"The Flat Earth Society has members all round the globe"
"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg
"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"
“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
That always happens -- when there are meteor showers, too.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Kyle Chapman was sitting in a dimly lit Irish pub about 20 minutes outside of Boston, where Saturday afternoon’s so-called “Free Speech Rally” had just been shut down by tens of thousands of counter-protesters.
“The white man is one of the most discriminated against people in this entire country right now,” he explained.
Chapman—a muscly right-wing organizer who went viral earlier this year after video footage showed him swinging a heavy wooden stick at liberal Berkley demonstrators—had been scheduled to speak at the rally on Boston Common. But organizers ended up pulling the plug early, he said, when the crowd of counter-protesters grew too large. After being escorted to safety by police, he and other attendees retired here to lick their (metaphorical) wounds.
“I was definitely concerned for my safety and the safety of the other attendees,” Chapman said. “The barricades [that police] set up were four-foot barricades and … there would have been no way to stop the alt-left domestic terrorists if they decided to attack us.”
"Alt-left domestic terrorists"? Seriously? Can you say "brain-washed"?
It gets worse:
Chapman, for example, told me he did not under any circumstances consider himself a white nationalist. “But I can tell you that there is a war against whites,” he said. “Whites are discriminated against en masse. I personally have been the victim of multiple hate crimes. As a people, we do have our own grievances, we do have our own story to tell.” Until it becomes safe to discuss that reality in mainstream political circles, he argued, victimized whites will continue to gravitate toward the alt-right.
That one doesn't even require much parsing: it's right there, in his own words.
The first reaction is to tag this sort of thing as Trumpism, come out into the light. It's not, really -- it's a segment of the populace that's always been with us, always has a grievance, always wants to return to the "good ol' days" of unquestioned privilege, a segment that Trump tapped into and that has now been co-opted by the radical right, the neo-Nazis, the "Christian" dominionists, those who are fine with militarized police forces operating without controls. Trump just strokes them, validates them: they're delighted to have, if not an outright fascist, fascist sympathizer in the White House.
And I have the distinct feeling that a significant portion of them, like this Chapman guy, have no idea what they've gotten themselves into.
Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.
It will only be a partial eclipse in Chicago, but I may hang out at the Zoo and check out how the animals are reacting. If they react. It would be interesting to be someplace where the eclipse will be total:
Margarita Woc Colburn’s childhood memories of a July 1991 total solar eclipse in Central America are of a social gathering for excited adult relatives who spent hours waiting for an event that was over in minutes.
But the future veterinarian’s gaze was drawn earthward.
“I was looking down on a valley in Guatemala, and I just remember the flock of birds, this massive thing going down to the trees getting ready for nesting, just like what you see at night,” Woc Colburn said, describing a short span when the moon completely obscured the sun. “Then, it felt like a new day. Birds came out and were singing.”
Actually, looking at the map of the path, I'm not sure there will be enough eclipse to notice.
|Image: Eclipse 2017.org|
Via Balloon Juice.
|Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. Photo:Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons|
“When you go back a couple of hundred years, in most instances the only textbooks that were in our public schools were in the Bible,” Bevin claimed.
“And it’s interesting that the more we’ve removed any sense of spiritual obligation or moral higher authority or absolute right and wrong, the more we’ve removed things that are biblically taught from society, the more we’ve seen the kind of mayhem that we were just discuss[ing],” he continued.
I suppose I can't expect a "Christian" like Bevin to understand the basis of morality. It's only to be expected, all things considered, that he'd be sympathetic to a bunch of white supremacists.
Hemant Mehta had the perfect response:
“And why are we trying to replicate our education system from hundreds of years ago,” Mehta added.
Because those were the good ol' days?
And Bevin's solution to violence in our cities:
Bevin’s official plan to reduce an epidemic of violence in Louisville’s troubled West End was for people to walk the neighborhood praying for “two to three times a week during the next year.”
“The weekend following Gov. Matt Bevin’s prayer plan was marred by violence, leaving four dead in just three days,” the Courier-Journal noted.
Nine additional homicides have been committed in Louisville since that tragic weekend.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Tweeting the morning after 13 people were killed in Barcelona after a van plowed through crowds in a busy pedestrian area, President Donald Trump called on American courts to "give us our protective rights back" to stop "Radical Islamic Terrorism."
While it's unclear what "protective rights" the president was referring to, he has previously advocated for an expansion of the US' mass surveillance capabilities, and Trump's top intelligence officials, including CIA director Mike Pompeo, have fought even narrow restrictions on the surveillance state.
Yeah, I think the subtext is pretty obvious. Can you say "Sieg Heil!"?
And do note the fallback: "radical Islamic terrorism", less than a week after a good example of radical Nazi terrorism right here at home.
Earlier this week, the president refused to label an attack on a group of protesters by a white supremacist in Charlottesville terrorism, even though the Justice Department is investigating the crime as an act of terror.
But there were "good people" involved in that march. You could tell by their guns.
Still wondering if New Zealand is far enough away.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Nearly two-thirds of Americans consider the attack that led to loss of life in Charlottesville an act of "domestic terrorism," a view that spans partisan lines. But President Trump's response to Charlottesville finds more division.
