"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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Constitution? What Constitution? (Update)

From His Wannabe Majesty, Donald the First:

Trump told "Axios on HBO" that he has run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to proceed with the highly controversial move, which certainly will face legal challenges.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.

When told that's very much in dispute, Trump replied: "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States ... with all of those benefits," Trump continued. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end." (More than 30 countries, most in the Western Hemisphere, provide birthright citizenship.)

"It's in the process. It'll happen ... with an executive order."

"They're saying" again. He must mean the voices in his head.

And joining the chorus, first Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Ol' Dixie):

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said that he will introduce legislation to end birthright citizenship after President Trump suggested he wanted to do so through an executive order.

"Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship. I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform — and at the same time — the elimination of birthright citizenship," Graham said in a string of tweets.

He added that he plans "to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order" from Trump. Congress is out of session until Nov. 13.

And of course, VP Mike Pence has to jump in:

But Vice President Pence said "we all cherish" the 14th Amendment but appeared to suggest that the administration had an opening if Trump issues an executive order.

"The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally,” Pence said at a Politico event on Tuesday.

Pence is, as usual, playiing word games. while he's correct that the Supreme Court has not ruled specifically on the issue of children born to residents who are not legally in the country, the Court ruled quite definitely on the issue of birthright citizenship in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), which doesn't really leave much wiggle room. (It's also interesting to note how much that decision made use of English Common Law and the Napoleonic Code,, for those who get all worked up about our courts even acknowledging foreign law.) The wording of the Amendment itself is quite plain, and the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is quite thoroughly explored in Wong Kim Ark.

In the final analysis, this is going nowhere, but, like most observers, I think it's pretty obvious that this is another of Trump's attempts to get the deplorables to the polls.

Update: Via Digby, this analysis by Ian Milhauser goes into more depth:

Donald Trump, in an interview with Axios, said that he plans to sign an executive order stripping many Americans of their citizenship. Though it is unclear how far Trump wants to go, or whether he would attempt to retroactively strip many existing citizens of their citizenship, Trump apparently wants to target the children of undocumented immigrants.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump falsely claimed. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Trump’s plan is unconstitutional. It’s not even arguably constitutional. It is so obviously unconstitutional that it was rejected by a notoriously racist Supreme Court more than a century ago. The few scholars who think that Trump can actually do this are considered radicals even within conservative legal circles.

By the way, that bull-pucky about being the only country in the world with birthright citizenship is, as might be expected, just that: bull-pucky. There are at least 30 other countries who recognize that right.

Culture Break: The Danish String Quartet: Drømte mig en drøm

I couldn't find an actual performance video of this one, but it can certainly be just listened to. Another one from Last Leaf, and one of my favorites:

(Yes, I know it's Halloween and I don't care.)

Somehow, I'm Not Surprised

I think the headline from this article says it all:

Most White Evangelicals Say Immigration, Increasing Racial Diversity Harms America

Read the whole thing. Then go vote.

Via Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Because He Really Wants a Parade

It's called "displacement":

The U.S. military plans to deploy 5,000 troops to the southwest U.S. border in anticipation of a caravan of would-be asylum seekers and migrants currently moving northward in Mexico, U.S. officials said Monday.

The new figure is a major increase from initial estimates of 800 troops and would represent a military force equal to about one-third the number of customs officials currently working at the border. The military sent about 2,000 National Guard troops to the area earlier this year.

“This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” President Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday morning, without directly mentioning troop numbers.

Like a six-year-old with toy soldiers. He's really impressed by stuff like that.

All to meet a non-existent threat:

"[Trump] is talking specifically about a provision where the president gets to protect national security," Wallace explained. "We're talking, in many cases here, about women, about children, about babies. How do they threaten national security?"

"This isn't a ticketed event," Nielsen shot back. "You don't have a membership in the caravan. Moment to moment, there are people raising their hand saying they are part of the so-called caravan and there are others... who say they are no longer part of the caravan."

