go. My desire has been to have the ashes spread on either the compost heap or the garden. 

According to U.S. Funerals Online, you can have your departed shot into the sky as a firework, made part of a coffee mug, incorporated into a tattoo or squeezed at super pressure into a fake diamond.

Authorities mostly hold a don’t-ask-don’t-tell attitude toward the widespread practice of depositing ashes in national parks, forests and other public places. The remains — three to five pounds of calcium phosphate that has been baked at nearly 2,000 degrees — isn’t considered a toxin.

Yes, the compost pile beats being a coffee mug. Can't imagine drinking coffee out of a cup made of someone's cremains even if it is only calcium phosphate. 

Link to a great post at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

Let’s convert cemeteries into forests!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Jeff Sessions:Still An Asshole

He was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate once. Can Jefferson Beauregard go two in a row? Maybe if J. Gerald Hebert testifies.

So once again, I am adding my personal encounters with Sessions to the public record.

The comments I heard him make are three decades old, but his consistent policy positions over the years speak volumes. He falsely charged three African-American civil rights activists in Alabama, including a longtime adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., with 29 counts of mail fraud, altering absentee ballots and attempting to vote multiple times. The evidence showed that these activists were simply helping elderly African-American voters complete mail-in ballots. All were acquitted of every charge.

He has promoted the myth of voter-impersonation fraud despite overwhelming evidence that it is exceedingly rare. He has ignored the racial impact of voting restrictions, which have a well-documented negative effect on minority communities, the impoverished and the elderly. He has disagreed that people are sometimes denied the right to vote, and proclaimed victory in the wake of Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. Sessions asserted that “Shelby County has never had a history of denying voters” — willfully discounting the Alabama county’s recent history of discriminatory voting changes.

Jeff Sessions, take your hood and go home.

Why All the Emphasis on the Meaning of Words

Semantics is so over-rated.

Part of the problem with trying to identify the meaning of Trump’s words is that Trump himself does not put too much stock in them. From his very first book — which he didn’t write — Trump proclaimed his faith in “truthful hyperbole.” His rise to political prominence came from lying about President Obama’s citizenship status. During his presidential campaign, Trump and his aides gaslighted on a regular basis: In one debate, Trump flatly denied that he had called global warming a Chinese hoax — when he very clearly had . According to every reputable fact-checker, Trump lied far more frequently than Hillary Clinton.

This really surprised me to hear that leaders of countries are generally candid with each other.

But after a campaign in which he faced almost no consequences for lying or exaggerating, Trump will be moving to a far different arena. Getting caught bluffing in international politics is embarrassing. Getting caught in an outright lie is more dangerous. When it comes to foreign policy, American presidents have had a habit of telling the truth. Sure, they sometimes lie — John F. Kennedy lied to hide the fact that Soviet removal of nuclear weapons from Cuba in 1962 was contingent on the United States withdrawing Jupiter missiles from Turkey. But that was a lie to the American people. In his book “Why Leaders Lie,” political scientist John Mearsheimer came to the surprising conclusion that foreign policy leaders rarely lie to other governments.

There are sound reasons to believe that lying is not a viable strategy in the long run. The United States is the most powerful country in the world, but it is not all-powerful — it still needs friends and partners.

We need friends and partners? I thought we were the indispensable, rugged individualist nation that could go it alone.  

Remember We Have Elected the Muscovite Candidate

I realize the Republican-led Congress is never going to investigate this. They, of course, are still going to be looking into Hillary's e-mails. I'm hopeful that some wonderful journalist will tackle this story and receive a nice big Pulitzer. I mean even if it never becomes click-bait on Facebook.

U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government actively interfered in our elections. Russian state propaganda gave little doubt that this was done to support Republican nominee Trump, who repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin and excused the Russian president’s foreign aggression and domestic repression. Most significantly, U.S. intelligence agencies have affirmed that the Russian government directed the illegal hacking of private email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and prominent individuals. The emails were then released by WikiLeaks, which has benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. 

To some extent, I suppose it's karma. We've screwed with the elections in so many countries. Congratulations Vlad, you got the Idiot King elected.

Putin is pursuing large strategic goals: recognition of the annexation of Crimea and international acceptance of foreign aggression to change state borders; Russian control of all of Ukraine; weakening or even dissolution of the European Union and NATO; restoration of Russia as a great power; and restored dominance over the former Soviet bloc and its environs. In pursuing these aims, Putin is engaged in a disciplined effort to influence democratic politics in the West, including financial and propaganda support for the narrow Brexit victory and for a network of far-right (and pro-Russian) nationalist political parties and groups throughout Europe. Now he has achieved what had to have been his most improbable goal: helping elect a sympathetic U.S. president who wants to form an alliance against terrorism. What will Trump give in exchange? He has already reaffirmed his intention to end support for pro-Western rebels in Syria, which effectively gives Russia a free hand to make President Bashar al-Assad its satrap. The greater danger is Trump’s attitude toward NATO as a “soft” alliance that, like the Western powers in 1939, won’t “die for Danzig.” It would mean the alliance’s end.

