Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mitch McConnell STILL Deserves The Deepest Pit in Hell

If you survived the Mueller hearings, you hopefully noticed Robert Mueller was trying desperately to tell Congress several important things, one of which was JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST THE RUSSIANS HACKED OUR ELECTIONS AND WILL DO IT IN 2020 unless Congress passes stronger laws protecting our rights to vote.

If you consider it good news, the Democratic-led House has already passed two bills that ought to fix a lot of our security problems surrounding our electoral system, and strengthening the laws blocking foreign involvement.

Sorry to report, however, that Senate Majority Bastard Mitch McConnell is still a partisan sonofabitch willing to destroy the nation. Using his control of the other branch of Congress, the Senate isn't even taking one quick peek at the House bills, with McConnell accusing the Democrats - like he accused Obama back in 2016 when the first warnings were issued about Russian interference - of being the partisans trying to hijack the elections. Per Nancy LeTourneau at the Washington Monthly:

...Just as we’ve seen with Trump, he is sending a message to Vladimir Putin that he welcomes another attack. But it’s not just Putin. The invitation also goes out to other foreign adversaries, like China, Iran, and North Korea. You have to wonder why McConnell would be so confident that—to the extent that any of those countries interfered in the 2020 election—it would be to benefit Republicans. And if the only way for the GOP to survive politically is to invite foreign interference in our elections, the party of Lincoln has been completely corrupted.

McConnell won't lift a finger because he knows the Republicans cannot win in a fair fight, not in the Presidential election and maybe even in the Senate campaigns (all the Democrats have to do is keep their seats and flip three battleground states to claim control in that branch). McConnell wants the interference from Russia and other nations because it will help justify the GOP Narrative of Voter Fraud to ensure the can suppress results in the Red states they control.

There's a reason why #MoscowMitch is trending on Twitter.

There's a reason why Mitch McConnell deserves the deepest pit of Hell when he passes on.

Robbie Payton Is a Spambot And Deserves Exile To The Nearest Black Hole

Robbie Payton keeps trying to spam my blog articles. does not provide a clear/clean way to have these bots hunted down like the ducks they are.

Do not click any links on its comments. Do not answer or reply (its comments never relate to the topic at hand anyway). I shall purge it in due time.

Damn these things though.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mueller Testimony Before Congress: The Circus Cover Up

So... I got a little distracted from reading the Mueller Report like I promised. Work's been crazy, real-life distractions aplenty. I got as far as the first full page of redactions and refused to find out how many times the phrase "trump conspired with Russians to hack the elections" fit inside the void.

As a result, I'm not fully briefing myself on the report's contents as of today, when Mueller is expected to testify before Congress about his findings.

I don't have high hopes today will end well (by that I mean "trump getting charged on his counts of Obstruction and getting campaign aid from a foreign power").

A lot of what happens today depends on what Mueller actually says. Despite AG Barr's assertions that he can control what Mueller can answer, the former special prosecutor can say whatever he feels is not covered by the "matters of ongoing harm" regarding active investigations.

The most likely things Mueller will cover are the most obvious ones: That Russia actively attempted - and in some cases succeeded - to interfere with our country's 2016 election cycle. I fully expect Mueller will spend much of his presentation making the case for Congress to pass stricter laws against foreign meddling and to make more concerted efforts to protect our voting methods.

Whether or not trump committed crimes like Obstruction, Mueller still hasn't come out and simply said so: He keeps saying "Well Congress needs to act on that" and leaves it up in the air. I wonder how many Democratic congresscritters are going to try to get him on record saying "Yes, trump committed Obstruction (more than once), and yes this requires Congress to at least begin impeachment proceedings right now."

That's when the circus part of the testimony will kick in, because the Republican congresscritters will do everything in their power to block those questions and answers with every sleazy distraction in the book.

It's already a given - considering how they acted to Michael Cohen's post-guilty-plea testimony - that the likes of Jim Jordan and other Republicans will debunk Mueller based not on the evidence but on Fox Not-News talking points. The expectations are high that they'll try to accuse Hillary of being more involved with Russian tricks, or throw out conspiracy stories about "Deep State" sabotage on trump's campaign. There will be - guaranteed - a major attack on two of Mueller's investigators who were caught Tweeting against trump, as though that compromised the entire Mueller investigation (hint: those two didn't).

The Republican offensive against Mueller will be offensive, no doubt. Mueller's integrity will be mocked and slimed. They'll try to pressure the special prosecutor into unleashing a rageful retort, something they hope will cause a gaffe and discredit the whole investigation.

The best hope I have in that situation is that Mueller remains calm and focused - as a Marine, he's likely to do so - and stays on message. I also hope that during their attempts to discredit Mueller, the damned Republicans indict themselves. If any of the congresscritters makes an open case to have the Mueller Report unredacted, that would be nice (and also a hilarious self-own).

I just won't be watching today.

I'm still busy at work.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Brexit News: We're Likely Waking Up to Boris "Badenov" Johnson as Prime Minister Tomorrow

So let's just set the stage for how most of the world is going to react to that.

Okay, seriously. How bad is this going to get?

Think "donald trump" but with fewer golf courses to his name.

Okay, that's a little too unserious. Here's serious. From Sam Knight at the New Yorker:

This is the Johnsonian way. The lies, the performative phrases, the layers of persona—they accrete, one on top of another, flecked here and there with Latin, until everyone has forgotten what the big deal was. In Brussels, Johnson confined himself to dodgy journalism. When he returned to London, he brought the same approach to jobs, extramarital affairs, and political stances. In 1999, Johnson became the editor of The Spectator, a witty, right-wing magazine that is traditionally close to the Conservative Party. The magazine was owned by the news magnate Conrad Black, who would call Johnson and ask him how it was going. Johnson would say that he was trying to turn the magazine into a cookie. “ ‘An opening of solid meal followed suddenly and dramatically by a chocolate taste explosion,’ ” Black recounted to Gimson. “It’s all rubbish, but it’s imaginative.”
In 2001, at the age of thirty-six, Johnson was elected a Member of Parliament for Henley, a safe Conservative seat in Oxfordshire. When he came under pressure to resign from The Spectator, because of the conflict of interest, he demurred, and coined what has become his best-known political aphorism: “I want to have my cake and eat it.” Johnson hates choosing between things, even right and wrong. In 2003, Lynn Barber, of the Observer, asked Johnson what principles he would be prepared to resign over. “I’m a bit of an optimist so it doesn’t tend to occur to me to resign,” he replied. “I tend to think of a way of Sellotaping everything together and quietly finding a way through, if I can...”