"This is about the rule of law, this is about understanding who is in the flow," she added. "And, Chris, I cannot tell you as secretary of Homeland Security that I know every person in this flow. What I do know is that we stop 3,000 people a year who have travel patterns similar to terrorists."

Nielsen kept dodging the issue of whether the caravan -- composed overwhelmingly of women and children -- poses a threat -- because it doesn't.

And to have any member of the Trump regime citing the rule of law is beyond travesty.

Why all the hysteria about a group of people who, at their present pace, won't reach the border for months? Well, look at your calendar:

"The migrants, according to Fox News reporting, are two months away, if any of them actually come here. But [Tuesday] is one week before the midterm election, which is what all of this is about," he told viewers.

Reassuring his audience, he continued, "There is no invasion, no one's coming to get you, there's nothing at all to worry about."

Trump is scared shitless that he's going to lose the House, which means no more roll over and play dead Congress.

Must suck, being him.

How Not to Win Friends, etc.

I made the mistake, earlier in this election season, of signing an online petition or two for some good cause or other. I have since been inundated with e-mails from everyone you can think of on the left, urging me to sign another petition, call everyone I know and urge them to vote, go door-to-door stumping for the Democrats, etc., etc., etc. They've come from, among others, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi. I'd be really flattered if I though any one of them had actually sent the e-mail or had any idea who I am.

I'm talking more than a dozen a day.

My response to all this activism: I voted already. I don't do phone banks or door-to-door, especially in this weather. Back off.

Today in Right-Wing Hypocrisy

From none other than the holotype of bigoted, hypocritical "Christian":

Sessions was speaking at the Boston Lawyers chapter of the Federalist Society when a man, later identified as United Methodist Pastor Will Green of Ballard Vale United Church in Andover, Mass., interrupted with quoted lines from the Bible.

“I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me,” Green said. “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.”

The pastor was then escorted from the room. Another pastor, identified as Darrell Hamilton of First Baptist Church of Boston, also addressed Sessions and was escorted out.

That quote is from Matthew 25, and is my favorite to throw in the face of these anti-immigrant neo-fascists. But Sessions' response is priceless:

"I don't believe there's anything in my theology that says a secular nation-state cannot have lawful laws to control immigration in this country. That’s what we’re talking about," Sessions said. "It’s not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them, in my view. I feel like that’s my responsibility and that’s what I intend to do.”

That's one of the smarmiest things I've heard from Sessions, who is also the type specimen of smarmy.

So, suddenly the U.S. is a "secular nation"; funny, I could swear that we're a "Christian" nation. And by the way, they're not enforcing the laws; they're making it up as they go along. Note: "the law" is as follows:

8 U.S. Code § 1158 - Asylum

(a) Authority to apply for asylum

(1) In general

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.

What Trump, et al. are trying to do is circumvent the law to keep their racist, isolationist base happy. That's all.

Footnote: Scrolling down through the Code section, I ran across this. Hide your irony meter:

(2) Exceptions

(A) In generalParagraph (1) shall not apply to an alien if the Attorney General determines that—

(i) the alien ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion;

Pity the Trump cultists aren't trying to emigrate. Oh, well, you can't have everything.

Via Joe.My.God.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: Amoeba: Watchful

A day later than I usually post these, but yesterday was sort of bleh. Another from that now-defunct site formerly known as Epinions. 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.

(Lektronic Soundscapes, 1997)

"Disease" Is the New "Terrorism"

Looks like Fox has fixed on its new meme in the run-up to the election so that voters will focus on the threat to national security of women and children seeking refuge rather than health care, domestic terrorism, and the like. First off, one of the most despicable people on the airwaves, neo-Nazi poster girl Laura Ingraham:

After days of venom aimed at the helpless and terrified people walking in the caravan to the southern border of the United States, Ingraham is now directly saying that these innocent people are unvaccinated (how do they know this?) and infested with diseases, like rabies and typhoid.