He gets majority disapproval overall for his response to the events, while most Republicans approve. Republicans interviewed following Tuesday's press conference also feel Mr. Trump is assigning blame accurately in the matter, while Democrats and Independents, and the country overall, disagree.
Read the whole article -- they surveyed several questions around the events in Charlottesville, and the responses from Republicans are -- well, not reassuring.
And another from The Guardian, via Bark Bark Woof Woof:
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Brand new trailer for God's Own Country. In UK cinemas 1st September. You're welcome pic.twitter.com/VHxmAfylk1— God's Own Country (@gocfilm) August 11, 2017
It looks like the release date is back to September 1. although IMDb is listing it as in theaters October 27.
Duh -- I just read the footer on the clip and noted it's in UK theaters on September 1. More coffee. Or maybe less coffee.
(And I just realized that September is next month! WTF?)
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
So when anybody, especially the president*, talks about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, from the Citronella Putsch on Friday night, to the violence on Saturday morning, to the graphic fulfillment of the philosophy behind these lunatic laws on Saturday afternoon, tells you that what happened in Virginia has anything to do with "polarization," or that it is a problem equally shared by Both Sides, that person is trying preemptively to pick history's pockets.
Every Republican who ever played footsie with the militias out west owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican who ever spoke to, or was honored by, the Council of Conservative Citizens and/or the League of the South owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican administration that ever went out of its way to hire Pat Buchanan, and every TV executive who ever cut him a check, and every Republican who voted for him in 1992, and everyone who ever has pretended his views differed substantially from the ones in the streets this weekend, owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican president—actually, there's only one—who began a campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to talk about states rights, and who sent his attorney general into court to fight for tax exemptions for segregated academies, owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican who ever played footsie with the militias out west owns this bloodshed.
Every Republican politician who followed the late Lee Atwater into the woods in search of poisoned treasure owns this bloodshed.
Every conservative journalist who saw this happening and who encouraged it, or ignored it, or pretended that it wasn't happening, owns this bloodshed.
Read it. It's pretty strong stuff.
The U.S. Justice Department, currently headed by Attorney General Sessions, has demanded DreamHost—the company currently hosting disruptj20.org—to provide all information available about the website, it’s owner and its visitors.
On July 12, a search warrant was issued by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that required DreamHost disclose a significant amount of information that would be stored on the company’s servers. The warrant included a request for all files associated with the site, email accounts the contents of those accounts associated with the site and contact and billing information of the person who registered the site.
The warrant also demanded DreamHost disclose any information it had about people who simply visited the website. The Justice Department asked for the IP addresses of visitors, which would generally provides information about a visitor’s location and other potentially identifiable information, as well as contact information of people who used the site.
Sounds like -- what? The USSR under Stalin? Italy when the trains were running on schedule? Given the events of this past weekend, and Trump's obvious sympathy with the Nazis and white supremacists who precipitated the mess, I'll go with Germany in the '30s.
And he couldn't have found a more willing enforcer than Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.
Monday, August 14, 2017
Donald Trump’s campaign for his 2020 re-election has released a new ad attacking Democrats, the media and “career politicians” just one day after the president refused to denounce white supremacism.
“Democrats, obstructing – the media, attacking our president,” the ad begins, displaying imagery featuring Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters, various hosts and commentators at MSNBC, CNN and others. “Career politicians, standing in the way of success. But President Trump’s plan is working.”
The propaganda-fueled video then proceeds to tout job creation, the stock market and a strong military as Donald Trump’s successes, noting that “the president’s enemies don’t want him to succeed.”
"The president's enemies" -- think about how that resonates for a second. And how long before that gets morphed into "enemies of the people"?
There's much commentary on the fact that Trump did not denounce the Nazis demonstrating in Charlottesville. I can't figure out why everyone is so surprised: he agrees with them. He believes the same things they do. I suppose it's to his credit that he retains at least that little shred of honesty, but there's an element of self-preservation involved: they are his base.
And do note that he has had nothing to do with anything he's taking credit for. Again, typical.
The must-read is here. It's not that long, but it pulls a lot of things together:
In late August, in a speech delineating white nationalist support for Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unveiled a new title for Russian President Vladimir Putin: “The Grand Godfather of Extreme Nationalism.” With the sinecure, Clinton sought to directly link the odious policies of her Republican counterpart — namely, mainstreaming a racialized, white supremacist discourse the United States had not seen at such levels in a generation — to those brought to bear under Putin’s third term.
The epithet built upon one of the pillars of Clinton’s campaign which, in turn, built upon the primary campaign of former GOP contender, and current Ohio governor, John Kasich. That is, in addition to Trump’s outright praise for Putin’s leadership, as well as his murky, secretive financial ties to those close to the Kremlin, Clinton tied Trump to the Kremlin’s campaign of stoking hyper-nationalistic movements throughout the West.