The only question is who got the bigger benefit from Trump's election: Russia or China?

Get Over It, You Won

One idiot can ruin a whole flight.

She asked if he could record him with her cell phone.

“He said, ‘Go ahead! I want to tell everyone about Trump. I hope it goes viral,'” Baum said.

In the video, the man can be heard saying “Really? Ain’t nobody going to say s*it on this plane?”

A woman can be heard yelling, “we can’t hear you!” And he then starts yelling, “Donald Trump, baby! We got some Hillary b*tches on this plane?”

Before sitting down, the man says, “Trump is your president! Every goddamn one of you. If you don’t like it, too bad.”

This is the only way he should have been allowed back on the airplane.

I guess I should link to this at Charles Pierce's. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Another Warrior in a Lost Cause Again

I can't believe these guys keep writing. This is number four writing to defend the Electoral College. NY state has already signed on to the National Popular Vote compact. Hail Cuomo!

As a New Orleans Saints fan, I am outraged!  

The results of Thursday night’s (Nov. 17) football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers were totally unfair! The Saints had 28 first downs vs. 17 for the Panthers. Total yardage: Saints 371 vs. Panthers 223; Yards rushing: Saints 107 vs. Panthers 50; Passing: Saints 264 vs. Panthers 173; Punt returns: Saints 46 vs. Panthers 10.

The Panthers lost the ball due to a fumble and the Saints did not. The Saints had the ball for 32 minutes and 15 seconds, the Panthers, 27 minutes 45 seconds.

After beating the Panthers in all these categories, the NFL declared the Carolina Panthers the winners! Why? Because the Panthers scored 3 more points than the Saints. I'm outraged I tell you, outraged!

We need to petition our next president of the United States to force the NFL to start playing "our version" of "fair" rather than decades of predetermined rules. This reeks of the 1960 World Series when the New York Yankees played the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the series, the Yankees scored 55 runs, the Pirates scored 27 runs. Major League Baseball declared the Pirates the winner! Why? Even though the Yankees scored twice as many runs than the Pirates, the "rules" required the winner of the most games to be "Champion."

The Electoral College was one of the most ingenious inventions our founders created. Every true "democracy" has failed.  

The USA is a republic, thus it’s a success.   

I thought I'd stumbled off the editorial page onto the sports page at first. I've used up my letters for the next couple of weeks, being allowed only 2 per 30 days. Probably wouldn't bother anyway. I'd love to point out to him that if the Electoral College ran the NFL it's quite possible the Saints would be getting 3 points for a field goal and the Panthers 8, 9, 10 or maybe 11. And BTW, there are people outraged because Hillary Clinton lost while scoring receiving arond 2 million more votes than Donald Trump.

And if he thinks the EC is so genius he might have spent the letter explaining why instead of the lame analogy.

Franklin Graham Doesn't Know God

I saw this quote in an E. J. Dionne column the other day. Seems like a good place for it.

Kimberly Moffitt, a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, called my attention to Charles Gaba's powerful tweet: "Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn't a deal-breaker." I'd invite everyone at our Thanksgiving table to think hard about this.

If anyone has Franklin Graham's e-mail handy maybe shoot that off to him. 

To Franklin Graham, overt racism is anathema. But he thanks God for the same triumph that the white nationalists of the alt-right celebrate because Graham inherited a religion that accommodated itself to slavery in America and has morphed over and again for 150 years to fuel every backlash against progress toward racial justice in American history.

I realize it's not going to help. Maybe his God is paying attention, though.

God did not intervene on Trump’s behalf in this year’s election, but the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association did. Organizing prayer rallies in all 50 state capitols, Franklin Graham spent $10 million in 2016 to rally a backlash against President Obama in God’s name. It was a strategic investment. Eighty-one percent of evangelicals voted for Trump. Just weeks before Election Day, when Graham concluded his national tour here in North Carolina, he stood on the steps of our old state capitol and told thousands of faithful followers that they needed to know the true name for those of us who call ourselves progressives: atheists.

Sadly, our brother Franklin believes that a god who does not bless white America’s fear and nostalgia is no god at all. But right here on the very capital grounds where Graham uttered his heresy, we have witnessed the power of God to unite a diverse coalition of people committed to justice and mercy through Moral Mondays. That movement, which produced the nation’s largest-ever state-government-focused civil disobedience in 2013, spread to 32 other states through this year’s Moral Revival. And while Trumpism swept the South with Graham’s blessing, North Carolina’s Pat McCrory is on the verge of becoming the only Republican incumbent in the nation to lose the governor’s office.

They're going to have a lot to answer for. 

