"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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Well, Kiss America Good-Bye

He couldn't have waited six months?

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, giving President Trump and Senate Republicans an opportunity to create a solidly conservative court that could last for decades. Kennedy’s long-rumored decision to step down July 31 will touch off a titanic battle between conservatives and liberals in the nation’s capital, on the airwaves, and in states represented by key senators whose votes will be needed to confirm his successor.

Mitch McConnell, who has no integrity at all, will try to rush through a neo-fascist nominee as quickly as possible, whining about "obstructionist Democrats" if anyone objects.

All the anti-American "Christians" are licking their chops at the prospect of overturning Roe and Obergefell.

It was a nice country while it lasted.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Culture Break: Vinyl Underground: Kashmir

Because I published yesterday's entry instead of scheduling it for today, you get a freebie. Another version of LZ's iconic song by a group I know nothing about. It's a pretty good version, though.

Snowflake du Jour

But of course:

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders is expected to receive Secret Service protection as soon as Wednesday, two sources familiar with the decision tell CNN, but they did not specify how long it will last.

The Secret Service declined to comment, telling CNN: "For operational security purposes the Secret Service does not comment on its protective operations."

The news comes days after Sanders was asked to leave a small Lexington, Virginia, restaurant because of her role with the Trump administration, a move that has since sparked a national conversation on civility and public service in the age of Trump.

Here's the best part:

"I was asked to leave because I worked for President Trump," she said, adding, "We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm, and this goes for all people regardless of politics."

From a woman whose boss has called for journalists (among others) to be physically attacked, and who has herself called reporters stupid. Hypocrisy, thy name is Legion.

Via Joe.My.God.

And from commenter Doug105 at that post:


A reply to that from commenter Paul in Leesburg says that rather than "campaign rallies" they should be called "Nuremberg-style rallies." Works for me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Culture Break: Led Zeppelin: Kashmir

This one just popped into my head (which tends to happen when you've been listening to music since you could discern sounds). I don't think I need to say anything about it, except that it was released over forty years ago.

Monday, June 25, 2018

I Survived Pride

It didn't take much doing -- I skipped the Parade: I'm not one for crowds at the best of times, and I'm still recovering from the attack of whatever attacked me last weekend, so I just went to the Park and read for a while. Because of geography (read: bus reroutes around the Parade and the resultant chaotic traffic), it took me two hours to get there and three hours to get home. It normally takes about 45 minutes.

So, after a day of kids wearing rainbows and being out and proud, I get up this morning to check the news and it's back to Donald Trump being a genocidal asshole who wants to repeal the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.

I'd rather have rainbows.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What's New at Green Man Review

It's the first edition of the summer, and it's jam-packed with goodies:

Ian Macdonald‘s King of Morning, Queen Of Day, ‘Kashmir’ by Page and Plant, Beef jerky, Baseball films, A Spanish Christmas candy, A Dragon honours Ursula Le Guin and other matters as well

There's more, of course, so tool on over and enjoy.

Review: Chris Butler and Sam Fell: ParaNorman

Another from the sadly defunct Epinions. I also did this one at GMR.

Be who you are.

I've seen ParaNorman twice -- the Eternal Child that lurks not very far under the surface demanded it. And I loved it as much the second time as the first. (My first viewing was motivated by a trailer, which was appealing, and a bit of controversy, about which more later.)

Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives in a small Massachusetts town notable for its witch trials. Well, one witch trial, that of Agatha Prenderghast (Jodelle Ferland), a young girl who was hanged in 1712 for the crime of witchcraft -- she could talk to the dead. Before she died, however, she cursed her accusers: they will emerge from their graves every year and will never, ever be completely free to pass on.

Norman has inherited the family gift (he's a Prenderghast on his mother's side). His uncle (John Goodman), on his deathbed -- well, actually a little past that point -- impresses on Norman that he has to be the one to avert the curse this year, by reading from a book over the witch's grave before the sun sets. That's right -- the book clutched in Uncle Prenderghast's cold, dead hands. Norman does his best, but it turns out he's got the wrong graves -- he's reading to the accusers, who start to emerge as the sun vanishes below the horizon. Norman, who manages to accumulate a following -- his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), his friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Neil's big brother Mitch (Casey Affleck), and the school bully, Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) -- heads off to find the witch's grave. The rest is barely controlled chaos.

OK -- the story is directed at kids, and the "lesson" -- be who you are, and accept others for who they are -- is stated quite baldly a couple of times. It's also the main motivating force for the story, which adds a level of meaning to the whole thing. It's also a tight, action-packed story with a lot of humor and a fair amount of pathos built in.

I'll make a guess, though, that some of the humor is going to be over the head of your basic eight- or nine-year-old. Case in point: The Sheriff (Tempesst Bledsoe) to one of the townspeople: "You can't shoot at civilians -- that's for the police to do." There are lots of those, as well as a few references to other "scary movies" -- the crowd scene in front of the Old Town Hall, complete with pitchforks and torches, is very funny.

It wouldn’t be one of my reviews of animation if I didn't talk about the actors. They're superb -- the naturalism in the dialogue is fully in line with the naturalism of the animation. Norman is a small boy, and Courtney is the archetypal big sister, Mitch the dumb jock, and on down the line. Yes, they are playing stereotypes, but they're taking it a few steps beyond that.

About the animation: I'll admit I've tended to avoid stop-motion in the past, probably because of my memories of clunky, jerky examples that I've seen way back when. This is flawless, or nearly so. It's not only in the movements of the figures, but in the way the animators have captured fleeting facial expressions and small gestures. And the CGI effects fit in almost perfectly.

About that "controversy": to put it baldly, one of the characters is gay, but you don't find out until the end, and it's a throw-away. Apparently, this was too much for one "conservative" commentator, who complained that you don't discover the character is gay until you've developed an affinity for him.

Apparently, the point of the film was over his head.

It's rated PG, runs 92 minutes, and is definitely a 5 star effort.

(Focus Features, Laika Entertainment, 2012)

Antidote: Vive la Resistance!

Yes, one person can make a difference -- in this case, a flight attendant who will no longer be complicit in Trump's progroms against immigrant children:

For the past 29 years I have been a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline. Several weeks ago, I worked two flights (one to San Antonio and the other to McAllen) which proved to be two of the most disturbing flights I've ever experienced in my career.