Already you can see the trumpian sins of self-indulgence and arrogance. And there's a reason why Knight titled his article "The Empty Promise":

On the morning of June 24, 2016, after the result had become clear, Cameron resigned. Johnson and Gove, the two most high-profile Conservative Brexiteers, appeared at a news conference, looking terrified. Johnson was expected to be installed in Downing Street within weeks. But, not for the first time, when he was confronted with something that he desperately wanted, Johnson lost focus. The day after the most momentous event in British politics for several decades, Johnson went to the countryside to play cricket with the ninth Earl of Spencer. The next day, he hosted a barbecue.
Johnson and Gove paired up to form what was known, very briefly, as the “Dream Team,” to lead a new, pro-Brexit government. The pact lasted six days. The afternoon before Johnson was due to launch his campaign to become Prime Minister, he still hadn’t written a speech. Boles, the M.P. who had advised Johnson when he became mayor in 2008, remembers finding him surrounded by a few lines jotted on scraps of paper. “Johnson was proud of his writing skills, his way with words,” Shipman writes. “And in his hour of maximum exposure they appeared to be failing him.” Johnson told Boles, “I’ve got nothing.” Gove ran to become Prime Minister himself. Johnson withdrew from the contest before it began.
The implosion of the Dream Team opened the way for Theresa May to become Prime Minister. To Johnson’s great surprise—and to everybody else’s—May chose him as her Foreign Secretary. (“What next, Dracula as health minister?” a spokesman for Germany’s Social Democratic Party asked.) At the age of fifty-two, Johnson was appointed to one of Britain’s great offices of state. Given the chance to frame a credible narrative for leaving the E.U., and to influence and improve Britain’s relationships with its neighbors in Europe and around the world, Johnson did none of those things. It is true that he was impeded by May’s close control of Brexit from Downing Street. It is also true that Johnson’s sole contribution to the conversation about the difficult trade-offs involved in Britain’s most important political challenge since the Second World War has been a reheating of his two-decade-old adage: “My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.”

Johnson talks a game but rarely plays it well. At yet even with all these obvious flaws, his Conservative Tory party is going to vote him in to the Prime Minister's office to replace the resigning May (whose constant failures with Brexit hastened her career's end).

In terms of leadership he'll likely rely on two things: clownish buffonery and having someone else clean up his mess. As trump has proven, that makes for poor governance.

And he's going to create a mess because Boris has made it clear his disdain for the EU - he was one of Leave campaign's biggest liars - will lead him on a singular path towards a No-Deal Brexit: the one deal most likely to cause economic chaos with the UK's own financial system and also likely to cause in no particular order 1) Scotland's independence from the UK, 2) Northern Ireland's willingness to merge with Ireland just for the sake of border sanity, 3) Queen Elizabeth II punching Boris in the face for fucking up her Commonwealth.

Boris will also (might also, there is an alternative choice for the Tories to pick but Boris has been the intraparty favorite throughout the process) inherit a situation where not everyone among the Conservative ranks will accept him. There are enough ministers who don't want a No-Deal result and are willing to put their careers on the line to stop that (via Rowena Mason at the Guardian):

...But several Conservative MPs said they would regard Johnson’s first speech to the nation and cabinet appointments as a test of whether he was capable of reaching out across parliament to find a majority for a plan to leave the EU that can find approval from Eurosceptics and more moderate Brexit supporters.
If he does not, then organisation will start again in earnest to prevent him pursuing a no-deal Brexit, with some senior Tories already sending out feelers about the possibility of a “national unity” government with opposition MPs...
...One former minister said a “sizable chunk” of the 42 Tories who voted against a no-deal Brexit last week were prepared to put their own careers on the line to stop Johnson pursuing that path – either through a legislative block on leaving the EU without a deal or a confidence vote if that proves impossible...
...While Tory moderates are biding their time, Eurosceptics are also circling Johnson to ensure he keeps to his promise of taking the UK out of the EU by 31 October and ditching May’s Brexit deal. One senior Eurosceptic on Johnson’s campaign team said they were perfectly prepared to “take him out ourselves” if he failed on his promise to deliver a clear-cut Brexit by that date...

There are two opposing forces right now in British politics: Those who want to back away from a hard Brexit (if not canceling it outright) and those (the Tory hardliners and Farage Racists Nationalists) who want nothing less than a complete break from the EU. There's not enough seats to retain a Tory majority either way... which is why a number of observers are marking Boris' tenure in days instead of years.

Right now, the game plan seems to be:
Step One: Boris enters 10 Downing Street and immediately sets the place on fire.
Step Two: Boris goes to Brussels with the strong belief he can get a solid Brexit deal from the EU that Theresa May never could... all because he's convinced *he's* better at dealing than she was, and that his No-Deal stance gives him a stronger negotiating position.
Step Three: Boris gets laughed at in Brussels and ships back home in tears.
Step Four: Boris goes back to Parliament to report he's following through on a No-Deal stance, at which point enough moderate Tories quit the party for the Liberal Dems to force a collapse of the government.
Step Five: Boris either suspends Parliament (!) or is forced to call for a General Election before the October 31 deadline, facing the likely possibility of a narrow Labour plurality win.
Step Six: Brits march on London and force Queen Elizabeth II to nominate Larry the Downing Street Mouser as the new Prime Minister. I am not joking.
Step Seven: Billionaires who relocated to Amsterdam get to make PROFITS because there's always money to be made in crisis situations. I am not joking.

There's a lot of fantasy in those steps: mostly surrounding the Hard Brexiters thinking they can resolve a crisis that May spent five ten fifty times trying. There's nothing the UK has as leverage to force the EU to deal: There's nothing the UK can force on Europe if they make the decision to cut the cord outright.

The Brexiter's belief in using a trade system in GATT - with an Article XXIV provision - to override the damage of a No-Deal collapse is proving to be a bad idea if not an outright lie (if not to the public then certainly to themselves).

Johnson seems to think he's got an exit strategy for Brexit in the form of a big trade deal with the United States. He forgets a few things, not the least of which is how his plan may violate existing trade laws that will be untouched in a No-Deal Brexit. He's also forgetting any deal with trump would have to pass both houses of Congress, and the Democratic-led House is not going to sign off on some half-baked scheme (especially where trump is involved). Worse, Boris is forgetting trump is a terrible deal-maker: trump ALWAYS wants to win the deal and may well break the arrangement if he thinks he loses anything in it.

There isn't a lot of room to maneuver for Boris, there aren't a lot of sane options to begin with, and we're looking at the likelihood of a shattered and broken United Kingdom on Halloween night.

Trick or Treat, Brits.

To the Anonymous Spammers Filling My Comments... AGAIN

I've been getting hit the last three weeks by these comments for outdated posts (especially one from 2016 that I guess is the top Google Search result for a certain Comic Con).

All of the comments follow three patterns.

1) Happily saying "gee I found your fun article" without actually spelling out that article's specific arguments/content.

2) Loving the layout/design of my blog, even though it's a cheap Blogger template using cheaper graphics and borrowed clip art.

3) Offering to provide an important link to another website that likely is a virus-laden sales page for terrible marketing plans.

This is why I have filters up. Even more than trying to block Anonymous commentators who show up to insult me or others (I get one of those for every hundred I get of the spambots).