Quote of the Day

Haven't done one of these in a while and I really loved this woman's statement of bafflement.

Kelly Rodriguez, 47, who lives in Tampa, Florida, voted for Trump and is a single mother who claims two of her four children as dependents. (Her ex-husband claims the other two.) She made roughly $90,000 last year, including alimony payments. Her taxes would likely rise under Trump's plan, according to Batchelder's analysis.

"I would want him to explain that to me," she said. "Taxes have to make sense to the people paying them."

Yeah, he'll probably tweet that right out to you. There's gonna be a lot of voter's remorse the next 4 years. Maybe I'll let Andrew Cuomo know that the taxes I pay to NY state don't make sense to me. And maybe he'll say don't bother paying them. Maybe.

Putin Doesn't Know America

If he thinks giving a passport to Steven Seagal is going to thaw relations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented actor Steven Seagal with a Russian passport on Friday in a show of friendly relations with the U.S., according to NBC News.

Seagal signed his passport in front of Putin at a Kremlin ceremony. Putin said he hoped it would serve as a symbol of how tense ties between Moscow and Washington, D.C. were starting to improve.

I think I speak for most Americans in saying Seagal is a dick. And God, I miss Spy magazine who were the first to tell me he's a dick, then Lorne Michaels second.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It's So Sad When Bad People are Sad

Or not.

Many of Trump’s more high-profile fans, surrogates, and allies are angry about this about-face and insist “Crooked Hillary”—as Trump dubbed her throughout the campaign—be locked up.

“I’m hearing from people who are livid at Hillary, they’re still mad,” Rush Limbaugh, the famous conservative talk show host, said on Tuesday afternoon. “There are a lot of people who really thought that when Trump said ‘You oughta be in jail,’ that they agreed with that and thought that she should be!”

And they may get sadder yet.

But now that he’s entering office, Trump is not so sure—and it raises questions about how serious he was about any of his promises, to the chagrin of his most ardent backers.


Does Sir Roderick remind you of anyone?

You and I, Jeeves. At least if the working masses are Trump supporters.

TPM points out that Hillary got a thumb's up from Trumpius Maximus. 

The personal desires of the President, his mercy, is irrelevant to this kind of decision. Either there is something to investigate or there's not - and a lengthy investigation that came up with nothing to prosecute suggests there isn't anything. This isn't the Colosseum where everyone waits on the Emperor's thumbs up or down. 

Floating down my stream of consciousness brings to mind this piece (of shit) in my local paper from John Yoo. 

Wow, imagine that, Torture Guy from the Bush administration with an opinion piece right here in the liberal media. A few points:

The president-elect should promise a pardon, on day one, for Hillary Clinton. ... Many Americans believe Clinton was guilty of conduct that would trigger prosecution of a lesser figure.

Hillary has not been charged with anything, but this would add the presumption of guilt. No thanks to the pardon. If Trump wants to charge her, let him do so. A lot of people believe a lot of nonsense. That's why Trump is the president.

Trump should announce a nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat of Justice Antonin Scalia immediately.

Yes, and it should be Merritt Garland. And save the quotes from the Constitution since you're the guy who had the interesting views on habeus corpus.

Trump can underscore the Constitution’s importance to him

It doesn't seem too important to the Republicans in the Senate.

Trump should commit to reimposing sanctions against Iran

Can if he wants. It's not going to stop any other country from dealing with them. I'm sure there are other countries that make airliners that are happy the House isn't going to allow Boeing to sell any to Iran.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Will He Get a Thank You Note?

Jonathan Rauch appreciates what President Obama must have learned in kindergarten.

Presidents and kindergartners have in common that one of the simplest ways to evaluate them is also one of the best: Do they clean up when they’re finished?

What will Trump leave behind? Hopefully the country and planet in one piece. 

Lyndon B. Johnson (who left behind the Vietnam War), Richard Nixon (Watergate and its aftermath), Jimmy Carter (double-digit inflation), and George W. Bush (economic collapse). Nixon is judged a failure, and LBJ and Carter are seen as tragically flawed, which I believe will also be history’s judgment of Bush 43 (Iraq, albeit a strategic disaster, wasn’t a crisis when he left office). By contrast, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy (although he exited prematurely), Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton left a relatively clean desk, and they maintain strong reputations despite their shortcomings.

Does Trump appreciate how good he's got it?

Fortunately for the country, Obama has governed as a sober realist, pretty much the opposite of the way he campaigned. As Coolidge would have affirmed (perhaps using different terminology), “Don’t do stupid shit” doesn’t guarantee presidential greatness, but it’s the right place to start, and a lot harder than it looks. 

No, he's probably not getting the thank you note.

Another Warrior in a Lost Cause

These guys are starting to remind me of those Japanese soldiers from WWII that would occasionally turn up living in caves not knowing fighting had stopped. My local paper today had another LTTE calling for the continued existence of the electoral college. Sorry Martin, you're too late to be included in the letter I submitted yesterday.