Ingraham has given the category "disgusting people" a whole new meaning -- I don't know where they found this "doctor," but she's obviously right on board with Fox's agenda: just haul out every ailment you can think of. I do recommend you watch as much of the video as you can stomach -- it's really amazing that anyone could deliver such a load of bullshit with a straight face -- and I trained as an actor.

And of course, "Fox and Friends" is right up there -- after all, got to make sure Trump gets the message so he can tweet about it:

During a Monday morning discussion of the caravan, Kilmeade warned about “entire populations coming here” and then questioned whether we wanted to let them in because of the “diseases” that they could bring in.

“What about diseases?” he asked. “There’s a reason you can’t bring your kid to school unless he’s inoculated. There’s things in this country — we already give 40 to 50 percent of our taxable income in this country to the government for social programs. Is it too much to say that we can’t have countries — entire populations — come in here without being seen as hard-hearted?”

Guest Dan Bongino similarly told Fox viewers that they needed to be terrified of what the caravan will bring to the country.

"Entire populations"? Seriously? And does anyone in this county pay 40 to 50 percent of their taxable income to the government? For anything?

Watch this one -- it's short, and it's totally over the top:

One comment on Kilmeade's comment about illegal entry: Under American law, anyone can present themselves at an entry point and request asylum, at which point the asylum process begins. They are not "illegal". That's the law.

Sounds to me like someone is really, really worried about the midterms. And especially in the wake of the increase in hate crimes and domestic terrorism lately (perpetrated by, let me remind you, white guys), Fox has really got to get their audience to refocus on the real danger: Brown people.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What's New at Green Man Review

It's Sunday again, and there's lots of stuff at GMR -- after all, it's heading toward Halloween, and that's what this edition is about (mostly). No details in the headline so just pop on over and have fun.

The Lower Depths (Updated)

Maybe we'd be better off if Trump just didn't make statements on tragic events:

President Donald Trump responded to the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue which resulted in multiple fatalities by blaming the synagogue for not having armed guards inside.

The gunman shot at least three armed police officers, but Trump did not appear to account for that in his remarks. Here is what he said to reporters:

This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately...maybe there would be nobody killed.

And let's all remember whose campaign for president got $30 million from the NRA.

And in what kind of country do you hire armed guards to protect you at worship? Just for some perspective:

Via Joe.My.God.

Let's face it, this is typical of Trump, and he's not going to change: he doesn't care about anyone but himself (and I'm very serious about that -- I have no doubt that he'd cut his children loose -- even Ivanka -- if he felt threatened enough). And let's be very plain about it: this is his doing. No, he didn't create this kind of toxic atmosphere -- that honor belongs to much more intelligent people than he is -- but he capitalized on it, and continues to do so, because it reflects his own thinking and resonates with the worst we have to offer: he's one of them, a bully with thin skin and a severe ego deficit:

President Donald Trump is refusing to acknowledge his role in this week's terror attacks which culminated in Friday afternoon's arrest of an anti-Democratic extremist Trump-supporting suspect.

"Not at all, no. There is no blame. There is no anything," the President told reporters late Friday afternoon from the White House lawn. He added that the suspect, Cesar Sayoc, merely is "a person that preferred me over others."

. . .

Trump went as far as to commend himself, saying he's "been toned down, if you want to know the truth."

"I could really tone it up, because the media has been extremely unfair to me and the Republican Party," President Trump told reporters. "The media has been unbelievably unfair to Republicans & certainly to me."

Anything that's not slavish adoration is "unfair."

Footnote: As might be expected, reactions to Trump's comments have been less than positive.

Ann Laurie at Balloon Juice takes the press to task, as well. The zinger:

Update: And just to make sure the target is clear:

Lo! How the mighty have fallen!