I'm not trying to block people from making comments, I would like to hear more from some of you. I'm just trying to keep my pages clean and reduce bad traffic.

I just want honest commentary with at least SOME semblance of an online ID to back up your talk.

At least this current wave of spam isn't all Chinese glyphs I can never read like what I get at my librarianship/writers' blog.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Predicting Character: The Force of Harris

The thing about Kamala Harris to take serious is her hardened sense of justice.

You saw that on full display in the first major debate among the 2020 Democratic candidates, where given the chance she eviscerated Joe Biden for his record as a U.S. Senator in the 1980s and 1990s opposing busing to desegregate schools. Pointing to her own childhood - how's that for anecdote - Harris argued how busing gave her chances at an integrated school to become the lawyer and political figure she is today. To her, it was a matter of social justice (integration) and legal justice (fairness).

That exchanged busted Biden, and boosted Harris to the top tier where Biden, Sanders and Warren were already tapped. She's arguably the candidate most opposed to Joe (while the narrative pits Sanders and Warren as rivals for the more Progressive primary voters).

So now that Harris is running with the big dogs now, what should we expect from her as candidate for President?

Harris' biography starts from her birth in Oakland to immigrants, a father from Jamaica and a mother from India. Both parents were scholars and social activists, which likely influenced Harris' growing up. While raised Baptist, her mom also had the family attend the local Hindu temple to keep in touch with her Indian roots. From there, Harris dual-majored in Economics and Political Science at Howard University, then returned to the Bay area to get her Juris Doctorate with UC Hastings College of Law (if she wins the Presidency, she'll be the most recent President who didn't get any degree from Harvard or Yale or Ivy League. And no, trump does not count: I doubt trump earned a college degree at all...)

Harris first came to national attention as the District Attorney in San Francisco back in 2005, when the likes of Newsweek magazine ran articles on her work. From the October 24 2005 issue (article by Karen Breslau):

...Harris... the hard-driving daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, both academics and civil-rights activists, grew up in Berkeley. But anyone who mistakes her for a softhearted liberal should think again. As a prosecutor in Oakland, Harris never lost a felony case sent to the jury. In San Francisco's most crime-ridden neighborhoods, Harris has become a hero --to mothers of murder victims, with whom she meets regularly to review the prosecutions of their children's accused killers. During her first year in office, Harris has boosted the conviction rate for felonies from 62 percent to 79 percent.
At the same time, she has also embraced innovative prevention strategies. For youthful offenders leaving prison, Harris is creating a re-entry program to provide schooling and job training. She helped raise money to build a safe house for teen prostitutes. "We have to dispense with old conversation about being 'soft' on crime or being 'hard' on crime," says Harris. "We have to talk about being smart on crime."
Harris's efforts to improve relations with the police department got off to a rough start when an undercover police officer was shot and killed shortly after she took office in 2004. Harris, a Democrat opposed to the death penalty, announced that she would instead seek life in prison for the accused killer. The decision enraged police. Despite those tensions, Harris and Fong continued to meet regularly, in part to signal to their departments that the work of law enforcement had to go on. Newsom gives the two women credit for continuing to communicate, unlike their male predecessors, who went for years without speaking to each other...
Despite the controversy, Harris seemed at least respected by local law enforcement, because her political career didn't take the hits an angry police union would dole out to anyone who crosses them.

From there, Harris moved up to California's Attorney General's office, where she made an immediate impact fighting over the post-Recession fallout (via Newsweek again in February 20 2012, byline Katrina Heron):

After multiple trips to Washington for heated closed-door sessions, Harris walked away last September from a deal highly coveted by President Obama and shepherded by a score of federal agencies, a proposed settlement between the 50 states' attorneys general and the five biggest banks involved in the home-mortgage crisis. "I have concluded that this is not the deal California homeowners have been waiting for," Harris wrote to the settlement's committee chairs, just nine months into her job, noting that more than half a million more homes in her state had fallen into the foreclosure process since discussions had begun in late 2010.
Harris's abrupt departure helped derail that agreement, and response to her move was swift. Some critics, including members of the financial community, spoke of a newcomer making an irresponsible gamble to enhance her own political stature. Those who approved saw a savvy bluff-caller doing her job for a state that leads the nation in homeowner woes, with 2.2 million borrowers currently underwater on their mortgages and seven of the 10 cities in America hardest hit by foreclosure. Still others believed Harris would never agree to a deal.
That last theory, at least, was put to rest on Thursday with the announcement that 49 states, including California, have agreed to a three-year, $26 billion settlement with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial. A formidable negotiator, Harris had pushed up her state's take from somewhere between $2 billion and $4 billion to $12 billion, with an estimated $6 billion more in value to owners coming from banks acknowledging the diminished value of homes. She also extracted special concessions on how the relief will be guaranteed and distributed. Along with other, equally intransigent AGs, Harris also prevailed against the banks' bid for across-the-board immunity, preserving for states the right to pursue their own investigations into how loans were made to borrowers and how they were then packaged and resold in financial markets.
Still, some critics branded the deal a sell-out (after all, bank shares rose), pointing out that it offers scant relief for those who have already lost their homes to foreclosure. Harris herself--for whom the settlement is arguably a huge political coup and a boost for any future gubernatorial run--did not crow. "We brought an $18 billion life preserver to homeowners who need relief right now," she told Newsweek in an interview after the deal was announced. "It's a good thing, but we have a lot more work to do. By no means are we done."
Harris... has never shied from a central role in the long-running negotiations. Sitting in her office under a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr., she was roused easily from professional calm to righteous fervor, revealing shades of the career prosecutor who first made her name battling the grittiest of crimes, including child sexual abuse. Her customary uniform of dark pantsuit, high heels, and pearls suggests a rather glamorous CEO, but the bursts of intensity are that of a courtroom dynamo, by turns compelling outrage and inviting empathy, disarmingly folksy and clearly comfortable under pressure.
That combination of charm and combativeness has marked her as a comer in Democratic circles, and she's adept in a wide range of social climes. In conversation, she brings up visits with elderly African-American women who became targets for fraudulent mortgage activity--"they are my grandmothers!"--and fondly remembers the black congregants at churches in Los Angeles who supported her campaign for attorney general. At the same time, the liberal white establishment of San Francisco has been her fundraising bedrock, and one of her best friends is the socialite Vanessa Getty, wife of a Getty Oil heir.
As a young assistant district attorney in the 1990s, Harris developed an expertise in domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and sex slavery cases. As district attorney in San Francisco starting in 2003, she reframed the legal lexicon around sex crimes, replacing the pejorative "teenage prostitute" with "exploited youth," and pushed for an amended state law that would ensure stricter penalties for johns. Common to these cases was "the pathology of the predator, the bottom-feeder," Harris said, adding that "be they a runaway teenager or a homeowner, an insidious part of the equation is the predator." While opponents labeled her as soft on crime, her record proved otherwise. Another focus of hers was on reducing recidivism.
Perhaps most noticeable is Harris's penchant for moral argument, which she traces to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a breast-cancer researcher of some renown who died in 2009. The India-born Gopalan came to the U.S. as a 20-year-old aspiring scientist and went on to several distinguished professorships. She and her husband, Donald Harris, a Jamaican-American academic, had two daughters; after their divorce Gopalan parented Kamala and her younger sister, Maya (now a vice president at the Ford Foundation), alone. "She was 5-foot-1 and you would think she was 6-foot-2," Harris said. "She told us, 'Whatever you choose to do, do it. Fight systems in a way that causes them to be more fair, and don't be overwhelmed by what has always been. You can see the potential and make it happen.'"