Take it, Mr. Welch:

I understand where Mr. Goot and Mr. Cuomo are coming from when advocating for a one man, one vote rule in national elections.

Good so far. 

They know if it is decided to eliminate the electoral college in favor of one man, one vote, the region of our country with the most people will easily outvote the remaining region even though the latter represent the most real estate. 

Didn't take that long to go off the rails. I'm not sure what outvote means. The region with the most people would have more votes. I agree with that. I don't think I agree if he's saying real estate deserves a vote, though. 

As we have seen in the last national election, the east coast and the west coast leaned Democratic while the vast real estate of the middle leaned Republican.

Once again, with the real estate. There's nothing in the Constitution about land getting a vote. I'm not even going to look.

If we allow majority voting to happen, the largest area of the U.S. will be disadvantaged and the Democrat/Liberals larger population will be advantaged.

Yes, the tyranny of the minority. His argument seems to consist of "it's the only way Republicans can win the White House."

Have you observed all the states pushing one man one vote voted for Mrs. Clinton?

Four years of a Trump presidency could change a lot of minds. Especially when they're reminded that's how Dubya got elected, too. 

I think the Founding Fathers got it right, and the axiom of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is appropriate.

Yes, government by cliché.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Conman President

Wanted to link to this Dana Milbank column that covers many of the promises Donald Trump has made. There's also a great video clip that tells how to avoid fake news.

Paul Horner, the leading purveyor of fake news on Facebook, told The Post’s Caitlin Dewey he was stunned by Americans’ gullibility: “I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything.”

A little poetic advice for the president-elect:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

He probably would prefer "Mending Wall" though.

I'm Worth as Much as a Wyomingite

Possibly more than Dick Cheney. Thanks off the top for the post by Infidel on the National Popular Vote movement. And thanks to Shaw for the post with Taylor's fine calculations of the value of votes between states. And thanks to Charles Flinchbaugh and John Silvestri for the letters to the editor prompting me to write mine. It is a thankful time of year.

I'd like to respond to a couple of letters on the National Popular Vote movement, mootly, since it's been enacted in New York. Mr. Finchbaugh's argument against it is because we're a "republic, not a democracy." If that justifies putting the candidate into office who has fewer votes, it sounds like a banana republic. He fears the tyranny of the majority, but not that of the minority.
Just to cite a comparison between two states. New York has a population of 19,796,000 with 29 electoral votes. Wyoming has a population of 586,100 with 3 electoral votes. If you do the math on that, you'll find the vote of a Wyomingite is worth three and a half times what yours is as a New Yorker. I want my vote to count the same as any other American.
Mr. Silvestri points out that "Lincoln won the election via the Electoral College even though he had only 40 percent of the popular vote." Maybe I'm missing the point, but Lincoln's closest competitor had only 29%. The other two split the remaining 31%. So, Abe won the popular vote and the electoral. Unlike George W. Bush and Donald Trump, I might add.

He says that, without the College, regions of the country would be ignored. In the latest campaign only 12 states received any attention from candidates. The 50 largest cities only contain 15% of our citizenry. Appealing to them alone wouldn't win it. And contrary to Mr. Flinchbaugh's assertion of the NPV being limited to blue states: Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia and Missouri have passed it in their Houses; North Carolina and Oklahoma in their Senates. Maybe four years of a Trump presidency will spur more support.    

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Doesn't He Let Anything Go By?

So now Trump is in a war of words with the cast of Hamilton. And this is what the lead actor said to Pence:

"We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," said Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation's third vice president, as his fellow actors joined hands. "We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us." 

And from our 45th president and part-time critic of the performing arts:

"The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior," he tweeted.

And you, Mike Pence:

But Pence told Fox News that "Hamilton" was an "incredible production" involving a very talented cast. On whether he thought an apology was necessary, he said: "I'll leave it to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it."

He's certainly classier than his boss.

When prompted by Trump for an apology, Dixon responded on Twitter that "conversation is not harassment sir" and added that he appreciated Pence stopping to listen.

That seems like a good spot to end this. I'm half expecting Trump to go on Twitter and criticize me for this post.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Not All Christians Love Trump

Mostly the ones who have read the Bible and follow the teachings of Jesus. That's my guess.

Trump, they declare, "fueled white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals and religious intolerance at the expense of gospel values [and] democratic principles."

They charge him with mocking women and the sanctity of marriage vows, disregarding facts, worshiping "wealth and shameful materialism," and taking an already-weakened "culture of civility to nearly unprecedented" depths with his vulgarity and ugly personal attacks.

They describe Trump's campaign as the most "extreme version of a history of racialized politics" that has ever been pursued, also noting with disdain the silence of white evangelicals in the face of such behavior. Their silence throughout that history, those Christian leaders declared, "set the environment for what we see now." 