As a rhetorical device, the title remains a flurry of brilliance. Not only does the terminology help highlight the Kremlin’s kleptocratic coterie — with Putin as don, as mafioso — but it also further emphasized Clinton’s grasp of Moscow’s policies, and the motivations therein. As seen with Hungary’s Jobbik, with France’s National Front, with Greece’s Golden Dawn, those far-right movements sprouting throughout Europe have found a counterpart in Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party. And much as Trump has aped the rotted, regressive policies of Putin-friendly leaders throughout Europe — see: Hungary’s Viktor Orban — so, too, has he helped give a national platform to the groups and movements that have not only fueled a resurgence of white nationalism in the United States, but who have gone out of their way to praise, of all international leaders, Putin. These groups, as noted in Clinton’s speech, include the “alt-right,” a gathering of fascists and white nationalists who would Balkanize the United States or who would return the country to a bygone era of white supremacy, but also extend to the secessionists and Christian fundamentalists further propping Trump’s campaign.
The article was published in the fall of last year, before the election, but it's scarily prescient.
Footnote: They just don't get it:
“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” Cvjetanovic opined. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”
He sounds like a thoughtful young man, but he's missing a big part of the message that he's pushing by attending that march: do you suppose he understand the "supremacy" part of "white supremacy"?
Sunday, August 13, 2017
At any rate, it's that time of week again, there's interesting stuff to be had, so click through and enjoy.
I've always loved Brahms. My first exposure to "classical" music happened when I was about eight or nine; we always had music -- my mother came from a very musical family -- but it was all kids' records ("Brave Cowboy Bill"), country, and Elvis. At any rate, my dad brought home a surplus 78 rpm recording of the Brahms D Minor piano concerto -- the music teacher at his school was upgrading to 33s -- and I went nuts. If you follow this blog, or my reviews, you can see where that led.
At any rate, it's been, so far, the D Minor, the complete symphonies (the von Karajan recordings), and maybe next the piano quintet -- or the second piano concerto.
|Image via Digby|
A more detailed account, from Josh Eaton at Think Progress.
And more on Trump's response:
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," he said, repeating the final phrase for emphasis.
"It's been going on for a long time in our country; it's not Donald Trump, it's not Barack Obama," he added, without specifying what "it" referred to.
Actually, I'm amazed that he didn't lay it at Obama's feet. \
There's a lot of commentary about the "all sides do it" cast to his response, and the fact that he didn't condemn the Nazi marchers or the terrorist attack: as one of the commenters at one of the JMG posts noted, he's not going to condemn the Nazi protesters -- they're his strongest supporters. And a commenter at another post (which I can't locate right now) pointed out that he shares their beliefs -- remember how at one point he was waxing eloquent about his good genes?
Just another day in Trump's America.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
First, via Joe.My.God., a perennial nutjob, "Pastor" Kevin Swanson, of some megachurch in the Southwest someplace:
|Image: Right Wing Watch|
On his radio program today, extremist anti-LGBTQ pastor Kevin Swanson and his co-host Bill Jack declared that “sexualized public schools that violate God’s law with high levels of flagrancy” should be burned to the ground.
Swanson and Jack were outraged by the fact that Washington state public schools teach students about gender identity issues, with Swanson at one point connecting this issue to a rape allegation against an employee at the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Rape is also against God’s law and I guess it must be against state law; I’m not getting why, though,” Swanson said. “Why in the world is a sexual crime against the law in the state of Washington if the other forms of crimes are not against the law in the state of Washington? See, this is confusing to me.”
I suspect most things having to do with objective reality are confusing to Swanson.
And here's the key:
Swanson and Jack agreed that if parents from the 1950s saw what was happening in the schools today, “they would want to burn them down.”
Excuse me, "Pastor" Swanson? You do realize it's not the 1950s any more?
Next, again via Joe, someone who's not nearly as important as he thinks he is:
|Image vie Joe.My.God.|
CNN fired conservative commentator Jeffrey Lord on Thursday after he tweeted a Nazi salute at a critic.
A network spokesperson confirmed that Lord was no longer with the network and said “Nazi salutes are indefensible.” The statement came hours after Lord tweeted the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil!” at the head of a liberal advocacy group, Media Matters for America.
Lord said in a telephone interview Thursday night that he respected CNN and its journalists, but fundamentally disagreed with the network’s decision to fire him. He said his “Sieg Heil!” tweet was not an endorsement of Nazism or fascist tactics, but was meant to mock Media Matters and its use of boycotts of advertisers of conservative voices such as Sean Hannity, which Lord equated with fascism.
But, of course, outfits like One Million Moms and the American Family Association calling for boycotts is an entirely different thing.
And of course, his rights are being violated:
He called himself a “First Amendment fundamentalist” and called CNN’s decision disappointing. “From my perspective CNN caved on the First Amendment of all things. I disagree. I respectfully disagree.”
I really hate being the one to break the news, Mr. Lord, but the First Amendment does not guarantee your right to be a fascist asshole in a non-government setting.
And Joe comes through again: The NRA can always be counted on for something near-treasonous:
|NRA TV, via Joe.My.God.|
An NRA television host has apologized for suggesting that one of America’s enemies abroad could switch their sights from the Western Pacific to liberals in the U.S.
“Let's send a note to North Korea that Sacramento changed its name to Guam!” NRA TV personality Grant Stinchfield posted on Twitter Friday morning.
It was not immediately clear why Stinchfield suggested Northern California as a possible substitute for the destruction that Pyongyang has threatened against America’s territory east of the Philippines.
Not clear why he suggested (and I love that -- he didn't "suggest" anything) northern California? It's those San Francisco values, of course.
An these jokers have no self-awareness at all:
“It was meant as a joke and I regret it,” he said by phone.