During Harris' campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2016, the Economist magazine in October 29 2016 had this to say:

More than a decade later, Ms Harris still puts her faith in data, as she cites crises that Republicans and Democrats alike know need to be addressed, in fields as diverse as criminal justice, immigration, the costs of higher education or the drugs epidemic that is as cruel a scourge in conservative rural states as it is in inner cities. Over a stop for iced coffees on the campaign trail, she says transparency is the key to building trust among people, and then between communities and government. To that end in 2015 her department began releasing torrents of statistics about arrests and deaths in custody across California. Nor is keeping the trust of the police forgotten: Ms Harris's department publicizes data on law-enforcement officers killed or assaulted on duty...
Washington skeptics may dismiss Ms Harris as a typical Californian progressive. It is true that her campaign ads boast of suing big banks for fraud. She also has a distinctly paternalist streak. Greeting an eight year old in his classroom, the attorney-general solemnly coaches him: "We shake hands and look each other in the eyes." Asked by a little girl about favorite foods, Ms Harris replies: "I like French fries, but I love spinach."
But Ms Harris is a prosecutor to her core, who approaches voters as she would 12 jurors of different backgrounds: "You have to point to the facts." Contemplating a country where millions feel displaced by change, she yearns to see another approach to politics tried: "to give people an image of what the future looks like, and to paint that image in a way that they can see themselves in it." Fierce, charming and eloquent, Ms Harris may be a big part of the Democratic Party's future too...
So with that as her biography for review, how do I view her as the candidate?

Kamala Harris - Senator, California
Positives: Driven, has a strong background as a legal prosecutor that makes her a tough debate opponent. Has enough campaign experience and enough career experience in law and administration to make her an effective President. Unwilling to back down from a fight. Behaves as though public office is a public trust. Is running on popular topics such as paying teachers better. Is genuinely charismatic and can work a crowd. If elected, would be the first Democrat from West of the Mississippi River since Johnson to win, and would confirm the importance of the most-populated state in the US. The Democratic candidate most likely to throat-punch trump first chance she gets.

Negatives: Does not have many legislative successes to claim (albeit working in a GOP-controlled Senate puts a clamp on that). Her track record as a prosecutor - even with the reforms she's championed - may hurt her among Progressives railing against police brutality. Does not guarantee flipping any key battleground states (California is so solidly Blue it may not elect another Republican to major office for the next 20 years). It's not her fault, but Harris is already the target of Birtherism conspiracy talk since her parents are both first-generation immigrants and the haters are arguing she's not a natural-born citizen (OAKLAND COUNTS, you goddamned racists). She's also a woman, and reviewing how badly the mainstream media tore into Hillary on gender issues alone suggests 2020 won't be any easier for women candidates. So we gotta go through ALL THAT crap again...

Chances: Rising. From the first debate where she pummeled front-runner Biden with his questionable stance on busing/school desegregation, Harris has more than doubled her polling numbers and is strongly in the top-tier. Continued strong performances on-stage - and any positive role she can play in Congress over the next year - could make her the winner in a tightly crowded top-tier that might send the results to a contested convention in 2020.

Character Chart: Straight out of the gate, we should agree that Harris follows the Active model of accepting the powers (and responsibilities of using power) that political office holds. It's more a question if she falls under Positive (using the office to enact major reforms, engaging crises with an open mind and eager for the challenge) or Negative (using the office to attain self-defining goals, reacting to crises unwillingly with narrow and unchanging beliefs) ways of wielding political power. Given what I've read and her career, I have to lean towards viewing her as an Active-Negative character (with caveats).

She displays an Uncompromising world-view, founded on what is clearly a firm belief in justice - her entire legal career is this - combined with the calls for social justice she inherited from her family. The Ambition common with A-Ns is tempered by the Active-Positive traits of thinking more in the "We Can" than "I Must" mindset, but her track record shows habits of unbending will. In most respects, she leans more towards Carter's character traits (maybe also Grover Cleveland) than other known Democratic A-Ns like LBJ. Unlike Hillary, whose A-N worldview made her unlikable, Harris has shown better skill at outreach and teamwork. She also hasn't displayed - yet - any of the troubling self-destructive signs that A-Ns have dealing with setbacks. Of the four major candidates for 2020, Harris is the toughest one to sort, but that Uncompromising descriptor best fits her than any other known trait. She's right on the fence with A-Ps though, much like Bill Clinton was bordering Active-Positive with Passive-Positive.

This doesn't make her a bad choice as President, though. We've had Active-Negatives as President who did not self-destruct in the ways Nixon or LBJ did. Under the right circumstances, an A-N figure in the White House would be able - willing in some cases - to clean out the corruption that most A-Ns see in politics. Unlike the type of Active-Negative trump is - one who accepts political corruption as a given and thus wallows in it for self-gain (the worst of Jackson, Johnson and Nixon) - Harris would be one who would genuinely opposes such corruption and fight against it (Cleveland again is the best role model here). This is where A-Ns have an advantage over Active-Positives who get too caught up in game-playing and Big Picture reforms that ignore the base problems that won't go away.

I've argued earlier that of the Democratic candidates, Harris is my top choice. I'm normally wary of A-Ns, but I do recognize that there are times - and this is one of those times - an Active-Negative geared towards reformative action is what's needed to fix a broken nation. The good news IMHO is that Harris shows signs of being personally incorruptable thus avoiding the kind of self-destructive scandals that plague lesser Active-Negatives.

Next up on Predicting Character: The one candidate I almost tagged as Passive-Positive... so now I get another chance to do it again.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Anniversary: Fifty Years Ago, We Achieved Humanity's Greatest Scientific Moment.

What it might have been like in July of 1969, watching as three men reached a faraway moon, and two of them landed there to prove humanity had the knowledge and the means to reach beyond our earthly shores.

From the Apollo 11 In Realtime website this morning

The surface of the earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean
Recently we've waded a little way out
And the water seems inviting... - Carl Sagan

UPDATE: CBS News is running a livestream. I'm posting this 20 minutes before the landing itself.

UPDATE: "Tranquility Base here. The Eagle Has Landed."