Rotten Pumpkin

Yeah, that seems appropriate post-Halloween and post-Election Day.

And if you don't like rotten pumpkin, maybe you'll like Pop Vote. Here's Poppy:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

See Something, Say Something

It could be worse. I hope it doesn't get to this point.

During the Great Terror of Stalinist Russia of 1937-38, during which upward of half a million people died, poet Anna Akhamatova remembers standing in a Leningrad prison queue with scores of others waiting for a glimpse of their husbands or sons or brothers or fathers.

She writes, "On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name. Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there), 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered, 'I can.' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face."

She's not going all Godwin or whatever the Stalin equivalent is. She's only asking for a modest awakening. As if anyone is sleeping well. 

I think we need two things to foster healing and justice.

First, we need to notice and bear witness.

A Lutheran colleague in Oklahoma, vowing to track what he hears and sees on a daily basis, posts this: "I plan to report, and be annoying, so get ready. I plan to not leave a single aggression unrecorded. So here's ... what neo-fascism looks like, y'all."

We need to do what journalists, poets, preachers and keen-eyed children do best: We need to notice. And bear witness.

Then we need not to relativize. We're going to be tempted to say, "Well, it's not that bad." Maybe it won't be that bad for those of us in positions of various forms of privilege.

Bottom line:

We need to be able to answer the question: Could one ever describe this? By saying "I can." Not only "I can," but "I will."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Little Good News for the Planet

It's hopeful that despite the best efforts of the Trump team to destroy the planet we may survive.

Even if Trump backpedals at the federal level, climate change action may already have enough momentum to continue without him. Coastal communities, irrespective of party loyalty, are already preparing for rising sea-levels. China, the only country that emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, is gearing up to lead the world in mitigation – a move that could boost the country’s global influence. Meanwhile, solar and other renewable energies are cheaper than ever. Even market forces seem to be saying that this isn’t up for debate anymore.

As it turns out, Trump’s promises of American exceptionalism and prosperity may actually necessitate climate change action.

The Chinese and Russians must be so happy with this election. 

“Proactively taking action against climate change will improve China’s international image and allow it to occupy the moral high ground,” Zou Ji, a senior Chinese climate talks negotiator, told Reuters. “China’s influence and voice are likely to increase in global climate governance, which will then spill over into other areas of global governance and increase China’s global standing, power and leadership.”

So, I'm wondering if the the Chinese can displace us as the essential country in only 4 years. What the hell, give Trump another four. Hope they have better luck electing leaders than we had. 

Other nations, many of which once opposed emissions reductions, have also fallen in line with the UN. So if the US wants to stay competitive on the world stage, Trump may need to make some concessions.

Meanwhile, the clean energy industry is growing critically. Solar prices have dropped significantly in recent years, and US tax incentives for wind and solar are set to continue through the decade. As a businessman, Trump likely understands this. He may choose to direct federal funding toward fossil fuels, but renewables aren’t going away.

Yes, but he's not a very good businessman. 

For many coastal communities, the issue isn’t quite so political. A long-term national policy for mitigation is simply “irrelevant” to them, some experts say, because they’ve already experienced prolonged drought and rising sea levels.

“Coastal communities in New England are already trying to figure out how to engage with people in their towns about addressing climate risks,” 

So that's why all those coastal states are blue ones. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Hope Bibi Netanyahu is Happy

There are many who are of the Jewish faith in this country who are not so happy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-watch group, has accused Breitbart of explicitly embracing ethno-nationalism. After Bannon's elevation was announced, the law center tweeted several controversial stories written by Breitbart under Bannon's control, including a piece published two weeks after a mass killing at a black church in Charleston, S.C., last year: “Hoist it high and proud: the confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.” 

And others:

The Anti-Defamation League voiced its strong disapproval in a statement Sunday evening, calling Bannon's appointment "a sad day." "We call on President-elect Trump to appoint and nominate Americans committed to the well-being of all our country's people," said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL's chief executive.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also denounced the appointment and criticized Breitbart for trafficking "misogynistic and racist stories targeting women, people of color and immigrants."

I saw a clip of Trump on some talking head show lamely saying that swastika drawing goons and goons of other stripes should knock it off. It was so very eloquent. I'm starting to miss GWB. Oh wait, it's in this article and it was from the 60 Minutes interview. The glory of not watching TV.

“I am very surprised to hear that. I hate to hear that, I mean, I hate to hear that,” Trump said in the interview, which was taped Friday. "I would say don't do it, that's terrible, because I'm going to bring this country together.

“I am so saddened to hear that. And I say stop it, if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it,” Trump added. 

Yeah, just stop it. 

I have to at least give Jennifer Rubin credit for having been anti-Trump. And she hasn't sold out yet. 