On board these particular flights were ICE agents and migrant children (approximately four to eleven years old) who had been separated from their families and were being flown to a "relocation" site.

Since working the two flights, the images of those helpless children have burned into my psyche. The little children whose faces were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion left me somewhat traumatized as it occurred to me a few weeks later that I might as well have been a collaborator in their transport.

I can't help but think about their journey to their makeshift "homes" which, historically speaking reminds one of another group of people who were forced out of their homes and relocated to ghettos.

He didn't do it quietly.

Hunt Palmquist’s statement may very well have led to today’s historical decision within the airline industry.

On Wednesday, individual public statements, major airline carriers including American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest told the Trump Administration and federal government that they would not take part in the cruel and abhorrent Trump immigration policies that separated migrant children from their families. The airlines let Trump, his administration and his complicit Republican Congress members know that the government would no longer be allowed to use planes by these airlines to commit violations of human rights.

Guess ICE is going to have to go back to box cars.

Image du Jour: Strong Borders

I don't really need to comment on it, but it's worth reading Digby's post:


Joe Arpaio, where are you?

I'm wondering again if New Zealand is far enough away.

Just What We Needed -- Another Arms Race

And you don't think that will be the end result of this idea?

President Trump’s surprise decision to order the creation of a U.S. “Space Force” came because he was frustrated with Pentagon officials for not taking up his initial suggestion, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Trump directed the Defense Department on Monday to create the country’s sixth military service branch, a move that shocked Pentagon officials and lawmakers.

People familiar with the decision told the Journal that Trump often throws out ideas in public but then expects his aides and Cabinet officials to create follow-through plans.

Trump gets frustrated and make demands when he feels like his appointees haven’t jumped into action, the newspaper reported.

“He doesn’t forget, and ultimately erupts when he feels slighted,” a former high-level industry and government official said.

And he very easily feels slighted.

So we're going to wind up spending a lot of money and throwing the Pentagon into further chaos because Fearless Leader wants to play space cowboy. And of course, the Russians and Chinese and Europeans will have to follow suit, because, thanks to The Donald, they're all unfriendly powers now and our developing a space force is a threat to their national security. And we have to have a space force because you can't bully someone without something to back it up.

Via Digby.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's Not Incompetence (Update)

It's malevolence. Tristero has an interesting post at Hullabaloo about the fact that there never was a plan for reuniting separated families.

The Trump administration never had a plan to re-unite children ripped from their mothers. And the media has gone out of its way to publicize that lack of a plan and to blame it on Trump's incompetence. The emphasis on incompetence obscures the fact that this lack of planning was intentional. . . .

Another way to say this is that the thugs who make up the Trump administration are not merely logistically incompetent. They are morally incompetent as well. They have not a shred of human decency.

I guess in a way it's somewhat comforting to say that Trump and his thugs are incompetent -- sort of "Keystone Kops Run the Country". That way we don't have to worry so much. The fact of the matter is that they're not incompetent -- they're very good at what they're doing, which is to remake the US into a tin-pot dictatorship. The fact that they have no humanity at all just makes it easier for them.

A case in point:

And these are not — like it or not, these aren’t our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. And these are not — like it or not, these aren’t our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.

That's Brian Kilmeade on Fox and Friends, Trump's biggest cheerleaders. And don't think the choice of states to mention wasn't deliberate.

They're a bunch of psychopaths.

Update: Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice has a post on Trump honoring the "Angel Families":

She included this, which as far as I'm concerned is not much of a stretch: We know Trump is a racist, his base is racist, and his strongest support is among white supremacists and Nazis.

I don't take this last thing as a goal in itself -- it's a tactic. The goal is to stay in power for life.

Today from Over the Edge

Out of touch for a couple of days, but it seems nothing has changed much -- Trump is still disgusting and his followers are just as bad.

But entertaining. First, Alex Jones:

The Pentagon developed a Atrazine-type spray that they would spray. They tested it actually in Iraq. That’s classified but it was — it got leaked. You can pull it up. Gay bomb! They always take like a clip of me going gay bomb, baby! And then I show BBC, but they cut the BBC, and it’s basically a chemical cocktail, not just of Atrazine. They add some other chemicals. It’s classified. But the word is, it’s like, what’s ecstasy’s compound? I forgot. MDMA!

“They mix that with Atrazine and stuff. And then they spray that on you and you’ll start having sex with a fire hydrant. I mean, the point is, is that sex is all based not even on visual, men it’s mainly — but it’s smells with women particularly. But they can flip that on. It’s like perfume. You know, everybody knows about that? Well, they’ve got weaponized perfumes, basically that will make men attracted to other men and they want you to do that so you don’t have kids.


And another deplorable, Rick Wiles:

When they slaughter a little baby in a Planned Parenthood baby butcher shop, where does that baby’s blood go? Where does the baby’s brains and guts go? I’ll tell you where it goes. It goes down the drain, into the sewer system and the blood of those babies is running through your town’s sewer, under your street. The sewage pipes in your city – carrying the blood, the guts, the brains, the tissue of all the babies murdered in your city today. It’s going right into your city’s sewer system. You’re actually drinking the babies’ blood, being recycled and going right back into the city’s water supply. Cannibalism.

Of course, if Wiles' hero has his way, we'll be drinking raw sewage, so there might be a word of truth here. Except for all of it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Culture Break: Oysterband & June Tabor: Mississippi Summer

This has always been one of my favorite Oysterband songs, and it just happened to pop up in the playlist while I was doing some posting here, so I thought I'd share.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

It's Sunday Again

And that means goodies at GreenMan Review:

family friendly rootsy music, a look at queer comics, offbeat Columbian music, Peanut butter cups, Folkmanis’ Narwhal puppet, ‘City Of New Orleans’ and other stories

And that's just the start. Scoot on over and enjoy.

Review: Amoeba: Watchful

Another one that no longer exists at Epinions or any successor site. From my New Age days.

Amoeba is a collaboration between Robert Rich and Rick Davies. Rich considers it his “rock band,” by all accounts. Although I’ve been interested in Rich’s music for a number of years, Watchful is my first exposure to their combined talents. This is also the first CD I’ve reviewed that I simply cannot interpret as one extended work: the selections are, indubitably, separate songs.