. . .
Stinchfield previously used his show to blast liberal opponents’ focusing on President Trump in the North Korea situation, saying that “there is nothing funny about an attack on America.”
I may come back to this -- I mean, that's how bad it's gotten: this is just the highlights (lowlights?) of reports from one site.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Critics of President Trump have repeatedly warned of his potential to undermine American democracy. Among the concerns are his repeated assertions that he would have won the popular vote had 3 to 5 million “illegals” not voted in the 2016 election, a claim echoed by the head of a White House advisory committee on voter fraud.
Claims of large-scale voter fraud are not true, but that has not stopped a substantial number of Republicans from believing them. But how far would Republicans be willing to follow the president to stop what they perceive as rampant fraud? Our recent survey suggests that the answer is quite far: About half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election until the country can fix this problem.
As the article notes, this is hypothetical, but any bets on whether Trump will try it?
Nevertheless, we do not believe that these findings can be dismissed out of hand. At a minimum, they show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied).
These are the "real Americans": the ones who don't believe in equal rights for all, who hate our independent judiciary, who think their "religious freedom" takes precedence over everyone else's rights, who think the press should be muzzled, who think only they deserve adequate health insurance, and on down the line.
The Republican party has spent the last thirty-odd years working toward this. Now it's out there.
Is anyone surprised?
Thursday, August 10, 2017
I wanted to clarify that I believe the Bible, especially Romans 13, does give President Trump moral authority to use whatever force necessary, including assassination or even war, to topple an evil dictator like Kim Jong Un. And I believe the Bible is very clear about that.
There's one small problem with that: the Christian Bible is not our governing document. And our governing document, the Constitution of the United States of America, is very concerned with setting limits on the powers of the president.
But here's the funny part:
And one thing I know about President Trump after being around him for the last two years is this: unlike his predecessor, when President Donald Trump draws a red line, he’s not going to erase it, move away from it, or back down from it.
No, he'll just pretend he never said it -- and then start in on how he won the popular vote by millions.
There's video at the link, but my stomach's not up to actually watching it this morning.
And if you're not familiar with Jeffress, here's a nice little recap.
The man's beyond delusional. Unless, of course, he's just another reflexive liar.
Six of one. . . .
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Footnote: The County Hospital has signs in English, Spanish, and Polish, and also offers interpreters in a number of other languages.
Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.
A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.
The only appropriate response:
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
If you wanted to destroy the Fox News, you really wanted to destroy them, what would you do? Well you would send some salacious material, ostensibly from one of their popular co-hosts or hosts and you’d send it out and then get it publicized and then you have some woman complain that she had gotten this salacious material from this co-host and then she would come to Fox, and Fox is so averse to any kind of legal action that they would immediately take the person off the air, so before long you would have decimated the prime time line up of all the Fox hosts. Easy to do? Absolutely. Is it being done? Probably.
Researchers have developed a device that can switch cell function to rescue failing body functions with a single touch. The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions.
“It takes just a fraction of a second. You simply touch the chip to the wounded area, then remove it,” said Chandan Sen, PhD, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “At that point, the cell reprogramming begins.”
In a series of lab tests, researchers applied the chip to the injured legs of mice that vascular scans showed had little to no blood flow. “We reprogrammed their skin cells to become vascular cells,” Sen said. “Within a week we began noticing the transformation.”
By the second week, active blood vessels had formed, and by the third week, the legs of the mice were saved—with no other form of treatment.
“It extends the concept known as gene therapy, and it has been around for quite some time,” said study collaborator James Lee, PhD, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State. “The difference with our technology is how we deliver the DNA into the cells.”
The implications are, to say the least, staggering.
"Better Living Through Technology" -- with a nod to Hugo Gernsback.
Monday, August 07, 2017
Why did Obamacare survive? The shocking answer: It’s still here because it does so much good. Tens of millions have health coverage — imperfect, but far better than none at all — thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Millions more rest easier knowing that coverage will still be available if something goes wrong — if, for example, they lose their employer-sponsored plan or develop a chronic condition.
Which raises a big question: Why did the prospect of health reform produce so much popular rage in 2009 and 2010?
As might be expected, it's because the right has a very effective propaganda machine:
The question then becomes why so many people believed these lies. The answer, I believe, comes down to a combination of identity politics and affinity fraud.
Whenever I see someone castigating liberals for engaging in identity politics, I wonder what such people imagine the right has been doing all these years. For generations, conservatives have conditioned many Americans to believe that safety-net programs are all about taking things away from white people and giving stuff to minorities.
And those who stoked Obamacare rage were believed because they seemed to some Americans like their kind of people — that is, white people defending them against you-know-who.
Read it -- he goes into detail.
And it occurs to me that this has implications far wider than health care -- I mean, this is how we wound up with that tweeting migraine in the White House.
The betting was that law-and-order Attorney General Jeff Sessions would come out against the legalized marijuana industry with guns blazing. But the task force Sessions assembled to find the best legal strategy is giving him no ammunition, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials, has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views. The group’s report largely reiterates the current Justice Department policy on marijuana.
I guess it takes longer than six months to turn the Justice Department into a bunch of yes-men.
