"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"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

Monday, April 24, 2017

He Thought He Was Being Funny

A follow up to this story: AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III on the blowback from his "island in the Pacific" comment:

“I think that was a perfectly correct statement,” Sessions defended his remarks on MSNBC Friday, and now, amidst laughter, he dismissed them entirely as “nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”

Apparently Sessions thinks the idea of an independent, co-equal judiciary is a joke.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Sentiments, Exactly


*sigh*

Via Balloon Juice.

What's New at Green Man Review

Mostly books and music, but interesting, nevertheless. Hit the link for goodies.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

March for Science, Earth Day, 2017

Everybody's getting into the act:

In honor of Earth Day and the March for Science, the Monterey Bay Aquarium held it's own mini Science March with several of its African penguins.

The aquarium dubbed its livestream the "March of the Penguins for Science," and it included their African penguins taking an "enrichment walk" through the Kelp Forest gallery.

Video at the link.

via Joe.My.God.

Friday, April 21, 2017

An Island in the Pacific

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III preparing to perjure himself before the Senate
I've made reference before to the notion that Trump's attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, seems stuck in the 1950s. He just nailed it, discussing Trump's disastrous immigration order:

"We've got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they've been hostile to the order," Sessions said. "We won a case in Virginia recently that was a nicely-written order that just demolished, I thought, all the arguments that some of the other people have been making. We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."
Emphasis added.

The judge "sitting on an island in the Pacific" is Judge Derrick Watson, of the U.S. District Court of Hawaii; the island is Oahu.

Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959.

The breathtaking ignorance is deliberate, don't doubt it for a minute. The message, from this lifelong advocate of states' rights now that he's part of the federal apparatus is simply another attack on the judiciary, following in the footsteps of The Hairpiece.

Remember, this is a man who believes, from the bottom of his heart, that if you're accused of something, you must be guilty. He also believes, apparently, that the president gets to make the law, without challenge.

Which is just another demonstration of something I've maintained for a while now: not only do Republicans not believe in our foundational principles, they're vehemently opposed to them. If you doubt that:

In the interview on Tuesday, Sessions also added that judges shouldn't "psychoanalyze" Trump when he was asked about potential judges Trump would appoint.

"I think our President, having seen some of these really weird interpretations of the executive orders that he's put out, I think he's more understanding now that we need judges who follow the law, not make law," Sessions said.

"The judges don't get to psychoanalyze the President to see if the order he issues is lawful. It's either lawful or it's not. I think that it will be real important for America to have judges in the model of Judge (Neil) Gorsuch and (the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia, people who serve under the law, under the Constitution, not above it, and they are faithful to the law. They honor it and don't try to remake it as they'd like it to be."

This has become standard right-wing cant for any court decision they don't like. Remember the cries of "lawless" when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell? Aside from the obvious oxymoron, it's another way of avoiding the substance of the decision, especially when it rests on constitutional guarantees of individual rights. (And contrary to Sessions' assertion, legislative intent has always been an important factor in weighing the validity of laws.)

Via Digby, who notes:

He is an authoritarian monster, the worst of all possible world, the scariest member of the scariest administration in American history.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Giggle du Jour

Note the chyron:



Via Balloon Juice

Culture Break: Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto in F Major Opus 6 No. 2

I have an album of Corelli concerti grossi that's one of my favorite morning things. This particular piece isn't on it, although there are other works from Opus 6. At any rate, it's a nice break from the normal noise:


Strangely enough, I've not reviewed any Corelli, except as a "B side" to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Reefer Madness

Lord love a duck:

Two days after downplaying the role of marijuana in the nation's drug war, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly changed course Tuesday, calling it a "potentially dangerous gateway drug" and saying his agency would continue to arrest and investigate those who traded in it in violation of federal law.

"Let me be clear about marijuana: It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs," he said in his first major speech since being sworn in. "Its use and possession is against federal law and until that law is changed by the United States Congress, we at DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books."

Forget the science that says otherwise: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has spoken:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decried pot use and has advocated a crackdown. In a speech last month, Sessions said marijuana was only "slightly less awful" than heroin, and he declared at a Senate hearing last year that "good people don't smoke marijuana."

Kelly's remarks Tuesday seemed to be an effort to bring his position on marijuana more in keeping with Sessions', two days after he took a decidedly softer line. On Sunday, Kelly had said marijuana was "not a factor" in the war on drugs, and that the search for solutions to the drug problem in the U.S. should focus on addictive drugs and not "arresting a lot of users."

Sessions likes putting lots of people in jail, especially if they're not white. Makes him look really butch. He thinks. I guess Kelly got the word: pot is an existential threat.

You think someone's stuck in the 1950s?

(I wonder where all those states' rights advocates are hiding on this.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Today's Must-Watch

several of the Superbowl winning New England Patriots are declining an invitation to the White House.