Many of the concerns I recognize from Rich’s solo work are apparent in Watchful. Perhaps the best summation is that the album is somewhere between “easy listening” and “hard-core esoteric.” Robert Rich began his musical career early, building his own synthesizers by the time he was thirteen, and producing “sleep concerts” (for which the audience brought sleeping bags and prepared to spend the night) in Golden Gate Park while he was a psychology student at Stanford. His music then was based heavily on psychoacoustics and made use of natural body cycles (including the 24-hour diurnal cycle to which we are all subject). He also investigated drones (and put out an album titled Drones and Trances) and gradually, by the time of Rainforest, moved into more recognizable sound patterns, many of which inhabit Watchful, which was released in 1997. Rick Davies is a guitarist, bassist, and composer who was a founding member of Psycho Hamster, described as a “psychedelic brain-damage band,” and Killer Donuts. He has worked with Rich sporadically since 1979.

The songs have an ethereal quality, as much due to Rich’s vocals as to the sometimes insubstantial quality of the instruments. His voice, a light, throaty tenor, is ideal for this music: provided with a slight resonance, it works not so much to provide information as to reinforce the mood and stroke our curiosity – it really doesn’t matter that most of the time, you can’t understand the words. Pauses are as important as sounds, and quite often there are elements that are felt rather than actually heard. The shape of each song, the dialogues between elements, the barely heard passages that somehow grab our attention and compel listening, are what finally engage the listener. This is music that offers nods in many directions, and becomes quite absorbing in its own right as an organic synthesis of Rich’s many explorations.

“Inside” begins with a strong “world beat” rhythm, a syncopated, tropical-sounding substrate that provides a solid base for the simple but elegant guitars and Rich’s habitually murky vocals. “Skin” provides a strong contrast, with a long, spare cello line that displays a great deal of subtlety. “Origami” opens with a somewhat Pinteresque guitar solo (in which the pauses are at least as important as the notes) and a cryptic woodwind that could be a flute or oboe making deft appearances. The whole piece is rather elliptical and quite fascinating. “Footless” is the first piece on the album for which I immediately thought “song.” It delivers some superb cello work by Hans Christian, as well as subtle, understated drums from Don Swanson, and Rich’s somewhat opaque vocals (read “unintelligible,” which is not to be taken as a criticism). “Ignoring Gravity” is a relaxed, low-key piece featuring intricate rhythms and the introduction of sounds (one is almost impelled to identify them as “nature sounds” as in much New Age music, but they are not) as accents that work to define what might otherwise be a completely formless song. “Water Vapor” is indeed quite vaporous and quite brief.

“Desolation” offers a new pattern, opening with a sequence that perhaps offers a nod to Edgar Varèse, perhaps to the soundtrack from Forbidden Planet, real science-fiction music with the requisite blurps and beeps that segues into an acoustic guitar solo that is again spare and quite evocative. “Big Clouds” makes use of some of Rich’s lessons from “Drones” as an almost subliminal continuo to a synthesized almost-melody. “Saragossa” breaks that mood with a heavily syncopated percussion overlaid with a long continuo line that offers spaces for a lively little flute to wander through. The key word for “Any Other Sky” is mellow, in spite of the energetic rhythms, a function of Rich’s understated vocals. “Watchful Eyes” once again uses a continuo that is more inferred than heard under a dialogue between guitar and piano that recalls in pacing and shape some of Harold Budd’s more exciting improvisations.

I like Robert Rich’s music. I have always like Robert Rich’s music, since I first ran across him in a collaboration with Steve Roach. He has investigated many ideas and incorporated many influences in an intelligent and intellectually challenging synthesis that is at the same time very seductive and rewarding. Part of the reward is that this is music for active listening or for just zoning out – either way, you get something out of it.

For information and sound samples, including “Footless” and “Saragossa,” check www.amoeba.com.

(Lektronic Soundscapes, 1997)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Today in Disgusting People, Part II

Tony Perkins, of course, who else? Trying to justify Trump's immoral and illegal policy of separating families seeking asylum. Here's his press release, with, as might be expected, one lie after another. (Well, it's Tony Perkins, after all.)

Now that President Trump’s scored big points for his historic meeting with Kim Jong Un, his opponents are desperate to change the subject. Anxious to turn the country’s attention away from the administration’s diplomatic success, they’ve returned to an issue that the Congress has repeatedly failed to resolve — immigration.

Yesterday’s Washington Post got the ball rolling with an inside look at one of the 100 shelters where children, whose parents were arrested for entering America illegally, are housed. The article couldn’t help but tug on heartstrings, since almost 1,500 boys are living in a warehouse-sized summer camp, separated from their parents when they crossed the border illegally. What was once a Walmart super center is now full of classrooms, medical rooms, basketball courts, and even a pool hall.

Juan Sanchez, who manages the nonprofit that’s housing the kids, says that the circumstances are difficult, especially for kids struggling to adapt, but promises, “We’re trying to do the best that we can taking care of these children. Our goal ultimately is to reunite kids with their families,” he said. “We’re not a detention center. What we operate are shelters that take care of kids. It’s a big, big difference.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the White House’s position on Wednesday, telling a gathering, “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.” Critics quickly attacked the AG’s comments — with particularly harsh criticism from those on the Far Left, many of whom don’t appreciate scriptural references unless it can be twisted to justify their agenda.

Thursday, reporters took out their frustration on Press Secretary Sarah Sanders press conference, asking how the administration could possibly defend a policy that prosecutes adults for crossing the border illegally. Sanders stood her ground. “…[It’s] very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” she said. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.” And, she went on, if you’re looking for someone to blame for this situation, try Democrats.

Let’s also consider the precedent it would create if we didn’t enforce the law. Are liberals suggesting that we shouldn’t incarcerate anyone who has kids? Are children the new get-out-of-jail-free card? As Sessions said, “If you bring a child, it is still an unlawful act. You don’t get immunity if you bring a child with you. We cannot have open borders for adults with children.”

Just a couple of comments:

Trump's "diplomatic success" with North Korea: You mean, the one where he gave Kim Jong-Un everything he wanted and got nothing?

"Entering the country illegally": I suppose, now the Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has made it illegal to enter the country if you're brown, that's correct. However, in the real world, it's bullshit. (And you notice, he doesn't mention the cages made of mesh fencing.)