The way Trump won the race — with zero respect for the truth, with contempt for nonwhite voters, with assaults on our democracy — the #NeverTrump forces fear will now be the rule, not the exception, in presidential politics. That he won (it worked!) is no cause for recriminations against the #NeverTrump forces. It actually proves their point: Public figures who behave this way tear the fabric of our country and undermine democratic values. And Trump has done just that — because it was the only way he knew to get the approval of the Trumpkins. He was certain they were not above vile tactics; he was right. Congratulations, Trumpkins: You never go wrong underestimating the American people.

Just as his critics predicted, however, Trump’s vague and fantastical promises are already colliding with reality. Obamacare isn’t going to get repealed — at least not all of it, he says. Rounding up 11-12M people does not seem to be on his list of top priorities. His team is coming to the realization the Iran deal will not be ripped up on his first day in office. If Trumpkins discover Trump is just another pol who sold them a bill of goods, how will they react? We will find out in the months ahead.

We'll find out in the months ahead if she climbs aboard the Trump Express, too.

Best Use I've Heard of the Word Hallelujah Lately

Thank you Pinku Sensei. Or is that domo arigato?

For the record, David waited until he was the king before he stole Bathsheba from Uriah and arranged to have him killed in combat. We're not sure about Trump's sins.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Some Good Post-Election News

So, I haven't mentioned here in a day or two how nice it is to live in New York even though my area of the state voted pretty heavily for Trump. Obviously, I'm North of Albany.

Planned Parenthood supporters in the Capital Region responded to Tuesday's election of Donald Trump as president by extending words of comfort and offers to volunteer to the nonprofit's Albany and Schenectady affiliates.

Trump and his supporters are such fine Christians. 

Throughout his campaign, Trump vowed to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the provider of reproductive health services; to "repeal and replace" the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. through which millions of Americans buy individual health insurance; and to cut Medicaid, the government-sponsored insurance program for low-income Americans. All of those actions would affect Planned Parenthood, which provides services to many low-income women.

Who would Jesus let die at the side of the road?

On Wednesday, after Trump's win, the immediate emails, the Facebook posts, the notes and the calls were unexpected, people at both affiliates said.

"It's even more amplified because this was such a polarizing 12 to 18 months for all of us," Corbett said. "People are standing up. This motivates people, they feel very impassioned about some of the negative things that came out of the campaign."

You Want It Darker

In not wanting to think too much about Tuesday's debacle, I'll just mention the passing of two wonderful men. Leonard Cohen has passed.

A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love.

And Robert Vaughn, who was so much more than a suave secret agent. Though that was pretty cool. 

A liberal Democrat, Vaughn became passionately opposed to the Vietnam War while he was making "U.N.C.L.E." and delivered anti-war speeches at colleges and other venues around the country. He also debated the war with conservative William F. Buckley on the latter's TV talk show, "Firing Line."

Vaughn became a friend of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and campaigned for him during his 1968 run for the presidency. When Kennedy was assassinated that year, Vaughn was so upset that he moved to England for five years. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Election Letter

I gave serious thought to canceling my subscription to the PS over the Stefanik/Funiciello endorsement. I'd miss writing letters too much, though. Afraid they might not accept them from non-subscribers. Besides, they may disappoint me from time to time, but I believe in supporting a local paper.

So, this letter is in response to comments made in this article.


That was Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff’s reaction when he heard the news this morning that Donald Trump had won the presidency.

Haff went to bed at 2 a.m., still not sure whether his candidate would win.

At the beginning of the night, he was “extremely worried,” he said.

But his worry turned to joy as the night progressed. He turned on MSNBC just to watch the Democrats on the live show suffer.

He knew Trump voters were finally getting their message across when a commentator said, “We weren’t listening to rural America.”

And then, finally, one of them acknowledged that wages have not budged for the average worker in more than three decades. Possibly, a commentator suggested, people are so desperate for a change that they were willing to vote for anyone who would try something different.

“This was reality hitting them in the face!” Haff said. “We’ve had two Republican administrations. We’ve had eight years of Obama. The take-home wage of workers is actually less than it was 16 years ago.”

Slowly, it began to sink in that voters weren’t simply sending a message. Trump was winning.

“I was reveling at their depression. I started thinking, ‘Oh my God, he might actually pull it off!’” Haff said.

Yes, those comments. My letter:

Hallelujah (praise the Lord) seems like an odd exclamation to make upon the election of someone as immoral as Donald Trump. Please don't make me go through the evidence to support that assertion. Inform me that we're all sinners if you're as willing to overlook the sins of Hillary Clinton as you are those of Trump.
We read in 1 John (that's one John to Trump) 9-10: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word in not in us." I can sooner see Clinton confessing to sin than Trump.
I know good Christians, great Christians that voted for him. Presumably, at least in some cases, over abortion. Some years back, Trump said, "I'm very pro-choice, I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still-I just believe in choice." Sounds kind of like the Democratic Party's "rare, but legal" position. He also said he would not ban partial-birth abortion. Maybe his position is firm now. Want to hear what he said about gun control?
I hope to get the chance to revel in Dana Haff's depression over the course of the next four years.