I think I've asked Mom and Dad once what it was like for them watching this all happen in real time - my twin and I weren't born until 10 months later - but I can't recall now what they said. I think they were traveling in Europe at the time (Dad was doing a Mediterranean cruise as a Navy pilot then). Update again: Mom messaged back that she was staying with her parents in Birmingham at the time studying for her Masters, my older brother was two-ish so he probably was too young to notice, but she and my grandparents watched it all from the telly. She didn't join up with Dad in the Mediterranean until August.

Just to mention: The library where I work is doing a space-themed Summer Reading program, and part of it has been the dedication to the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. One thing I helped work on is a Lego display of the Lunar Lander:

"That's One Small Step for a Lego... One... Giant Leap for Legokind!"

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Drowning in the Racist Flood of trumpism

Last night a powerful thunderstorm rolled past and knocked out my cable/Internet service, so I was pretty much cut off from the rest of the world.

This morning, I wake up and the cable and Internet are back up and so I turn on my computer and get on the news to see what I missed (via Tom McCarthy at The Guardian).

Goaded on by the president, a crowd at a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night chanted “send her back! send her back!” in reference to Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman who arrived almost 30 years ago as a child refugee in the United States.
Trump used the 2020 campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, to attack Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – calling them “hate-filled extremists”. The group, which calls itself “the Squad”, has been the focus of racist attacks by the president this week, kickstarted by tweets posted Sunday in which he said the lawmakers, all women of color, should “go back” to other countries.


Dear America:

I am a White Guy. Even to me, this is straight-up fucked-up racism going on.

trump is a goddamned racist.

Every trump voter cheering him at that rally were goddamned racists.

Every media pundit on television and radio and print and Internet defending this crap are goddamned racists.

Every Republican elected official excusing this crap are goddamned racists.

There is no more hiding from this fact that ever since the 1960s, when the political dynamics changed after the Civil Rights and Voting Acts both passed, that the Republicans shifted their conservatism to accept and promote racist bullshit. The apologists love to yell and scream "But Robert Byrd was in the KKK," but goddamn them Byrd is dead now and the Klan is voting Republican today. David Duke is a publicly gushing fanboy of trump, you sons of bitches. I've said this before: Today's Republicans are NOT the Party of Lincoln, they are now the Party of Calhoun. Goddamn them.

What trump is doing today should scare every honest American, every man woman and child who believe in the melting pot of immigration and civic harmony, every human being on the planet.

We have goddamned racists in charge of the White House.


None of this shit is funny. Vote, damn you.

What the hell, Republicans.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

This Cool Thing: Live Apps Of the Apollo 11 Mission


July 16, 9:32 AM EDT.

CBS News - with Walter Cronkite, whose coverage of the space program is as legendary as the program itself - is replaying their broadcasts of the launch and the landing. Cool stuff.

There's also this live app - Apollo 11 In Real Time - running that simulates the Mission Control for the launch and mission.

The John F Kennedy Library - as JFK was the one who pushed for the moon landings as a decade-ending goal - is doing their own launch app.


Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency...

- Kennedy's "We Choose To Go To the Moon" speech

A Simple Way To Tell If trump and the GOP Are A-Holes

There is a very simple test to use.

Look and listen to what trump and his cronies are saying, when he/they are telling four Congresswomen to "go back" to whatever country trump/GOP think they're from (even when they were BORN here), when he/they are basically telling them to "LEAVE." Look at the ethnicity - Latino, Black - being attacked by Republicans right now.

Republicans believe Non-Whites are Non-Americans. It's THAT simple.

Every Birther attack (which is coming back to the fore against Kamala Harris), every voter suppression move, every time a prominent Republican accuses an ethnic minority of "hating" the United States... it all ties into that one simple basic fact.

Republicans believe Non-White are Non-Americans. They believe Blacks and Latinos and Chinese and Japanese and Arabs - many of whom can trace their ancestry in the United States back farther than half the GOP - don't count.

THAT makes it racist.

And THAT makes the entire Republican Party a bunch of assholes.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Divisive Racist In Chief

Yeah so today - which was the day trump wanted his massive ICE roundup of families and dark-skinned folks - the Loser of the Popular Vote took to his Twitter account to mock fellow Americans yet again. To link to Yoni Appelbaum at the Atlantic:

This morning, the president of the United States decided to share his thoughts with the American people:
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
It’s not clear to whom the president thought he was referring. There are 10 naturalized American citizens in the House, five of them Democratic women, but few of Donald Trump’s favorite targets number among them. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, was born in the Bronx, Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, and Ayanna Pressley in Cincinnati. And irrespective of their origins, every single member of Congress is as American as democratic dissent...
When first read, trump's tweeted taunts are a variation of a standard racist remark offered by Whites towards other Americans who just happen to be Black or Latino or Asian or Arab: "Go Back to X" where X equals "Africa" or "China" or "Japan" or "Mexico" or "Bumfuckistan" or whatever place the racist White didn't care to learn from geography class. It's an insult as old as slavery itself, as old as the anti-Chinese Exclusion Acts of the late 19th Century, as old as this weekend when trump and his goons sought to round up every Latino to ship off to Guatemala even if they were U.S. citizens...

It's a not-at-all-subtle signal from the racist Eurowhite Trash saying it that they don't believe the Black/Asian/Latino/Arab person is a true American. It's an open sign of racist disgust focused on the color of skin or the accented voice or any other little thing that makes the Eurowhite Trash feel the need to make the target of their hate run away in tears or terror.

That's all trump is good for, by the way. Being a racist insult machine eager to drop such bombs in order to get other White-Americans to cheer him on. Even though such vicious behavior is un-Christian - go read Ephesians 2:19 - and violates the diversity our immigrant-based national identity represents.

All trump is getting with his Morning Hatefest is public recognition that he's racist. Again. One more exclamation mark in the history books about how this... orange-toned life form is perhaps the worst human being to sit in the Oval Office since Andrew Johnson.

To the 62 million who knowingly, willingly voted for this Shitgibbon #RacistInChief... there will be a reckoning for the hatred you've signed on for. This shit won't last. And every last American you've insulted is going to remember your eagerness to divide our nation.

If only shame actually mattered to you deplorable bastards.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

And They're Rounding Up The Families Just Like They Promised (w/ Update)

Update: Thanks again to Batocchio for providing a link via Mike's Blog Round Up at

Banner headlines tonight:

Across U.S., anxious families brace for Trump's announced mass immigration raids

trump still wants his grand stage event of rounding up enough Latinos to make his racist fan base happy. But rather than go after the actual street gangs, they're going after the working migrants in our low-income jobs as though that will solve all ills. Separating parents from children, God knows what will happen to the infants and youngest of them.

We're going to have modern-day Gestapo charging through ten major cities to round up a thousand innocent families whose only crime was wanting to be here...

...all the while taking orders from a man who rapes underage girls for fun.

Darkest timeline, everybody.

62 million of you assholes voted for this. Goddamn you.

Added 7/12: Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly: trump Intentionally Inflicts Harm on Refugees as Show of Force.