Several members of the 2016-2017 NFL Champion New England Patriots will boycott their team’s customary trip to the White House later this year. DT Alan Branch, DE Chris Long, RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Martellus Bennett and LB Dont’a Hightower all decided to skip the opportunity to meet with President Trump.

And there's a video. Watch it -- it's a good one:


Monday, April 17, 2017

Small People in High Office

I found this to be quite telling:



'Nuff said?

Another WTF? Moment

Words fail me:

A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather Paul Kenyon made the error on a visa waiver form.

On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.

He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.

I can't help but wonder what genius thought of putting that question on the form to begin with. Do you suppose they thought an actual terrorist is going to check "yes"?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

It's Sunday

And you know that that means -- new stuff at GMR. A special edition today, on "classical" music. Note the byline.

Enjoy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Antidote: Easters Past

For sheer, everyday incompetence, nothing can beat the Trump regime. (I refuse to call it an "admimistration.") From Digby:

Trump's well oiled machine is supposed to make the government run like a business.

And they can't even get the easter egg roll together:

The only thing more ridiculous than the White House Easter Egg Roll is the inability to plan a White House Easter Egg Roll. But as with health care, nobody in the Trump administration knew it could be so complicated to plan this festive spring event that has been going off relatively hitch-free since the Hayes administration. For someone who promised to never allow the blasphemous tidings “happy holidays” to emerge from our irreligious lips again, President Trump is remarkably lax about this Christian-lite rite.

Makes you yearn for the good old days -- like, last year:


Can you imagine Trump doing something like that?

And as for the First Lady:


There's just no comparison. I'm reminded of a poem by Constantine Cavafy, "Waiting for the Barbarians" -- except that the barbarians are here and have taken over.




Today in Disgusting People

This speaks for itself:



Via Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's Wrong With Congress (Updated)

This is mostly a story about another Republican congresscritter dodging a face-to-face with constituents, but this really struck me:

In an April 10 town hall, Mullin engaged in another difficult meeting. His constituents repeatedly told him that he worked for them as a public servant but Mullin believes it is a service he provides to the constituents.

“One, you say you pay for me to do this, that’s bull crap, I pay for myself to do this,” Mullin claimed. “This is a service.”

Do you think that maybe too many of our representatives think they're doing us a favor by being in office? Here's the video of that exchange.

I found an embeddable version of the video:


Update: The attitude doesn't seem to be limited to the House. Some reactions to a town hall with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ):







This kind of bald-faced -- I honestly don't know what to call it: is Flake really that clueless? Or is he just a liar?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Trump White House: How It Works

This, I think, is symptomatic:

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said that he was able to convince Trump to slash the Appalachian Regional Commission and similar programs in his proposed budget because he had no idea what the program did.

“My guess is he probably didn’t know what the Appalachian Regional Commission did,” Mulvaney said of Trump. “I was able to convince him, ‘Mr. President, this is not an efficient use of the taxpayer dollars. This is not the best way to help the people in West Virginia.’ He goes, ‘Okay, that’s great. Is there a way to get those folks the money in a more efficient way?’ And the answer is yes. And that’s what’s we’re going focus on doing.”

Harwood then asked Mulvaney if Trump was aware that his budget cuts might hurt his own voters — and Mulvaney responded that the best way to help all voters was to spur higher economic growth.

“I think what the president will tell you is, ‘The best thing I can do for those folks, whether or not they voted for me, is to figure out a way to get 3.5 percent economic growth,'” he said.

That's it -- combine a president who has no idea what he's doing with a budget director who seems to believe his own bullshit, and you get another attempt to spur economic growth by taking money out of the economy. And that worked so well last time. (Remember the Republican Great Recession of 2008-2009? Yeah, that one.)

Head, Meet Brick Wall

They just keep trying:

A bill filed Tuesday by four N.C. House Republicans would direct state government to defy a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and restore the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage.

House Bill 780 is titled “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,” and is sponsored by some of the House’s most conservative legislators. They frequently file bills that don’t get a hearing because House GOP leaders don’t support the proposals.

The bill says that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country “is null and void in the State of North Carolina.” The sponsors argue in the bill language that it’s “clear that laws concerning marriage are for each state to establish and maintain severally and independently.”

The bill quotes the Christian Bible and says the ruling “exceeds the authority of the court relative to the decree of Almighty God that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24, ESV) and abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”

The bill would order state government to return to the constitutional amendment known as Amendment One, which was approved in a 2012 voter referendum. It also says that same-sex marriages performed in other states wouldn’t be recognized in North Carolina.

The comments at the article are not kind.

This is nothing more than posturing, unless these sponsors are too stupid to walk and breathe at the same time. There's this little thing called "The Supremacy Clause":

Article VI, Clause 2:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing [sic] in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Catching Up: What's New at Green Man Review

Pretty interesting mix of things this week. You know what to do.