Oh, the Devil can quote scripture for his own purposes.

What I said:

I linked to this yesterday and don't see it. Maybe it was my bad. In any case, I'll try again because I like Kate McKinnon's use of Hallelujah much better than Mr. Haff's. Rest in peace, Hillary and Leonard Cohen.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Quote From Josh Marshall

There is a lot of fear. I know. I feel it. At such a moment I come back to a thought I've told family members at times of stress or grief. Optimism isn't principally an analysis of present reality. It's an ethic. It is not based on denial or rosy thinking. It is a moral posture toward the world we find ourselves in. If everything seems great, there's no need for optimism. The river of good news just carries you along.

Can't do any better than that today. I'm a bit catatonic today.

St. Pete went through much worse than what we're all going through now. It was cathartic for me. Hope it is for you as well.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The New New Ten Commandments

According to Casey Seiler. Wonderful piece of writing in the Times Union, my new newspaper.

1. Thou shalt not select thy candidates from the ranks of thy reality television stars. Beware the man or woman who has suckled at the breast of Nielsen ratings, for to them sense and logic shall matter less than the false god whose names are legion but who is known in the fleshpots as Attention, be it of the holy or the wicked stripe. Watch their movements for imminent TV deals.

2. Thou shalt not covet a private server for public emails. Henceforth let it be known that the business of the people shall be conveyed on the People's Server exclusively, and the dealing of the private household shall find its hearth upon the Household Server, and let them forevermore be not entwined.

3. Defend thine email systems like the fortress on the borderland. Be like the falcon on watch for enemies who would like a thief in the night spirit away thine online communications, for they are unholy and base and in some cases used to work for the KGB.

4. When thy candidates shall come together on stage to debate the people's business, thou shalt not include time for "open exchange." This will devolve into squabbling and plagues of Twitter hot takes that are abominable to the eyes of Heaven.

5. Thou shalt not make apologies for the man who brags of grabbing women by a certain part of their anatomy, thus profaning this land. On second thought, let's expand that to someone who brags about grabbing any part of a women's anatomy, period. When the people of the Lord wandered in the desert, that was the sort of thing that got you horsewhipped — we are just saying.

7. We really want to stress the no-reality-stars thing.

I was going to just go with the first five and make you go to the link for the other five. But, it's really important "to stress the no-reality-stars thing."

And then, there's innocence lost

The single most frightening, anti-democratic phrase of modern presidential history came in Trump’s convention speech: “I alone can fix it.” A Trump victory would be a mandate for an authoritarian politics. Trump’s ambitions would be bounded by strong legislative and legal institutions and by his own risible ignorance of real leadership. But a Trump administration would be a concession to the idea that America needs a little more China, a little more Russia, a little more “so let it be written, so let it be done,” in its executive branch.

I never imagined that Republican leaders — many of whom I know and have respected — would fall in line with such dangerous delusions, on the theory that anything is better than Hillary Clinton. Most options are better than Clinton. But not all. And not this. The GOP has largely accommodated itself to a candidate with no respect for, or knowledge of, the constitutional order. Every constitutional conservative should be revolted. Those who are complicit have adopted a particularly dangerous form of power-loving hypocrisy.

Poor Michael Gerson. Never in his wildest dreams did he think the Republican Party could nominate a monster. Yet, there it is. Trumpenstein.

Free Tacos and an Excited Joe Biden

Happy Election Day Eve

Really. It's almost over. Except for 4 years or more of meaningless investigations by Congress.

Non Sequitur

Just dropped into Stossel's betting odds. Wow! As I'm looking now, and I'm sure it will change, HRC is at 82% and Trump at 18%. Shes' up 4 in the last day and he's down 3.1. Me likey. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wayne Judge Never Disappoints

The best anti-Trump, anti-Trump enabler letter ever.

The issue is not whether a voter wants “change.” The choice for every American this year is between a candidate who is qualified to be the president and the three competing candidates all of whom are woefully unqualified.

This question has been asked: “Who do you know who has denigrated immigrants, the handicapped, Muslims and Mexicans; trashed all our recent trade agreements; mounted a fraudulent campaign claiming our president was not born in this country; insulted the whole presidential selection process by running for the highest office without doing a shred of homework; boasted of grabbing women by their genitals; disparaged our NATO allies; praised the dictatorial president of Russia and encouraged him to hack Democratic Party emails; vowed to prosecute his campaign rival if he got elected; threatened to curb the freedom of the press; suggested that gun rights advocates might take the law into their own hands if Hillary Clinton won; insulted the parents of a slain Iraq war hero; been accused by 11 women of sexual assault or other unwelcome physical advances; sought to undermine America’s electoral system by claiming, without a shred of evidence, that it is so “rigged” he can’t promise to concede if he loses; and been cited for lying about more things more times in more ways on more days than any presidential aspirant in history?” This question leaves out his proposal to make torture an acceptable tactic, thereby sanctioning the practice for use on our own American troops!