Apparently the details of how to organize this operation are still in flux, which probably means that it is yet another example of this administration proving the British ambassador correct: they are “dysfunctional, unpredictable, clumsy, inept, and incompetent.” But there are several things that we already know about this plan that should signal alarm.
For example, administration officials admit that there will be “collateral deportations.” What that means is that people on the scene who are assumed to be immigrants might be detained, even though they are not targets of the raids. So if you happen to be in the vicinity and have brown skin, you’re likely to be jailed and possibly deported...

If you can't answer the "Papers Please" request - and as a librarian, I've been stunned over the years to see how many people do not even carry something as no-brainer as their driver's license with them - and have skin darker than Ivanka, you're fucked. Never mind how previous deportations have sent hundreds if not thousands of Honest-to-God-I-Was-Born-In-The-USA citizens were shipped off to Mexico and beyond. Now we're gonna try to do by the millions.

This is not about upholding laws. This is all about the cruelty.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

What Epstein Proves, As All Corruption Proves

With the weekend developments surrounding Jeffrey Epstein's arrests on sexual abuse of underage girls, after months of investigative reporting exposed not only his empire of sleaze but how a political-driven prosecutor like Acosta pretty much gave him an earlier slap on the wrist, we as a nation - we as humanity - ought to recognize these established truths.

There are far too many men of power who abuse people they view as their lessers, who are poor, often young, almost always women.

I rattled off a list of names in a couple of tweets this morning.

And that list is incomplete.

The sexual abuse, the financial corruption, the political rot, it all ties together. Everyone looked the other way on Roy Moore's open pursuit of teenage girls for decades in Alabama because even in his 30s he was a politically connected attorney. Hollywood moguls and celebrities, rolling in their wealth, have their goddamned casting couches. Any institution that holds ANY power over people, political or financial or religious, is going to have some nasty rot hidden among their elites, like the priests who kept molesting children while their superiors covered it up to avoid any scandal weakening their authority (or because the reforms needed to reduce such crimes - like the Catholic Church changing rules to priests can have normal sex and get married - would violate their dogma).

And as the Epstein case is proving, all of these rich, authoritative, politically connected men travel in the same goddamn circles.

We do not take rape and sexual abuse claims serious enough.

These men of power get away with what they do because our culture eagerly looks away, or excuses bad behavior out of certain - hint: White Upper Class - boys whose parents and friends all claim "He comes from a good home" after the accusations and evidence come out. How many judges have tossed aside allegations of violent sexual assaults by teen boys on teen girls, or college boys on teen girls, or 30-year-olds on teen girls, all because "Well, we don't want to ruin the bright future that's facing these fresh-faced young men." Christ, it happens enough that we've made it a cliche.

It does not help that these upper class families can afford teams of lawyers to overwhelm the courtroom, throw doubt into the mix with psychologists and privately-paid research to counter the evidence and witness testimonies. Yes, every person has a right to a legal defense. But the rights of the victims in these cases get tossed to the curb.

Nearly every state has a backlog of rape kits, untested and going bad, numbering in the tens of thousands, which allows those rapists - they never stop at one - to continue raping because the cops don't have enough physical evidence to arrest them yet.

And despite most evidence and research proving that a majority of rape and assault charges are legit, our culture cannot abide such reality. We live in a situation where every accusation becomes a "He Said She Said" and we rarely believe the She Said (even when the victim has scars and bruises across her body). We have juries who come back with Not Guilty decisions because of what the woman wore (she deserved it) or if she drank (she deserved it) or she should have known not to go to a man's house (she deserved it) or get a ride in his car (she deserved it). In this reality, we seem to blame the victim first.

Of any ethnic street gang out there, none of them have the destructive power or violence like Wall Street White Boys.

You think MS-13 is bad, or the Crips and Bloods, or the Triads? They ain't got shit on investment bankers and third generation rich boys rolling in drugs, human trafficking, and billion-dollar acts of fraud. A biker gang might mug you for your wallet. A hedge fund manager from JP Morgan will mug you for your mortgage, college debt AND pension plan.

Our nation has had a long, troubling history of Rich White Boys Behaving Badly. At what point will the bill come due?

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Predicting Character: Getting Ready for 2020

To the seven followers of this blog - can any of you just kinda, you know, raise a hand so I know you're still alive? - we're officially at the start of the Democratic primary race for the 2020 Presidential cycle, which means another round of me applying what I've learned from James David Barber's Presidential Character to predict which major candidates will end up on the Active-Passive Positive-Negative scales.

I won't need to do one for the Republicans as trump is running as the incumbent Loser of the Popular Vote, and his primary challengers are swamped by a rabid voting base that is literally worshiping the Shitgibbon as Jebus. I've already predicted trump would serve as an Active-Negative, and he has performed as Uncompromising, Compulsive, and Self-Destructive as A-Ns tend to perform.

But what about the field of Democratic candidates lining up to oppose him? Considering there's about 24 (or 26, hell make it 37) of them with hats in the ring, I may not have time to cover all of them before the actual primary counting starts happening six months from now.

So at first I'm going to plan on covering the Big Four - the names that have essentially claimed the top ranking on the roster - with enough detail to establish their characters and predict - with wild inaccuracy - which one will end up securing the nomination.

One thing to make clear: Of the four Character traits Professor Barber created, there's not really a clear favorite of "Oh, we MUST vote this one into office above all others." The traits themselves are not necessarily bad, they merely warn us what we should expect from the nominee's world views and likely behavior in office.

For example, an Active-Positive type may seem the best option but many A-Ps commit sins like overreach and most often fail to achieve goals because they're too Adaptive to stick to an agenda. Meanwhile, Active-Negatives are angry, self-destructive types but do have the drive to achieve their agenda (for good and for ill) and in some cases can be more successful at policies than an A-P ever could. And Passive-Positives may be prone to scandal-plagued administrations but are also effective deal-makers and managers during relative calm periods on the global stage. (Funny enough, very few Passive-Negatives run for President: They have to be drafted into it, so we'll rarely see one in a competitive field of candidates...)

So it won't matter, at least not right now, if our top four names - Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren - will be Passive-Positive, Active-Negative, or Active-Positive (I can tell you right now none of them are outright Passive-Negative). What will matter is "Which personality traits do Democrats think can outperform trump in November and secure victory in 2020?"

P.S. I did cover Biden back in 2016 (as well as 2008) but very briefly and without in-depth evaluation of what Character he'd be (although the title of my article should be a giveaway). I shall go into greater detail when the time comes...

P.S.S. to make it fair I rolled a 4-sided die, alphabetical order, best of three. Harris is up first.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Take the Fifth For the Fourth: Shinin' Down Like Water

I wasn't planning on this, but it has to be said before I get to bed tonight:

It rained like a motherfucker on trump's parade today.

Anne Laurie flashed a number of Tweets on Balloon Juice, here is a screen capture of one:

The tanks ended up being in front of trump's presentation to make himself look better rather than intimidate attendees along the fringe. The area was fenced out to just VIP attendees, and the overall impression from folks on the ground was that it was a small turnout in the hundreds rather than thousands.