As for Sessions and his appeal to Romans, maybe he should check out Isaiah, specifically verse 10:

1Woe to those who enact unjust statutes and issue oppressive decrees, 2to deprive the poor of fair treatment and withhold justice from the oppressed of My people, to make widows their spoil and plunder the fatherless.…

Of course, there's a lot more in the Bible about those who make unjust laws, none of it positive.

The last paragraph is so over the top I can't think where to start.

Gah! I need to wash my brain out with bleach.

Today in Disgusting People

I touched on this yesterday, but I just ran across this post by Digby on Sarah Huckabee Sanders' press briefing on Thursday. You have to read the whole thing to get the full impact of what a bitch she is:

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Sanders to explain Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ comments earlier in the day about how the White House’s family separation policy is consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

Sanders said she couldn’t speak to Sessions’ specific comments, but added, “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law.”

But family separation is not a law. It is a policy that the Trump administration implemented in April and could end at any time.

When Acosta pointed this out to Sanders, she replied by calling him stupid.

“I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess,” she said. “Please don’t take my words out of context, but the separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close.”

Add "unprofessional" to the mix.

As the article points out, separating families of people seeking asylum is not the law and the Democrats have nothing to do with it: it is Trump's policy, from the get-go. She's a liar, just like her boss. (t's worth noting, as well, that Acosta seems to very high on the Trump regime's shit list, probably because he's doing his job.)

And I'm sure there's something in the Bible that says you're not required to obey unjust and immoral laws.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Finally

I am not, after all, going to do a major post on the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. You've already got my bottom line on it, so this is just by way of providing a little detail.

The big issue is the Court's interpretation of comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. From Towleroad, a take on that issue that echoes my own:

. . . the Court found that statements from Commissioners sitting on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission evidenced so much anti-religious bias that they denied the Christian baker a fair, impartial hearing. But those statements don’t really evidence bias. Here was the most offending statement:

I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others.

In reaction to this, the Court said, “To describe a man’s faith as ‘one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use’ is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere.”

But that is not at all what the Commissioner did. His comment called out using religion as a pretext for discrimination. And besides, the Commissioner is one hundred percent correct. Christianity justified the Holocaust. Religion was used to justify slavery. Religion was used to justify Jim Crow, apartheid, and laws against interracial marriage.

Ed Brayton has a good discussion of the ruling at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, and RawStory provides a history of religious freedom jurisprudence.

Of course, Tony Perkins is claiming a huge victory for "religious freedom" über alles, and Brian Brown is taking credit for the decision. Linda Harvey, who is known to have an adversarial relationship with reality, thinks this decision paves the way for getting rid of sex education in schools. But, as I've noted elsewhere, the actual facts of the ruling are not going to alter the right-wing propaganda one bit.

The justices dodged the bullet, although there would seem to be ample precedent for upholding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's decision, not the least of which is Employment Division v. Smith, which held that there is no religious exemption from otherwise generally applicable laws -- unless, of course, one wants to present the argument that there is no compelling government interest in enforcing equal treatment for all citizens.

Today's Must-Read" "It's In the Bible!"

Both Attorney General (for the time being) Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (you have to include the "III" -- it's part of his heritage) and press secretary (for the time being) and preacher's daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders (your number 1 source for fake news) are appealing to Scripture to justify the Trump regime's unconscionable policy of separating children from parents seeking asylum. Adam L. Silverman as a good post on the whole thing at Balloon Juice -- with lots of quotes from the aforementioned Bible that completely destroy the two holier-than-thous.

As BettyC mentioned earlier, both Attorney General Sessions and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, decided to take their religion out and wave it around in everyone’s faces today. This was done to justify the change in policy that the President, via Attorney General Sessions, made in 2017 that children will be separated from their parents if they either present themselves for asylum or enter the US without documentation. The White House Press Secretary defaulted to the more generic argument that throughout the Bible it is asserted that laws should be followed. The Attorney General decided to (mis)apply Romans 13 to justify the unjustifiable.

(Do click through and read Betty Cracker's post as well -- evidence that this is too much for even the White House press corps.)

A couple of thoughts:

Romans was written by Paul, who never met Jesus and never heard him preach. Paul was also the first in a long line of Grifters for Christ.

Second, Huckabee Sanders, of course, blamed the whole thing on "loopholes that the Democrats refuse to close." And you must take advantage of loopholes, no matter how reprehensible the results, mustn't you?

And as Silverman points out, the Bible is repleted with exhortations to "welcome the stranger." If you want to bring the Bible into it.

Oh, and by the way -- just how is the Christian Bible applicable to American civil law? Anyone?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Today's Must-Read: "I Have a Little List. . . .

They never will be missed." In case you can't quite place it, that's from the Lord High Executioner's song in Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado.

At any rate, this is no surprise at all:

This is a form of Trumpism that takes McCarthyism to a new level. Even Joseph McCarthy wanted to purge the State Department of people he deemed traitorous to the country, not himself.

A senior advisor to the State Department appointed just two months ago has been quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to determine whether they are loyal to President Donald Trump and his political agenda, according to nearly a dozen current and former U.S. officials.

Read it -- it makes McCarthy look like a hobbyist. This isn't supposed to happen here, right?

Tent Cities? (Updated)

Looks like Health and Human Services are taking policy direction from "Sheriff" Joe Arpaio:

The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans.

HHS officials confirmed that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters.

(Via Shakesville.)

Sound familiar?

"Hitler! Hitler!” the prisoners chanted to the TV cameras in protest. It was 4 February 2009. More than 200 Latino men in black-and-white striped uniforms, shackled to each other, were being marched towards an outdoor unit especially for “illegal alien” prisoners in Arizona’s infamous jail, Tent City.

The chants were directed at the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who a few months before had called this outdoor jail close to downtown Phoenix – his own tough-on-crime creation – a “concentration camp” in a speech to political supporters at his local Italian-American club.
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When asked about the comment by the Guardian in July, Arpaio brushed it off as a joke. “But even if it was a concentration camp, what difference does it make? I still survived. I still kept getting re-elected,” he said.

So now HHS is thinking about running concentration camps for kids who've been forcibly separated from their parents.

Even Franklin Graham has had enough (he says):

First of all, I think it’s disgraceful. It’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit. And I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today. We are a country of laws; laws need to be obeyed, no question about that. But the situation that we have today is a result of our lawmakers in Washington over generations ignoring this and I’m hopeful that soon something could be done to fix it.