Update II: And from Tom Levenson, a look at history and complicity:

Thirty six years ago, on September 12, 1982, a Lebanese Maronite militia invaded two refugee camps occupied by Palestinians. As The New York Times remembered on the 30th anniversary of the disaster,

In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men.

That reference to the flares points to the miserable truth behind the blood and broken bodies: the people on the spot, those militiamen handled the killing. They pulled the triggers, broke the women, shattered the bodies. They were guilty of those crimes; they did the worst that human beings can do.

But there were others who stood aside, hands nominally clean while the predictable result of their actions and their studied inactions played out in Sabra and Shatila.

After the fact, the Israeli government ordered an investigation into the massacres, and they got a real one. It concluded that

Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.

Sharon didn’t fire a single shot; no blood spattered the shoes of his colleagues, and the Israeli soldiers on the front lines in Lebanon did nothing more than stay out of the way. But as the report concluded, those in charge in Israeli knew what would happen if the Maronite militias gained free rein in the camps, and they let events unfold anyway. They were guilty not of murder, but of enabling the killings, of giving permission for an atrocity.

Fast forward to 2018 and a "leader" who gives permission for the unhinged and delusional to commit atrocities against their (his) "enemies."

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Today in Right-Wing Civility

Junior on the attack:

Donald Trump Jr. blasted Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) at a boisterous rally in his home state on Friday, calling him a “piece of garbage” for sinking Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year.

Trump Jr., who headlined a rally for Tester's GOP Senate rival Matt Rosendale and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R), slammed Tester over Jackson's failed VA nomination, saying the Democratic senator had “ruined this guy’s life" after a bitter confirmation process.

President Trump's eldest son accused Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, of putting out “all sorts of baseless accusations” on the orders of Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

Do I really need to say anything?

Via Joe.My.God.

Today in Weird

I normally have spider solitaire open on my computer while I'm surfing in the morning, to keep my fingers busy while I'm waiting for new pages to load, etc. It's free, but it has ads.

For some reason, the last couple of days the ads have all been in German.

Quote du Jour

From, of course:

Today In Delusions

I just ran across this this morning, and, while it's become increasingly obvious that there is a certain percentage of humanity that's impervious to evidence, I hadn't realized how far it can go:

The question is, which is the hoax? Australia or this Facebook post?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Investigate What?

Paul Waldman has an excellent piece at WaPo on Trump's cell phone usage and the Republican reaction:

If you cast your mind back to 2016, you’ll recall that Republicans were emphatic when it came to their deep concern for proper information security and email management in government. The fact that Hillary Clinton used a private email server wasn’t an outrage simply because she was their political opponent; no, there were principles involved, about protecting American secrets and adhering to proper protocols and procedures.

Fast forward to 2018:

But no. No Republican members of Congress are calling for an investigation, no conservative pundits are shaking their fist at the cameras and saying this is a national crisis, and there will be no round-the-clock denunciations of the president on Fox News. (One National Review writer did note that “If Trump was a Dem, Fox might try to bend the space/time continuum to put Hannity on for 25 hours a day to chase the story.”)

You could call it “hypocrisy,” but that word doesn’t quite cover it. It’s become so expected that we’ll drop it and move on by tomorrow; all Republicans will have to do is avoid the cameras for a few hours so that they don’t have to answer any uncomfortable questions, and then they can go back to saying how mad they are that Brett Kavanaugh had to answer some uncomfortable questions before getting his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Via Digby, who underscores that last paragraph:

Senate Judiciary committee chair Chuck Grassley has called for an FBI investigation into lawyer Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick, one of the many women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, reported John King Thursday on CNN.

That should be fun -- Avenatti is going to eat Grassley alive. And not even burp.