I've seen a number of atheists on Twitter openly question their lack of faith in the face of solid evidence that God exists and She's pissed at trump. I'm quietly encouraging them to consider Unitarianism, which may be the most proselytizing I've ever done in a day. Anyway. This wet fart from trump deserves a hearty FUCK YOU laugh before heading to bed. G'night.

Four For the Fourth 2019 Part WHAT THE FOURTH IS THIS SH-T!

I really don't want to go spreading wild rumors, so for starters I don't believe a word of this. However, this craziness is out there and requires an impartial and professional review.

To wit: There are a bunch of crazy-ass QAnon trumpsters who believe John-John, AKA John Kennedy Jr., the Prince That Was Promised sex symbol of the 1990s, faked his death in 1999, spent the last twenty years hiding in Pittsburgh, and has turned into an avid trump supporter who is willing to go public this 4th of July to sign up as trump's 2020 Veep running mate.


I CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP. I may write as a hobby and get a few things published here and there, but JESUS TAPDANCING CHRIST I cannot delve into this level of the absurd. Here's Rolling Stone's EJ Dickson's take on it:

On this scientific scale, John F. Kennedy Jr. falls somewhere in between Judy Garland and former Minnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett; all of which is to say, he is extremely, irrefutably dead. In July 1999, the pulchritudinous son of John and Jackie Kennedy and cofounder of George magazine perished in a tragic plane crash at the age of 38, along with his wife Carolyn Bessette and his sister-in-law Lauren. At least, this is the conventional narrative perpetuated by the fake news media, according to supporters of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. Hardcore Q believers think that JFK Jr. is not only alive and well, but also that he plans to emerge from his 20-year hiatus from public life by coming out and supporting Trump as his running mate in 2020. Moreover, they believe that a guy in Pittsburgh named Vincent Fusca is actually JFK Jr. in disguise, and they have made T-shirts promoting this belief...
The theory that JFK Jr. is alive and a Trump supporter and a hirsute former financial services professional who lives in Pittsburgh has been percolating in QAnon forums for at least the past year. But it recently made a resurgence on YouTube, where QAnon supporters are posting tutorials for how to make JFK Jr. face masks to wear to Trump’s much-hyped July 4th rally, when they believe JFK Jr. will finally emerge from hiding. The goal of the masks, according to Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer, is for believers to be able to easily identify other QAnon supporters (though, frankly, this seems unlikely, as the shock of seeing a long-dead celebrity casually walking around Washington would almost certainly inspire mass fear and panic in the streets)...
To be fair, not every Q believer buys into the idea that JFK Jr. staged his own death and is secretly posing as a Trump supporter from Pittsburgh. But the belief has gained enough traction among Q supporters that it’s worth engaging seriously with how such beliefs spread, and why they gain acceptance in some circles...

The world of a Conspiracy believer - a Truther, a Birther, any of them - from Salem Witches to Jim Crow race-baiters to Turner Diary readers is all based on a belief that the world is crap (which is half-true) but that it's crap for a reason (The conspiracies that the wingnuts KNOW exist, depending on their own racial and religious hatreds) and that the Conspiracy Theorist alone (even among the thousands of others) is the one truthteller setting the world free.

In short, ego-driven fantasies that they will rise up and the rest of us will fall or show adoration.

This is similar to those End Times believers: The innate desire to rise above the mundane world through mystery and tragedy and cosmic forces beyond our ken. They are just as disdainful of the facts and just as eager to see the world end just to prove themselves correct. It's mostly sad, except for the poor souls who drive themselves to self-harm or violence because of it.

There's entire books on how the United States is prone - and vulnerable - to wild accusations and troubling groupthink. This is just one more crazy plot line in a crazy and dark timeline our nation has to endure.

Look, I personally believe - or want to believe - that Elvis and Freddie Mercury are both alive, having achieved immortality and riding across the United States solving crimes. But that's just the whimsy in me. I know they're dead, I know this world is not fantasy, and besides I have no idea which bike either of them had a preference for (I'm thinking Triumphs, but that's actually Dylan's preferred ride).

Elvis is dead, people. John-John too. Just focus on solving the problems of the real world, okay?

Four For the Fourth 2019 The Third Act

And now, as part of my Four-Part attempt to blog like mad on the 4th of July, you get an awesome clip from the awesome musical 1776!!! Hit it, YOUTUBE!!!




Yeah, I need to preview these clips first.

Let's try this one.

Four For the Fourth 2019 Part Two Cheating the Census

Every ten years, our nation requires a census to count the number of persons residing in the United States. We do this to apportion US House representation, to establish where the people are living to dole out funding as needed, to figure out the number of Electors per state for elections. It's one of the few direct duties outlined in the Constitution itself.

We're coming up to 2020, another census cycle. And this time, trump and the Republicans want to burn away a part of it by insisting on something that would ensure fewer responses: They want to count citizens not persons... knowing full well the non-citizens - the illegals, the migrant workers, the visa workers, even the naturalized - would be afraid to get caught or punished filling out the census form.

It may have been only one question, but it would have forced an undercounting of actual residents - the Constitution says only persons - to the tune of millions of people. It would cull back any increase of representatives to states where a migrant population would be: Not just the Blue states like California but also key battleground Southwest states like Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and TEXAS (and also Southeastern states like Florida and Georgia where migrant agriculture workers reside). It would reduce funding from federal block grants, screwing up social aid and education money.

The citizenship question would profit the Republicans and screw over the Democrats. It was bullshit.

The Supreme Court recently ruled on this, refusing to answer directly and instead sent the matter back to the White House and Department of Commerce because Chief Justice Roberts couldn't accept their lying lame excuse for the citizenship question. As a result, there were fears and rumors among the punditry that trump would try again, delay the census altogether, or outright ignore the courts and force a Constitutional showdown.

A few days ago, the story got out that the DOJ was no longer delaying the publication of the census and that the Commerce Department was going to start working on it as June 30th was the latest they could go without tripping over their timetable (I've done census work before as Enumerator, trust me there's a multi-stage process to the whole thing and everything's on deadline).

And then trump tweeted it out (via Cheryl Rofer at Balloon Juice) that he still wants his damned citizenship question:

A federal judge, George Jarrod Hazel, involved in the enforcement of the decision happened to be on Twitter and caught the tweet. He called a teleconference among the relevant lawyers. The transcript is here, and something of a hoot. It’s relatively short and worth reading, but I’ll excerpt some of the good parts...
One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers asks for a stipulated order that the printing go ahead without the question and a provision that the defendants not communicate the contrary to the public. Judge Hazel is concerned that they are talking about issuing the order to the President.
From another of the plaintiffs’ lawyers:
The President’s tweet has some of the same effects that the addition of the question would in the first place and some of the same effects on the 18-month battle that was just waged over the citizenship question. It leaves the immigrant communities to believe that the Government is still after information that could endanger them. If you add that to the interview that the President did, sharing that his reason for wanting the citizenship question on the form was so that the Government could distinguish between citizens and illegal aliens and how nonsensical that is, it has the effect of leading the public to believe that the Census is not only after that information but is willing to violate some of the provinces of protection that our plaintiff organizations have been trying to reassure communities about.
So we strongly believe that we’re going to need some affirmative commitment, whether it’s through a stipulation or by order of this Court, an affirmative commitment from the Government to counter misinformation wherever in the Government that it comes from, a commitment that they will respond quickly and comprehensively to that kind of misinformation.
Uh-huh, looks like she’s talking about the President...