And somehow, it's not Trump's fault, it's everyone else's -- in spite of the fact that it's a plainly stated policy of the Trump regime. And quite frankly, given Graham's slavish support of Trump from the beginning, I'm calling bullshit. I guess he felt he needed to pretend to be a real Christian for a while.

Note that they're making great play on applying this to those who cross the border illegally, but they're doing it to people who are legally coming into crossing points seeking asylum. Of course, this is about what you'd expect from a bunch of racist neo-Nazis.

(Tom Sullivan has a fairly detailed post on how Trump and Sessions are stacking the deck against people seeking asylum that's worth reading in toto. He also has a post on how these children are being treated. We're in the realm of small people with a little bit of power, it seems.)

I'd ask if this regime can get any more disgusting, but they keep uncovering new bottoms (and I don't mean that in any fun way).

Update: MSNBC aired this story when one of their journalists visited a child detention center in Texas.

This is one of the better facilities, and it's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Culture Break: Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2, "Company"

Another one I have on a Kronos recording but couldn't find a live performance on video. Glass' quartets are somewhat amazing, as you can see from this one. I'm a long-time fan of chamber music -- somehow, it seems to give you a more immediate look at the composer's thinking.

At any rate, this is an excellent version by the ReDo String Quartet:

Don't ask me for more information on ReDo -- all I could find was a rather bizarre blog in several, mostly eastern European languages.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

I Didn't See That Coming

I don't think of the Field Museum of Natural History as a supporter of gay rights. I don't think of it as being anti-gay, just non-political. However, I think I mentioned that the member stickers you get when you check in are printed in a rainbow instead of the usual dark blue for this month. I also noticed, on my last trip, that they're flying a rainbow flag on the north side of the building. And it so happens that they're taking their show to Boys' Town, with a special event at Sidetracks, one of the more popular bars on the strip, hosted by the Museum's LGBTQ affinity group, Outfielders.

Who knew?

Today's Must-Read: The G7 Debacle

There's a lot of commentary on how Trump's behavior at the G7 summit shows his ignorance of the mechanisms of international trade. Take this, via Digby:

From the Economist:

On trade, at one point it seemed as though Mr Trump was in search of some sort of grand bargain, as he called for the end of all subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. But this was more an indication of how poorly Mr Trump understands the global trading system than a serious summons to the negotiating table. Even so, combing through the joint communiqué, signs of genuine co-operation were to be found, including a commitment to agree on new rules regarding “market-distorting subsidies” and state-owned enterprises.

Of course, Trump repudiated the communiqué, but then, he'd never intended to support it anyway -- it smacks too much of cooperation with other countries. o (I'm not the only one who thinks so -- Rachel Maddow has the same take.) He's not stupid. He's not as smart as he claims, by any stretch. I wouldn't call him intelligent -- that implies the ability to learn from new evidence, and in that regard he displays the same characteristics as his more ardent worshippers: he, and they, reject anything that doesn't support what they "know" to be true. (It's no coincidence that he has such strong support among evangelicals.)

It is perhaps more surprising that Mr Trump still faces people who think he can be persuaded by facts. The Cirque du Soleil performers who entertained the G7 leaders on Friday evening were not the only ones tying themselves in knots. At the meeting, Mr Trump’s counterparts brought binders of figures to the session devoted to trade in an attempt to persuade him that his belief that the rest of the world was unfair to America was mistaken. Tellingly, the desk in front of Mr Trump was bare. He later told reporters the others had been smiling at him as if they could not believe they had got away with using America as a “piggy bank” for so long. “The gig is up,” he said.

Read the whole thing -- it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what was going on.

Digby has another piece that ties into this directly, in which she underscores what I just said about Trump's lack of good faith going in:

If you wanted a president who would tell his friends to go pound sand, then Donald Trump fulfilled your every wish. He went to Quebec for the G7 summit meeting with the intention of putting American allies in their place. They were to understand who was in charge and who makes the rules: The Trump States of America. On the White House lawn prior to taking off in Marine One for the Canadian summit he made it clear:
We’re going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look at what Canada, Mexico, the European Union, all of them have been doing to us for many, many decades, we have to change it. And they understand it’s going to happen . . . European Union treats us very unfairly. Canada, very unfairly. Mexico, very unfairly.

(If you don't understand why this is nonsense, read this from Paul Krugman, who won his Nobel Prize for his work on international trade.)

Then this got published, and Trump lost it:

I've already mentioned the attacks on Trudeau by Kudlow and Navarro. Digby offers more on Kudlow's performance:

Kudlow, who should know better but seemed somewhat "under the weather," didn't recognize the total absurdity of such pearl-clutching in light of the thuggish threats his boss has been issuing for months. But somewhere in the middle of his bleary tantrum he opened a new front, indicating to Jake Tapper that the G7 countries had been expected to kowtow to Trump and allow him to dominate their industry and trade, as a way to impress North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Trump's manly superiority. He portrayed their unwillingness to sacrifice their own voters to make Trump look like a Real Man as a betrayal of world peace.

Kim may have led a cloistered life, but he's not that dumb. He has already shown that he largely has Trump's number, and what he didn't know before, Chinese President Xi Jinping has surely shared with him in their meetings leading up to this summit. All Trump has done is degrade the alliances between the U.S. and its closest allies for reasons that only he knows.

The reason is that the whole G7 performance was meant to show Kim Jong-Un that Trump is the alpha male, so he'd better watch his step and give Trump what he wants.

We've already seen that Kim can play Trump like a fiddle. I'm half expecting the Singapore summit to end up with a declaration of war.

Read both pieces -- the details are fascinating.

Monday, June 11, 2018

"Stabbed in the Back"

Looks like they've all got their scripts in front of them. Two of Trump's economic advisers, Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro, have come out with the same line.

Navarro's version:

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Navarro told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference.” When asked if the president shares his views, Navarro said that the sentiment came from “Air Force One.“

Well, we know who wrote the script.


“He was polarizing. He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow said in strikingly critical remarks during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He did a great disservice to the whole G7,” he added. Kudlow called Trudeau’s press conference a “sophomoric, political stunt for domestic consumption.”

“President Trump played that process in good faith. So, I ask you: He gets up in the airplane and leaves, and then Trudeau starts blasting him at a domestic news conference? I am sorry, that’s a betrayal. That’s a double cross.”