Via NCRM, which notes:
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced legislation this week to eliminate marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug, decriminalizing it at the federal level.
Sunday, August 06, 2017
Saturday, August 05, 2017
In late June, Serbia’s Ana Brnabic became the world’s fifth-ever openly gay prime minister. Ireland’s Leo Varadkar took office in May. Luxembourgian Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, who is married, took office in late 2013. Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (also married) was in office from 2009 to 2013. Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo was in office from 2011 to 2014.
That's a footnote to a post about Irish PM Leo Varadkar visiting Northern Ireland, where he appeared at a Pride event, "upsetting some social conservatives in the only region of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is still illegal."
Awww. Poor little snowflakes.
First, did you know that the American left was the inspiration for the Nazis? Well, none other than Dinesh D'Souza, convicted felon and right-wing hack, has the goods:
This week on Facebook, D’Souza said, "FACT: Hitler got many of his destructive, genocidal ideas from American Democrats."
On Amazon, his book's page reads:
What is "the big lie" of the Democratic Party? That conservatives—and President Donald Trump in particular—are fascists. Nazis, even. In a typical comment, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow says the Trump era is reminiscent of "what it was like when Hitler first became chancellor."
But in fact, this audacious lie is a complete inversion of the truth. Yes, there is a fascist threat in America—but that threat is from the Left and the Democratic Party. The Democratic left has an ideology virtually identical with fascism and routinely borrows tactics of intimidation and political terror from the Nazi Brownshirts.
That's a really stellar performance from a has-been-before-he-ever-was.
And, from one of our perennial favorite nutjobs, another has-been, Michele Bachmann, in response to the city of Minneapolis setting up a hotline to report hate crimes:
"What we're seeing is that hotlines are being set up by units of government for the purpose of encouraging people to call in and rat on their fellow man to report a hate crime," Bachmann blathered, clearly confusing hate crimes with hate speech.
"What they're trying to do is implement anti-blasphemy laws. They're trying to implement Islamic Sharia law locally in order to quiet churches and quiet anybody who would talk about what the truth is about Islam."
Installed during June, the hotline immediately received " viable" reports of assault, property damage, and " harassing behaviors." However, Bachmann maintained that the hotline is an act of "civilization jihad" against good Christian folk like herself who just want to tell Muslims how evil they are.
"What the truth is about Islam" -- I doubt that Bachmann can figure out what the truth is about anything.
At any rate, it's become obvious that the right has adopted projection as a major weapon in their war against America.
Friday, August 04, 2017
I've written about Sinclair Broadcasting many times. But this look at the latest from Media Matters shows it's starting to get very, very weird:
Local television news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group has been making headlines in recent weeks as it seeks to both double down on its requirement that its stations run mandated conservative commentary segments and vastly expand its reach into new major cities across the United States.
Plenty of recent major profiles of Sinclair have discussed its unusual tactic of designating certain conservative commentary segments it produces in its national studios as “must-runs,” meaning that every Sinclair-owned local television news station -- all 73, across 33 states and the District of Columbia -- is required to air them. The Sinclair brand has been openly right-wing for decades, causing controversy when executives similarly mandated the airing of an anti-John Kerry documentary and chose not to run a Nightline episode they viewed as critical of George W. Bush in the early 2000s.
The latest Sinclair profiles often focus on the “Bottom Line with Boris” segments starring former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, who is now employed as Sinclair’s chief political analyst. Epshteyn has been producing 60- to 90-second commentary segments several times a week since Sinclair hired him in April. Last month, Sinclair announced it would be upping Epshteyn’s segments from airing three times per week to nine.
Employees at Sinclair stations across the country, from Seattle, WA, to Washington, D.C., are expressing concerns about the clearly conservative must-run segments pushed by Sinclair executives.
Anchors at individual local news stations owned by Sinclair are seemingly not required to introduce the segments in any particular way before running them; in fact, employees at at least one station have said they try to run the segments along with commercials “so they blend in with paid spots.” The on-air segments themselves have no built-in disclosure that Epshteyn was until recently employed by the same White House he now regularly lavishes with on-air praise (online versions of his commentary note his White House connection). Viewers also might not know that Sinclair’s efforts to expand to new cities across the country and corner the markets in mid-sized cities in battleground states are possible only because of the deregulatory efforts of the administration Epshteyn loves so dearly.
Looks like those who see news outlets as propaganda outlets are starting to get really serious.
Add on another, again from Digby, and think about how "conservative" outlets have contributed to this:
The Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of the Trayvon Williams shooting in 2013, gained momentum after Ferguson, as did various organizations working on policing reform. Awareness seemed to be growing that the drug war had become a real war. As the ACLU report, “The War Comes Home” stated:
All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged.
Our neighborhoods are not warzones, and police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. Any yet, every year, billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. Departments use these wartime weapons in everyday policing, especially to fight the wasteful and failed drug war, which has unfairly targeted people of color.
For a brief moment it felt as if there might be the political will to put a stop to some of these excesses. But of course for every action there’s a reaction, and a backlash against Black Lives Matter and police reform grew as well. When Donald Trump came along promising to be the “law and order” president and won the election, whatever progress was being made stalled out completely.
And who are the cheerleaders? Start with Fox; looks like Sinclair will be doing its best to catch up.