Today's Must-Read: The Perennial Target (Update)

Trump wants to do away with Social Security. He's not coming right out and saying it, but he's setting it up, if his "tax reform" proposals, sketchy as they are, are any indication. Michael Hiltzik lays it out:

President Trump’s tax reform agenda is in trouble. That’s not news, but one proposal that his team has floated as a way, ostensibly, to cut taxes on the middle class is. According to the Associated Press, they’re toying with the idea of eliminating the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and part of Medicare, or cutting it drastically.

This is an absolutely terrible idea, partially because it smells like a back-door way of cutting Social Security benefits. It needs to be nipped in the bud.

“This proposal is a Trojan horse,” the veteran Social Security advocate Nancy J. Altman told me. “It appears to be a gift in the form of middle-class tax relief, but would, if enacted, lead to the destruction of working Americans' fundamental economic security.”

To understand why, one needs to examine the history and mechanics of Social Security, something the Trump team hasn’t tried or doesn’t care to do. But we can.

And he does. Read the whole thing. Via Karoli Kuns at Crooks and Liars, who is worth a read as well.

Update: Digby has more on this.


Why Did This Take So Long?

In fact, why does it have to happen at all?

What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.

In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.

On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance and puts an end to practices meant to embarrass children. It applies to public, private and religious schools that receive federal subsidies for students’ breakfasts and lunches.

This is the richest country the world has ever seen, and yet we allow things like throwing kids' lunches in the garbage if they can't pay -- which is simply and literally unbelievable -- and military veterans living on the streets -- or, for that matter, anyone living on the streets.

I'm glad New Mexico has taken this step, but other states need to follow suit asap -- maybe some of those states with "Christians" in control of the legislatures could lead the way, like it says in Matthew 25:35-40.

Via Crooks and Liars.

Footnote: Yeah, I've been out of commission for a few days. I'll spend today catching up.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Culture Break: Maurice Ravel: Bolero

In a rather informal setting:


And what else is there to say?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Shell Game du Jour



So, NCAA buys into the scam.

Story here.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

What's New at Green Man Review

Yep -- it's that time of the week again, and there's more good stuff at GMR, so pop on over and take a look. And do keep an eye on the introductory narratives -- sometimes there are links to reviews of really nifty things there.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Remind You of Someone?

Offered without comment:



Via Balloon Juice.

Today in Disgusting People

Another cafeteria "Christian":

Republican U.S. Congressman Jodey Arrington of Texas this week decided a House hearing debating the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was the perfect time to pick and choose a Bible verse to deny the poor food stamps.

After listening to several anti-hunger experts testify on the crisis of food insecurity across the country, including one from a state food bank, a human services agency, and a budget and policy think tank, Rep. Arrington announced he would take five minutes to deliver his own remarks.

"The Scripture tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3-10, he says, 'For even when we were with you we gave you this rule: If a man will not work he shall not eat.' And then he goes on to say, 'We hear that some among you are idle,'" the Texas Congressman preached.

It's called "cherry-picking" and it crops up frequently among evangelicals, especially those who are in it for the money.

Aside from the sheer inappropriateness of using the Christian Bible to support a position on legislation, as I recall, Thessalonians was Paul, not Jesus -- and in fact, Paul never met Jesus and never heard him preach first-hand. Paul was also a piece of work himself: he's the one who lived with a courtesan for a number of years, had a son with her, then left her to marry a rich widow -- and then started preaching against sex.

There's also the fact that he's full of bull-pucky: as the article points out, a minority of those needing food assistance are not working although able: most are children, the elderly, handicapped -- and the working poor. And I have to wonder how many of those able to work can't find jobs because of Republican economic policies -- like giving the "job creators" huge tax breaks so they can create jobs in Mexico, China, Vietnam. . . .

Congressman Arrington might do well to consider the words of the Christ he claims to follow:

From Matthew 25:

41 Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;

42 for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink;

43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

45 “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’

46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

And we have a First Runner-Up:

Former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill, has celebrated a “deal” to repeal the law as a loss for the LGBT+ community. . . .

But former Governor McCrory, who signed the bill last year, and one of its most vocal supporters, has now spoken out to celebrate the “deal”.

Taking aim at the Human Rights Campaign, which described the deal to repeal the bill as a “disaster”, McCrory said: “The good news is this: the HRC lost the battle… With their resources and power and money, and their trying to get some other corporations to help support them in the battle…[The] fact of the matter is, they did not get a full repeal of HB2.”

Aside from being vicious and petty, McCrory seems to be fairly stupid: you're not supposed to admit things like that, you're supposed to pretend that the new bill repealed HB2 -- which it didn't.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I suppose it had to happen:

Connecticut lawmakers are considering whether the state should become the first in the country to allow police to use drones outfitted with deadly weapons.

The proposal was immediately met with concern by civil rights and liberties advocates.

The state legislature’s Judiciary Committee approved the bill Wednesday and sent it to the House of Representatives. It would ban the use of weaponized drones but exempt police. The state Police Officer Standards and Training Council would have to approve new rules and train officers before they could use weaponized drones.

Because the police in this country always follow procedures and are superbly trained.

Via Joe.My.God.