"President Trump played that process in good faith." If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell. Trump was the only one there who was not working in good faith -- he meant to crap on our allies from the get-go. This is the culmination of weeks of attacks on Trudeau in the run-up to the North Korea summit -- Trump has to impress Kim with how butch he is.

Here's Trudeau stabbing Trump in the back:

His whole press conference is here. I suggest you use the "close caption" setting -- it's in English and French, and the translator and Trudeau are speaking at the same time.

Wonder who's next on the bandwagon? Hannity? Fox and Friends? Line forms to the right.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Masterpiece Cakeshop

I was going to spend some time this morning doing a summation post on the Supreme Court decision and its ramifications, but I've spent this morning, and last morning, fighting with my browser and I'm pooped.

The bottom line is that the decision was very limited, did not deal with the Constitutional issues of "religious freedom" (read: "license to discriminate") versus equality under the law, and was really a punt based on a somewhat dubious interpretation of comments by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Nevertheless, the "religious" right is going to be braying about their immense victory over the forces of evil (gay people) and expect a flurry of suits and legislation on that basis.

Maybe tomorrow.

Review: Kronos Quartet: Winter Was Hard

As promised, another that no longer appears at Epinions (since Epinions no longer appears).

Winter was Hard is one of Kronos Quartet’s anthology albums, and contains a wealth of contemporary music from a wide range of approaches. It is one of the first of their recordings that I owned (in cassette, mind you) and my first exposure to many of the composers included. Coming back to this album after several years, I am amazed at how much of this music is now familiar from other contexts.

The opening work, and the title track, is by Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen, a brief (1:40) piece for chorus and reed organ in addition to the quartet. It is a serene, spiritual piece that could best be described as Gregorian chant with accompaniment, although the text is somewhat mordant. This leads immediately into a section of Terry Riley’s Salome Dances for Peace titled “Half-Wolf Dances Mad in Moonlight.” It contains all the Riley hallmarks and is an excellent selection from the longer work. Kronos’ rendering of Arvo Pärt’s Fratres is haunting, low, quiet, somehow intense and serene at the same time, projecting a great sense of expectancy. Kronos gives a reading of Anton Webern’s Six Bagatelles that pushes the envelope on that composer quite a bit: there is almost an electronic feel to portions of the piece. I would love to see John Zorn’s Forbidden Fruit used as a score by a modern dance troupe. Scored for quartet, voice, and turntables, it is terrifically “avant garde” and, in places, rather humorous, breaking passages of almost overpowering “urban angst” with interludes of fluent melody, punctuated by random words and short phrases.

John Lurie’s Bella by Barlight is a softly lilting piece, plucked strings providing a good foundation for violin passages with a sweet, slightly piquant quality. Four, for Tango, by Astor Piazzolla, is not a tango in any sense that we would recognize, but we can recognize the elements in a surprising new format. Alfred Schnittke’s Quartet No. 3 is one of the more “normal” works on this album, although definitely contemporary. An intense work, it is also the longest selection (19:06), and, although it suffers from “urban angst,” it is well worth the listening.

My hands-down favorite is the Barber Adagio, one of those fairly romantic pieces that one has heard many times in the lushest possible arrangements. To say that Kronos turns this idea on its head falls far short of the mark. Their tight, almost sere approach finds new wonders in the music and provides a kind of transparency that brings great power to what has been, all too often, a “filler.” The fluidity of their interpretation leads to a climax that is almost painful in its intensity. I don’t think I have heard a rendition that matches the quality of this one, or one that pulls so much sheer beauty out of the score. Frankly, they have ruined any other interpretation for me.

The final, very brief piece, A Door is Ajar, is credited as “Traditional” and “arr. Kronos Quartet.” It is a “musical” rendering of the old riddle, “when is a door not a door?” and the sheer effrontery of it finishes your listening experience off with a guffaw.

Kronos Quartet early on marked out their territory among chamber groups: contemporary music, from almost any source. They have done full-scale recordings of works by Terry Riley, with whom they have worked since the late 1970s, any number of anthologies of contemporary composers, including contemporary African music, Witold Lutoslawski, Philip Glass – the list goes on. Not only has this history given them a high profile, it has honed their sensibilities to the point where they are probably the best group working in this area. And this is a service to those who are interested in this music: albums such as this one give you a chance to sample the work of a number of composers with the knowledge that the rendition will be excellent (indeed, Kronos often collaborates directly with the composers).

This music is not to everyone’s taste, but if it fits yours, you will find intelligent, sensitive renderings of some very enjoyable works.

This Week at Green Man Review

Interesting stuff, and it's not Turkish. (Not that there's anything wrong with being Turkish, but enough is enough.)

Weezer’s rendition of Toto’s ‘Africa’, two by Jane Lindskold, Anthony Bourdain, Alastair Reynolds’ The Prefect, an impressive TBR pile, WF organic dark chocolate, Skara Brae’s only album, Folkmanis’ American Kestrel puppet and other matters

There's more.

Weezer does a pretty good cover of "Africa"; that's one of those songs that for some reason always gets to me. (Yes, of course I have the Toto album in my libary. What did you expect?)

At any rate, check it out.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Today's Must-Read: "You Watch My Back, I Watch Yours"

Tom Sullivan has a piece at Hullabaloo this morning that echoes something I've been saying for a long time: Our morality, in spite of what you hear from the money-grubbing Bible-thumpers, is based on one simple tenet: we take care of each other.

Sullivan starts off with a longish Twitter thread, but here's the gist:

Markos wrote this in 2006:
There's a reason most vets running for office this year are running as Democrats. The military is perhaps the ideal society -- we worked hard but the Army took care of us in return. All our basic needs were met -- housing, food, and medical care. It was as close to a color-blind society as I have ever seen. We looked out for one another. The Army invested in us. I took heavily subsidized college courses and learned to speak German on the Army's dime. I served with people from every corner of the country. I got to party at the Berlin Wall after it fell and explored Prague in those heady post-communism days. I wasn't just a tourist; I was a witness to history.

The Army taught me the very values that make us progressives -- community, opportunity, and investment in people and the future.

His basic examples are drawn from the military, but his thrust is to translate those values -- more than "American" values, they are human values -- into civilian life -- life as most of us know it.