Any elected official who simply states that they will vote for this person for president because he is a Republican does not deserve the vote of anyone who cares about this country. They are declaring, as our political leaders, that they will vote for his brand of “change.”

Also, a sentence that might qualify for the Guinness book for length and number of semi-colons.
Give a mutt a home

The Post Star Disappoints

Really, really disappoints.

It's disturbing to me that my daily newspaper takes the opinions of 5 people on its editorial board and comes to the conclusion that Elise Stefanik is the best candidate to represent me in Congress. The opinion of the Adk Daily Enterprise, Lake George Mirror and Albany Times Union was that Mike Derrick was best suited for the job. The latter two publications saw no reason to even mention Matt Funiciello. 

That's the truly disturbing part. I suppose you can make some kind of case to endorse our current congresswoman. But, no one on your board even registered for Derrick and 40% chose Funiciello. MF has put forth his opinion that there is no evidence that an airplane hit the Pentagon. He has put forth the opinion that the Washington County Board of Elections doesn't take the same care with the voter registrations of minor parties as they do Dems and Reps. He has said that "we need guns to defend ourselves against tyranny and if you don't understand that, you're not paying attention." 

Maybe your editorial board likes conspiracy theories, gun extremism and condescension more than I do. Apparently. And for good measure he feels the residents of the Adks have no need for cell service or broadband. I grew up there. 

I could no sooner vote for him than I could vote for Donald Trump. Two out of 5 on the board? Really?

They are very close to losing my business. I like the idea of a local newspaper and would hate to see it fold. That's why I support it. This makes it very hard to continue to do so. If Derrick wins on Tuesday maybe I'll be overjoyed enough to overlook this. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Another Stolen Cartoon

I feel like a Bundy squatter.

Cartoon by Jeffrey Boyer - 1103 Boyertoon
Sad commentary on the US judicial system.

Eugene Robinson Talking Us Down From the Ledge

In four days it'll be over and it'll be OK. Yes, I'm trying to convince myself.

In the swing states that will decide the election, Trump has never shown signs in the polls of coming close to the kind of clean sweep he would need to win an electoral majority. Clinton could lose both Ohio and Florida — which have gone back and forth — and still win comfortably. Moreover, she has put traditionally Republican states such as Arizona, North Carolina and perhaps even Georgia into play.

I feel better now.

Christians Against Trump

Of course, they're Northeast liberal Christians.

Speaking strictly for myself, now, reading alt-right bloggers such as Mike Cernovich of or listening to Sean Hannity or running into young men in sports bars warning the Illumenati is running the government or receiving letters from apparently well-meaning hand-wringers who think Hillary needs "chastising" by Mr. Trump and I need a primer on basic Christianity have worn me down. For thoughtful, progressive Christians — and indeed, for many, many thoughtful, conservative Christians — much of the flag-wrapped-cross jingoism of this election cycle is not merely distasteful. It is also, essentially, apostasy.


Religious scholar Peter W. Marty, writing in the Christian Century, notes the repeated theme of the religious right to "return" to America's greatness, to make American great "again."
Marty questions what era these moralistic nostalgia-seekers have in mind.

"Was it America's legacy of enslaving African peoples, only to lynch numbers of them later? Was it the 18th century and its primitive medicine, or the 19th century and its marginal sanitation? Perhaps [their] cherished past exists somewhere in the past 100 years, when women still lacked the right to vote, laborers had frighteningly few rights, the need of the disabled went largely ignored, Agent Orange wreaked havoc and the water boarding of terror suspects became acceptable to some top brass."

But he concludes robustly: "Nostalgia that ignores blemishes of the past makes for shabby history."

Happy Endorsement News

Mike Derrick got the endorsement of the Albany Times Union, one of my regular reads.

We had hoped Rep. Elise Stefanik would be one of those moderate, independent voices her party needs. It's how she portrays herself. Yet her voting record reveals otherwise, with votes to dismantle Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, and oppose sensible Obama administration actions on air pollution and immigration. 

As an added bonus, they give no mention to Matt Funiciello. If the Post Star who endorsed MF two years ago, endorses Elise Stefanik, I may have a new morning paper.

Taking a cue from them, I'll not mention the loony fellow in my labeling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wonderful Pro-ACA LTTE Today

Thank you, Abigail

Obamacare isn't perfect. Mike Derrick wants to fix it. Elise Stefanik wants to kill it and leave people like me disabled and a burden on their families and taxpayers.

For all of us, vote for Mike Derrick for Congress on Nov. 8!

Amen to that!