The judge wants them all back in court this Friday. I hope Hazel throws the Large Print copy of Blackstone at the DOJ lawyers' heads.

trump meanwhile is mulling an Executive Order, directly ignoring the courts and performing an act of executive overreach that would have serious repercussions for our federal system of Checks and Balances. He's essentially daring the Judiciary to hold him in contempt, he's essentially threatening Congress to mess with their necessary reapportionment for the coming decade.

I pray to God the judge overseeing this matter does hold trump and his officers in contempt here. trump is pursuing not only an illegal and racist policy decision, he's threatening the entire legal system with this stance.

Hold him accountable, dammit.

Four For the Fourth 2019 Phase One In Which trump Gets His Oafs

There's not much about this year's 4th of July being a happy one. Balloon Juice via Anne Laurie has its own nice roundup of how bad a clusterfuck trump's hijacking of the DC celebrations will turn out to be - and for once I am happily calling for bad weather in the Virginia-Maryland region for every hour between 11AM to 10PM today - but all in all this is going to be the most dour Independence Day I've endured in a long time.

Laurie links to Esquire's Charlie Pierce, who deserves a few quotes here about how bad this Fourth can get:

Oh, and in case you thought the sheer grift had been neglected, fear not. This is a taxpayer-funded, self-promoting campaign wankfest, just like all of those that get him so turgid out in airplane hangars and vacant arenas across this great republic...  At this point, I'm amazed he hasn't demanded that they float the Nimitz up the Potomac...
Because this is a celebration of all Americans, and not a political event at all, the tickets are being handed out by the Republican National Committee. Some of the president*'s loudest and proudest supporters are planning a real hootenanny for themselves; after all, yelling at detained and destitute migrants through a cyclone fence can only go so far as a demonstration of your commitment to the country's founding values. This thing has the potential to be the biggest, chewiest cluster of fck in Washington since the last time Louie Gohmert dined alone. And an infinitely more perilous one.
This is out-and-out banana republic authoritarian performance art. That it also is obviously a multimillion-dollar exercise in low comedy is sadly beside the point. It should be mocked, relentlessly and everywhere, by every American who still has a sense of dignity and a vague memory of what an actual celebration of patriotism feels like...
There are separate reports that the turnout even among the Republican elites will be minor: Most elected officials had already left for the long holidays last week and had previous plans for their 4ths. Even with good weather, trump's handlers are fearing a meager turnout - most of the people who attend the usual fireworks are locals, and the locals in DC have already proven they do not love trump - and that he'll have a dangerous reaction if this show of his gets bad attendance figures (how many Press Secretaries are gonna lie for his ass after this one?).

I've said it before. The best way to handle trump's Tribute to His Own Pasty Orange Ass is to ignore it (but dammit, we need to keep our ears open if he tries to pull any shit on us).

Better off spending this day with friends. Taking a baked bean casserole for my friends' house party tonight. Salut.

Monday, July 01, 2019

America At Our Worst: Racists Are Running the Camps (w/Update)

Update: Thanks to adding me today to Mike's Blog Roundup! There are reports this morning that Congress will open public hearings on the mistreatment in these camps and there's an Inspector General's report I wanna link to later.

Jesus Christ (via AC Thompson at ProPublica):

Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, according to screenshots of their postings.

What the hell.

Created in August 2016, the Facebook group is called “I’m 10-15” and boasts roughly 9,500 members from across the country. (10-15 is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.”) The group described itself, in an online introduction, as a forum for “funny” and “serious” discussion about work with the patrol. “Remember you are never alone in this family,” the introduction said.
Responsible for policing the nation’s southern and northern boundaries, the Border Patrol has come under intense scrutiny as the Trump administration takes new, more aggressive measures to halt the influx of undocumented migrants across the United States-Mexico border. The patrol’s approximately 20,000 agents serve under the broader U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which has been faulted for allegedly mistreating children and adults in its custody. The agency’s leadership has been in turmoil, with its most recent acting chief, John Sanders, resigning last week.

9,500 out of 20,000? Granted, there are former border agents in that Facebook page, but there's a likelihood of close to HALF the people employed by that agency being a bunch of goddamned racists.

And what the HELL is Facebook doing hosting a site like this?

The Border Patrol Facebook group is the most recent example of some law enforcement personnel behaving badly in public and private digital spaces. An investigation by Reveal uncovered hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers who moved in extremist Facebook circles, including white supremacist and anti-government groups. A team of researchers calling themselves the Plain View Project recently released a hefty database of offensive Facebook posts made by current and ex-law enforcement officers.
And in early 2018, federal investigators found a raft of disturbing and racist text messages sent by Border Patrol agents in southern Arizona after searching the phone of Matthew Bowen, an agent charged with running down a Guatemalan migrant with a Ford F-150 pickup truck. The texts, which were revealed in a court filing in federal court in Tucson, described migrants as “guats,” “wild ass shitbags,” “beaners” and “subhuman.” The messages included repeated discussions about burning the migrants up.

These are not good cops posting this crap. These are not honorable or respectable or professional people.

If you think all of the reports coming out of trump's concentration camps are "mere" exaggerations, look at these guards assigned to work these facilities and read what they're posting and sharing as jokes, mocking children who don't deserve such hate, laughing to themselves as though forcing women to give oral is just "good fun" for shits and giggles.

Read what these men are calling the families and children that are supposed to be under their care: "shitbags," "beaners," "subhuman." These are NOT terms of endearment.

That "subhuman" description should terrify you. It's that kind of dehumanizing talk the haters use to justify their violence against the people they hate. It's the language of the Klansman accusing Blacks of being "rapists and thieves," of Nazis accusing Jews of being "vermin."

This isn't free speech. This isn't anyone's right to say what they want. Because this is the kind of language and beliefs that kills people.

I hope to God there's an investigation. I hope to God every current Border Patrol officer found on that Facebook page loses their jobs, because GOD HELP US THOSE MEN SHOULD NOT BE IN CHARGE OF THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF ANYONE ELSE.

This is horrifying.

CLOSE THOSE GODDAMN CAMPS. There are better ways to handle migrant families. There are humane, CHRISTIAN ways of keeping immigrant families intact and healthy while we get them either home or established here to a path of citizenship.


What the hell, America?