Read it.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Cuture Break: Arvo Pärt: Fratres

I used to hear this piece a lot when I was a dance student. For some reason, for a couple of years choreographers thought it was terrific. It's a nice, contemplative, somewhat melancholy piece -- Kronos Quartet included it on their Winter Was Hard album (which is another review that no longer appears at Epinions, Shopping.com, or eBay. Look for it Sunday.

I couldn't find a live performance version of Kronos doing it, but this is a more than creditable interpretation by Endymion:

Did I mention that Pärt is one of my favorite composers? I spent an entire summer listening to his Passio at the beach.

(Yes, I know it's Thursday. Deal with it.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

You may have seen this story from a couple of days ago, about our new ambassador to Germany, Richard Grennell, practicing Trump-style "diplomacy":

Trumpian U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has expressed great excitement over the wave of anti-establishment conservatism in Europe, saying he wants to “empower” leaders of the movement.

At a sit-down interview at his official residence in Berlin with Breitbart London, Ambassador Grenell said: “There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on.”

“I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left,” he added.

Somehow, wanting to "empower" Nazis and their allies in Germany smacks a little bit of being tone-deaf. OK, completely tone-deaf.

And I'd love to know more about those "failed policies" of the left. Does he means the ones that insure that people have health care, jobs, food on the table, and the like? Those policies seem to be pretty successful, especially in western Europe.

And this part just demonstrates how far out to lunch Grennell is:

“There’s no question about that and it’s an exciting time for me. I look across the landscape and we’ve got a lot of work to do but I think the election of Donald Trump has empowered individuals and people to say that they can’t just allow the political class to determine before an election takes place, who’s going to win and who should run.”

Of course -- that's why we have primaries and nominating conventions and the like -- to make sure the voters have no voice.

Needless to say, the reaction has not been positive, both in Germany and at home.

And of course, the State Department is defending him:

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday defended remarks by the new U.S. ambassador to Germany that drew condemnation from across that country’s political spectrum, saying that U.S. envoys “have a right to express their opinions.”

“Don’t we as Americans have the right to free speech?” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in response to questions about U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell’s comments in an interview he gave last weekend to Breitbart News.

Asked whether it is State Department policy for U.S. ambassadors to advocate for particular political parties, Nauert responded, “Ambassadors have a right to express their opinion. They’re representatives of the White House, whether it’s this administration or other administrations.”

One, representatives of the U.S. government, such as ambassadors, do not have an unfettered right to express their own opinions -- there are distinct limits on that for them.

Two, do note the self-contradiction in her last statement.

(Nauert, by the way, in a previous incarnation was one of Fox News' resident racists.)

The German government should just declare him persona non grata and kick his ass out of the country, but they won't -- Merkel is a lot smarter than Trump.

Putin laughed.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Hypocrisy So Thick

you could walk on it. Mitch McTurtle's rationale for cancelling the Senate's August recess:

Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president’s nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled,” McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement on Tuesday.
(emphasis added -- as if you needed it.)

McTurtle obviously has the same sense of history that his boss does. (You don't think Trump is his boss? Guess again.)

What the article points out, and what is probably more on point, is that cancelling the recess is going to hamstring the ability of vulnerable Democrats to go home and campaign. And don't ever think he's not that underhanded.

Green Man Review

The site's up and running again, so you can pop on over to read about things Turkish. Really, truly.

The Wedding Cake Decision

It's weird. My first impression is that it's right up there with Hobby Lobby and Citizens United in terms of farfetched assumptions. I'll post in some detail tomorrow, since I have an appointment this morning and there's a lot of commentary to digest.


Sunday, June 03, 2018

This Week at Green Man Review

Due to trouble with the database, this week's edition is late. I'll post a reminder when it finally goes live. Patience, my dears -- these things happen.

Review: David Petersen: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

Another from the late lamented Epinions. I actually discovered this book from a review at Green Man Review. (Yes, I do occasionally read reviews, especially when I have to edit them.)

After the Winter War of 1149, when the Mouse Guard threw off the yoke of the Weasel Warlord, the mouse cities in the forest were able to live in relative peace -- as much peace as mice can find, at any rate. The Guard, under the captaincy of Gwendolyn, maintains the safety of the trade roads and protects the farmers and merchants. One merchant has gone mssing -- he and his grain cart never reached Barkstone. Three of the Guard's finest, Kenzie, Saxon, and Lieam, are sent to rescue him. They discover his cart and, after dispatching a snake that attacks them, discover the merchant -- pretty thoroughly digested, by this point. They also discover among his effects a map of Lockhaven, the Guard's stronghold, the sort of thing that is kept under lock and key and is never to leave the fortress town: their merchant was a traitor, but in league with who?

This one is a delight, from the mice -- real mice, with tiny little pink toes and beady little eyes, not disneyfied in the least -- to the absorbing story -- an action/thriller if there ever was one -- to the wonderful graphics work. Where to start?

The story is a good one, tight and well planned, with mouse-heroics galore, treachery, a night march on Lockhaven, leaders plotting strategy, and even horrendous monsters. The characters are vividly drawn -- Lieam, a new recruit but a hero nevertheless, is a prize -- while Gwendolyn is the very picture of a commander with a major mess on her doorstep, and the context is well thought out and beautifully executed.

The drawing is just wonderful. What he can't show in facial expressions -- and let's be honest, mouse physiognomy doesn't leave a lot of room here -- Petersen conveys in body language, and the mice actually look like mice. (Sorry -- that still just blows me away.) The pages are beautiful -- the drawing is better than good, the colors -- mostly in warm tones, browns and golds and coppers and siennas and umbers, with just the right touches of blue and green and gray -- are perfect, and layouts, while pretty regular, set up some good rhythms through Petersen's formal sophistication -- things like two-page spreads in which one page mirrors the layout of the other, and then suddenly you hit a spread that is all one scene. It sets up a nice flow for the story, very clear and intelligible. (A note: looking through again, I'm struck by the way Petersen manages to blend realism and formal abstraction in the same scenes -- it makes for very rich, strong images and doesn't really call attention to itself.)

There's not a lot else to say -- in its most important aspects, the book is simply indescribable. You really have to see it. In fact, I highly recommend that you do.

(Archaia Entertainment, 2009)

Today's Must-Read: Horror Story

I've written about the Trump regime's practice of separating children from their parents at the border, no matter the circumstances of their arrival. (A follow-up post is here.) From Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, the full petty nastiness of this regime in depth:

Buzzfeed reported Friday night:
A Salvadoran mother who applied for asylum as part of a caravan of Central Americans that traversed Mexico for the United States this spring has had her two sons removed from her custody and placed in the care of the federal government in New York.