And a footnote, from Tom Sullivan:
The national NAACP has issued its first travel advisory for any state after recent violent incidents and threats against people of color. The advisory comes in part as a response to police shootings nationally and in anticipation of immigration legislation in Texas and Arizona[.]
American voters say 68 - 27 percent, including 55 - 39 percent among voters in military households, that transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
Republicans opposed transgender service 60 - 32 percent, but every other party, gender, education, age or racial group supports transgender service by margins of 22 percentage points or higher, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.
By an 89 - 8 percent margin, American voters say it should be illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation.
More acceptance of transgender people would be "a good thing for the country," 46 percent of voters say, as 14 percent say it would be "a bad thing" and 39 percent say it would not make much difference. . . .
"They put on uniforms and face the same risks as their brothers and sisters in arms for little reward other than protecting their country," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"Voters say a soldier is a soldier, no matter what his/her gender identity is.
"Voters say, 'Let them serve.'
Go ahead -- click through and read what voters think about the way health care is being handled. Whoa!
Thursday, August 03, 2017
We all know Ann Coulter as one of the intellectual lights of the conservative movement -- which goes a long way toward explaining how the conservative movement became what it is today.
If you're not familiar with Jared Taylor, here's some background via Joe.My.God:
Some background on Taylor via his Wikipedia entry:
Taylor is an American white nationalist and white supremacist. He is the founder and editor of American Renaissance, a magazine often described as a white supremacist publication. Taylor is also an author and the president of American Renaissance’s parent organization, New Century Foundation, through which many of his books have been published. He is a former member of the advisory board of The Occidental Quarterly, and a former director of the National Policy Institute, a Virginia-based white nationalist think tank. He is also a board member and spokesperson of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Yes, that’s the same National Policy Institute that threw a party for neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer at which audience members delivered Nazi salutes in the name of Donald Trump.
This calls to mind that old saw, "Lie down with dogs. . . ." The problem in this case is figuring out which is the dog and which is the flea.
For more on the "Speak English" bill, here's some background. Looks like another one of those bills that no one likes except Trump and the bigots who drafted it.
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
A tiny baby elephant got trapped in a water trough, and lions were closing in — when the most amazing thing happened 🐘💞 pic.twitter.com/URK2wfUAlp— The Dodo (@dodo) July 31, 2017
At least, we're supposed to.
Stray, but somewhat related thought: Judaism, the parent religion to Christianity (and Islam, as it happens), was a tribal religion: exclusive, xenophobic to the point of being out and out racist, strongly patriarchal and authoritarian. Along comes Jesus*, who preaches inclusivity, love, compassion, charity, generosity -- all attributes that one might find in early Judaism, but in that case limited to the members of the tribe. Jesus expanded the definition of "us."
And modern evangelical "Christians" have gone back to the worst aspects of early Judaism, while the Jews have gone the way of early Christianity.
It's an idea that requires more thought/development, but I think it has the seeds of truth.
* Oh, and about the perennial debate over whether Jesus actually existed: it doesn't matter. The myth is there.
By way of background, Fairport Convention is one of those English folk-folk/rock groups that has generated a lot of enthusiasm (trans.: "coverage") at Green Man Review over the years. I just finished editing a major overview of their career which will appear ??? (someday), and realized that I had none of their music on hand, which irony I related to our publisher. I know have access to lots of their music.
Oh, and in case you didn't know, Cropredy is essentially Fairport's own music festival.
Three Cheatham County Sheriff's deputies have been placed on administrative leave after a Pegram teen filed suit in federal court accusing them of using excessive force while he was being held at Cheatham County Jail.
Jordan Elias Norris, 19, has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court accusing the deputies of deprivation of civil rights, citing the use of excessive force and failure to protect after he was repeatedly stunned with Tasers in the jail in November 2016. He suffered more than 40 pairs of Taser burns, many of which are unaccounted for by authorities, the lawsuit states.
And, strangely enough, they're investigating:
After seeing media reports and videos not previously viewed, [Cheatham County Sheriff Mike] Breedlove said he immediately directed supervisors to examine the Sheriff's Office's current Use of Force policy. He also contacted District Attorney General Ray Crouch Jr. to request an independent investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"As Sheriff, I want our citizens to know that any inappropriate behavior that may have violated an individual's rights will not be tolerated. I have placed the employees involved on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted," he said in the statement. "We will work closely and cooperatively with the TBI and District Attorney's Office to ensure all facts are provided and all angles of this incident are thoroughly investigated."
It will be interesting to see what the investigation turns up.
And is this the sort of behavior our "President" is encouraging? Sure looks like it.
Interesting factoid: If you google the victim's name, most of the coverage of this story is from sources in the UK (and New Zealand, for some reason).
From the listing at IMDb:
Summer of 1983, Northern Italy. An American-Italian is enamored by an American student who comes to study and live with his family. Together they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them.
And here's a portion of an interview with director Luca Guadagnino.
Sidebar: I've not seen much of Armie Hammer's work, bit I remember one scene from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in which he, as Ilya Kuriakin, is talking to Henry Cavill, as Napoleon Solo: He towers over Cavill, who is not what you'd call "petite". Turns out Hammer is 6'5". (Actually, he was pretty believable as Kuriakin.)an
Another note: Looks as though the release date for God's Own Country has been pushed back. It's now October 27. Looks like I'll be hitting the movie houses again this fall.
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
“I believe it’s my right to purchase health care, I don’t believe it’s my right to pay for it for other people,” Lahren said.
That's what insurance is: pooling the risk, spreading it out over a larger group so that if something does happen, people don't go bankrupt or worse.
One wonders what her reaction is to those states (which I think is all of them at this point) that mandate that drivers must have auto insurance.
What a moron. (And of course she's a hypocrite, since she's still on her parents' insurance, thanks to Obamacare. But then, she's a Republican.)
Allowing Americans to purchase lower-priced medicines from other countries would save the federal government alone more than $6 billion, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The report comes as the pharmaceutical industry has ramped up its lobbying — including against a legislative initiative that would let Americans purchase lower-priced medicines from countries such as Canada.
Under existing law, drugmakers are permitted to produce pharmaceuticals abroad and then import them into the United States, where on average they charge Americans the highest prices for medicines in the world. However, while drugmakers themselves are allowed to import medicines, current law prohibits U.S. consumers and pharmaceutical wholesalers from doing so, even when the same medicines are sold at much lower prices abroad.
This is almost funny:
Critics, including writers at conservative think tanks such as the Cato Institute, argue that importing drugs would also import foreign price controls that, they claim, would drastically cut the drug companies’ funds for research and development of future drugs.
Considering the number of drugs that have been researched and developed under grants from the NIH, I'm not quite buying that argument.
Read it -- it's a good take on just how corrupt the pharmaceutical industry is.
John F. Kelly, President Trump’s new chief of staff, firmly asserted his authority on his first day in the White House on Monday, telling aides he will impose military discipline on a free-for-all West Wing, and he underscored his intent by firing Anthony Scaramucci, the bombastic communications director, 10 days after he was hired.
Mr. Scaramucci was forced out of his post, with the blessing of the president and his family, just days after unloading a crude verbal tirade against other members of the president’s staff, including Reince Priebus, Mr. Kelly’s beleaguered predecessor, and Stephen K. Bannon, the chief White House strategist, in a conversation with a reporter for The New Yorker.
I wonder how long Kelly will last:
Mr. Kelly, the first former general to occupy the gatekeeper’s post since Alexander Haig played that role for President Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, is charged with quelling the chaos that has defined, distracted and often derailed Mr. Trump’s White House. But the president gave Mr. Priebus many of the same assurances of control, and then proceeded to undercut and ignore him — to the point where Mr. Priebus often positioned himself at the door of the Oval Office to find out whom the president was talking to.
Can we expect a change in behavior from The Hairpiece? Not in this lifetime.
|(Ross D. Franklin/AP)|
Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who became the face of anti-immigrant law enforcement, was found guilty of criminal contempt Monday.
Arpaio, who was booted from office in Maricopa County in November, was convicted for disobeying a 2011 court order issued by a federal judge in a racial profiling case.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton issued the verdict after closing arguments were delivered to conclude the eight-day federal trial.
Arpaio, 85, was ordered to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants, but he continued to enforce them months after the order was implemented. The judge ruled the patrols had targeted Latinos.
Another one bites the dust. Trump will probably give him a position in the Department of Homeland Security.
Monday, July 31, 2017
After the debacle of the 2000 presidential election count, the US invested heavily in electronic voting systems – but not, it seems, the security to protect them.
This year at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, 30 computer-powered ballot boxes used in American elections were set up in a simulated national White House race – and hackers got to work physically breaking the gear open to find out what was hidden inside.
In less than 90 minutes, the first cracks in the systems' defenses started appearing, revealing an embarrassing low level of security. Then one was hacked wirelessly.
Of course, it's the wireless hacks that are the most worrisome:
It's one thing to physically nobble a box in front of you, which isn't hard for election officials to spot and stop. It's another to do it over the air from a distance. Apparently, some of the boxes included poorly secured Wi-Fi connectivity. A WinVote system used in previous county elections was, it appears, hacked via Wi-Fi and the MS03-026 vulnerability in WinXP, allowing infosec academic Carsten Schurmann to access the machine from his laptop using RDP. Another system could be potentially cracked remotely via OpenSSL bug CVE-2011-4109, it is claimed.
Greetings from the Defcon voting village where it took 1:40 for Carsten Schurmann to get remote access to this WinVote machine. pic.twitter.com/1Xk3baWdxv— Robert McMillan (@bobmcmillan) July 28, 2017
OK, so not all these machines are in current use, but I'd like to point out that we've known about their vulnerability to hacking just about forever, and it doesn't look like anyone in the voting machine manufacturing business is too concerned. And I'm sure The Hairpiece isn't concerned -- at least until someone hacks in and flips his votes.
Final quote: In the words of former FBI Director James Comey, ‘They're coming after America. They will be back.’
Sunday, July 30, 2017
“When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, please don’t be too nice,” Trump remarked at Suffolk County Community College.
“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”
At a time when police-community relations are arguably worse than ever before, when there is widespread criticism of racial bias in enforcement and prosecution, when almost everyone (except Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III) is aware that the "War on Drugs" is dismal failure, and almost everyday sees another story about police brutalizing random suspects, Trump comes up with something like this -- if he had set out deliberately to make the situation worse, he couldn't have done a better job.