Officials offered no explanation for removing the children, the latest in what's becoming a growing pattern of separating immigrant parents from their children under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy for undocumented migrants caught trying to sneak into the US along the southwest border.
Except the woman had arrived at port of entry, applied for asylum, and passed the first step in the process. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gave her 10 minutes to say goodbye to her children.

And they're violating not only American law, but international law as well:

Except under international law, signatories to the Convention and Protocols Relating to the Status of Refugees "shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened." The U.S. is a signatory. Donald Trump might call a bad deal, but it is a binding one.

All the worst aspects of Trump and his base in one nasty package, only exacerbated by the actions and attitudes of the knuckle-draggers who are enforcing this policy. (I could make a few comments here about small people with a little bit of power, but you know the type: ICE agents, TSA agents, petty bureaucrats, "bad" cops.)

It's worth reading, if your stomach's up to it. And then consider how quickly Trump and his minions have destroyed our standing in the world. Putin is just beside himself with glee.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Antidote: Zoo Baby

Via Digby, there's a new baby crowned lemur at NaturZoo Reine in Germany on May 7.

Crowned Lemurs (Eulemur coronatus) are listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN. In Madagascar they are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting. European Zoos are cooperating within a coordinated breeding-programme (EEP) to maintain an “insurance population” of these lemurs, which in future might provide animals for re-stocking or release in their native range.

There are currently some 80 Crowned Lemurs in European zoos. The baby born at NaturZoo Rheine will contribute to this hopefully growing population.

Lincoln Park Zoo has, I believe, five crowned lemurs (they're hard to count -- they keep moving around when they're not all sleeping in a big clump) and had a birth last year.

Digby links to a site called "ZooBorns" which does have a somewhat spotty page for Lincoln Park Zoo. Just off the top of my head, what's missing from ZooBorn's LPZ pages are: four snowy owl chicks last year, four Japanese macaques born two (three females) and three (one male) years ago, a Grevy's Zebra born either last year or the year before, ditto for a Bactrian camel, and a litter of red wolves born two or three years ago. Oh, and there's a new black-and-white colobus born this year, a couple of white-cheeked gibbons born last year and a Hoffman's two-toed sloth born last year.

I should also mention that LPZ has the largest nesting colony of black-crowned night herons in Illinois; they are endangered in the state. They've pretty much taken over the Children's Zoo (although for some reason they avoid the bear habitat -- wrong kind of trees, I think). Zoo staff has blocked off parts of the path because guano.

There -- isn't that better than Trump?

Friday, June 01, 2018

Today in Stupid: How To Lose Friends and Influence People

In all the wrong ways. Yes, of course this is about Trump, who has now decided to impose tariffs on steel, aluminum, and anything else he can think of imported from our closest trading partners: Canada, Mexico, and the EU.

The United States is likely to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU Thursday, according to a source familiar with the decision.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation, said the tariff decision is coming this morning and is "99.9" percent done. The U.S. expects the EU will retaliate in due course.

Because, of course, it's all so unfair:

"People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries. By people representing us who didn't have a clue," Trump said, arguing that trade trends "destroyed" American steel and aluminum industries.

Needless to say, he's totally clueless. Take Canada, for example:

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable. The numbers are clear: The United States has a $2 billion U.S. dollars surplus in steel trade with Canada – and Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, half of U.S. steel exports. Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. defense industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks. That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.

“I want to be very clear about one thing: Americans remain our partners, friends, and allies. This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.” – Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, speaking at a press conference last night.

That "national security" jab is a response to Trump's cover story: somehow, importing steel and aluminum from our staunchest allies is a threat to "national security."

Canada will retaliate:
Canada will impose retaliatory tariffs on C$16.6 billion ($12.8 billion) worth of U.S. exports and challenge U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday.

Mexico and the EU will also retaliate:

Europe and Mexico pledged to retaliate quickly, exacerbating trans-Atlantic and North American trade tensions.

The European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Trump’s decision amounted to trade protectionism and that Europe would respond with countermeasures. “This is protectionism, pure and simple,” Juncker said. Mexico said it would penalize U.S. imports including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

He's also talking about imposing tariffs on Japanese cars:

President Trump last week launched an investigation into whether auto imports posed a national security risk to the U.S., a justification that might be used to raise the duty on cars from 2.5 percent up to 25 percent.

“It’s hard for Japan to understand and we cannot accept it,” Abe said in a session of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, adding that Tokyo would let Washington know its concern over the direction of U.S. trade policy.

And he wants a total ban on imports of German luxury cars:

President Trump wants to impose a total ban on the imports of German luxury cars, according to a new report from CNBC and German magazine WirtschaftsWoche.

Several U.S. and European diplomats told the news outlets that Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron about his plans last month during a state visit.

Trump reportedly told Macron that he would maintain the ban until no Mercedes-Benz cars are seen on Fifth Avenue in New York.

There's one small problem with that:

A number of German automakers have plants in the U.S., including Mercedes-Benz in Alabama and BMW in South Carolina.

That popping sound you hear is champagne bottles being opened in the Kremlin.

Aside from the fact that Trump is a moron, we're long past the time when any single country can go it on its own. The world just doesn't work that way any more. Tom Sullivan has a good analysis of the whole debacle, and brings up an interesting point that supports my comment:

Catherine Rampell writes in the Washington Post that his view of trade echoes the mercantilists of the 17th and 18th centuries before there was an America to be great:
Like an 18th-century mercantilist, Trump perceives no mutual gains from trade. In any transaction, he sees only a winner and a loser. And the winner is determined by who has the trade surplus.

Since there’s no way everyone could come out ahead, there’s no point in trying to create a system of rules oriented toward that outcome. Plus, he seems to believe everyone’s going to cheat anyway — including, and perhaps especially, our supposed friends.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, countries could engage in this sort of behavior: there was no such thing as the multi-national corporation then, for starters. It was also the beginning of the age of colonialism, when the "great powers" were free to plunder "newly discovered" lands to enrich themselves. It doesn't work that way any more (except that it's those multi-nationals doing the plundering these days, but even that's winding down -- it's gotten to be really bad PR).

The only ones who are going to suffer from this latest round of Trump's idiocy are us. Again.