Of course, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has no understanding of basic American principles such as the rule of law and the presumption of innocence.
By all reports, those cops in attendance loved it.
Not so much the heads of police departments around the country:
The Suffolk County Police Department was one of the first to criticize.
“The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners,” the department wrote. “Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”
New York, Los Angeles, and Boston have also weighed in.
The heads of police unions, on the other hand, were in support of Trump's remarks -- but then, they're the union equivalent of the NRA.
Of note: I haven't been able to find a reaction from the Chicago PD or the mayor to that speech. Of course, we do our best to ignore The Hairpiece here.
Many people fail to see what an anomaly Trump is and it's a real problem. They are driven to put him in the same category as previous presidents or fit him into a convenient slot in the partisan ecosystem.
He's something new.
That's not to say that the conservative movement and the GOP aren't responsible for him. They are. They created the political environment and the propaganda mill that made him possible. He is their creature. But he is unique and it's important to recognize that and remember it. This is not normal. And anything can happen.
My own take is that the Republican party has been working on a long-term solution to the problem of American democracy -- the problem, in their eyes, being that it is democracy. Now they've got Trump, and he's more than they bargained for. If we survive the Kim Jong-Uns (the one in North Korea and the one in the White House), there's still going to be a major mess in this country that we're going to have to clean up.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
First, Americans at large (via Joe.My.God.):
A majority of Americans believe that transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday.
The July 26-28 poll suggested that the country largely disagrees with President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that he will ban transgender personnel from the armed forces.
When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement, “Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.” Twenty-seven percent said they should not while the rest answered “don’t know.”
From a group of Senators. From WaPo via Joe.My.God.:
A bloc of 45 U.S. senators is asking the Pentagon not to discharge any transgender service members until the Defense Department completes an ongoing review of whether they should be able to continue serving in uniform. The letter holds no legal sway over the Pentagon and lawmakers cannot stop President Trump from carrying out his stated intention to ban transgender people from serving in uniform, but the letter puts almost half of the U.S. Senate on record as opposing the surprise announcement.
And a group of state attorneys general, who want Congress to cut Trump off at the knees (not that that will ever happen):
The top legal officers in 18 states and the District of Columbia have asked Congress to pass legislation prohibiting discrimination against transgender service members.
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin sent the letter dated Thursday in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement, via Twitter a day earlier, that he would ban transgender people in the military.
The letter asks the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to reaffirm in legislation that transgender people may not be banned from serving in the military. It urges lawmakers to include transgender protections in the National Defense Authorization Act. Eighteen other attorneys general, who like Chin are all Democrats, also signed the document.
(Sidebar: Yes, Lisa Madigan, Illinois' AG, signed. And both of Illinois' senators signed the letter from Kirsten Gillibrand noted above. Just so you know.)
And it looks like Trump may have made some positions in his administration harder to fill:
A former executive director of the Delaware Republican party has notified the Dept. of Homeland Security that he is withdrawing his name from consideration for a senior position in direct response to President Trump's announced ban on military service members who are transgender. John Fluharty had been interviewing to be DHS's assistant secretary of partnership and engagement.
“As I mentioned in our conversation, I am a strong advocate for diversity, both in the Republican Party and in government,” Fluharty wrote in an email to DHS, as Politico reports. “The President’s announcement this morning — that he will ban all of those who identify as transgender from military service — runs counter to my deeply held beliefs, and it would be impossible for me to commit to serving the Administration knowing that I would be working against those values.”
And just a note, in case I haven't mentioned it before: you don't get support from your generals if you don't keep them in the loop:
Top military leaders, including Joint Chiefs chair, didn't know ban on transgender service members was coming https://t.co/50bZm3lFBD pic.twitter.com/JgsgftKG0G— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 27, 2017
Late Thursday morning Reuters broke a story quoting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said in a memo that there will be no changes to U.S. policy on transgender service members until he receives explicit direction from the Commander-in-Chief.
Also late Thursday morning, USA TODAY reported Vice Admiral Robert Burke, the Chief of Naval Personnel, sent an email stating transgender service members can continue on as usual, at least for now.
USA TODAY obtained the email and reports the "Navy will not immediately discharge transgender sailors and will continue to provide them with medical treatment despite the tweets fired off by President Trump on Wednesday."
Way to go, Donnie.
Footnote: Interesting article in Air Force Times about some of the serving transgender personnel. Worth reading.
No group has been as blindly loyal to President Trump as Christian conservatives. They have not let religion or values get in the way of their support. Consider the “Access Hollywood” tape, the attack on a Gold Star family, a mass of inexplicable ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials (and the president’s open invitation to Russia to continue hacking), the firing of the FBI director, the humiliation of evangelical-favorite Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the politicization of the Boy Scouts, the threats to the special counsel and now an interview with Trump’s out-of-control, potty-mouthed communications director. What about Trump, exactly, reflects their values? (Taking Medicaid away from millions and separating families to deport law-abiding immigrants?) The Trump administration is a clown show — but it’s the evangelicals who supplied the tent, the red noses and the floppy shoes. Each day presents a new insult to the office of the presidency and a repudiation of civilized behavior.
She goes on from there. And the comments are scathing. Read it.