Let's see -- what kind of country is it where high-ranking officials call on the resources of the government to "investigate" (read "harass") political enemies? That, to me, is just as bad as Trump's casual disregard for national security. Oh, I forgot -- five thousand women and children seeking refuge is a threat to national security; the Russians and Chinese, not so much.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Bombs (Updated)

So far, bombs or "suspicious packages" have been sent to Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Debby Wasserman Schultz, Eric Holder, Kamala Harris, George Soros, Maxine Waters, CNN -- there may be one or two I've missed. (Here's a summary, with updates.) Trump's response to this domestic terrorism?

President Donald Trump Wednesday evening took no responsibility for his very personal attacks on top Democrats who were targets of assassination attempts just hours earlier. He did, however, call on the media to "to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility," and to stop what he called "negative" and "false" attacks. . . .

"The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories," Trump told a Wisconsin audience at a campaign rally to bolster Republicans running for re-election. "They have to do it. They have to do it. They have got to stop. Bring people together. We are just 13 days away from a very, very important election, it is an election of monumental, if you look at it, monumental importance."

Because he's not responsible for anything -- except other people's accomplishments.

Update: Needless to say, it's a plot by the left:

Minutes after news broke of “potential explosive devices” being mailed to the homes of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with CNN’s New York City studio, the dark corners of the conservative internet were declaring it a secret plot to gin up empathy for Democrats.

Cries that the bomb threats were merely a “false flag” operation were evident on Twitter and pro-Trump forums. Many of the personalities pushing the claim were fringe types. But not all of them.

Popular talk radio host Rush Limbaugh hinted that the attempted bombings were set-up by Democrats, saying they would serve a political “purpose.”

“It’s happening in October,” Limbaugh said. “There’s a reason for this.”

Similarly, right-wing radio host Michael Savage outright declared that “it’s a high probability that the whole thing is set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats... and to get our minds off the hordes of illegal aliens approaching our southern border.”

I dunno -- Michael Savage is pretty fringe, if you ask me.

This Is What They're Really Worried About

It's amazing what slips out of the mouths of Republicans when they think no one's listening:

Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

Lest you think this is some sort of fluke:

Kemp’s recent decision to suspend more than 53,000 voter applications, 70 percent of which were filed by black residents, for violating the state’s “exact match” verification standard has drawn attention to his penchant for restrictive voter laws and purging of voter rolls. American Public Media reported last week that Kemp purged an estimated 107,000 voters last year simply because they didn’t vote in the prior election. He is also being sued for leaving more than 6 million Georgia voting records open to hacking.

Kemp, a staunch Trump supporter who has echoed the president’s language concerning Russia’s election interference, was also the only Secretary of State in the nation to refuse Homeland Security’s help prior to the 2016 election.

One other reason that Kemp’s “right to vote” line is potentially alarming is that he is facing another lawsuit after reports that an abnormal number of absentee ballots — 595, more than a third of the state’s total and 300 of which reportedly belong to black and Asian American voters — have been rejected in the state’s most racially diverse county, Gwinnett. The Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Asian-American Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed suit last Monday to request that three days be provided after the election for rejected voters to resolve the matter so that their ballots count.

Kemp is not unique -- in every state with Republican majorities in the legislature, or Republicans dominating the executive, there are major efforts to keep likely Democratic voters (i.e., minorities) from voting. This should really come as no surprise: they've been talking for years about gaining a "permanent majority". Their policies are highly unpopular -- at least, among normal people -- and the Republicans in Congress (yes, Mitch McConnell, I'm talking about you) have no compunction about changing the rules to maintain their hold on power.

"Permanent majority" -- by whatever means necessary.

Via Towleroad.

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Now that Rape-a-holic Kavanaugh is on the throne -- excuse me, I mean Supreme Court -- the government is jumping right in to give Tony Perkins another wet dream:

The Justice Department today told the U.S. Supreme Court that businesses can discriminate against workers based on their gender identity without violating federal law.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the high court that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination on the job doesn’t cover transgender bias. That approach already has created a rift within the Trump administration, contradicting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s view of the law it’s tasked with enforcing.

This was, you understand, the EEOC's view under the Obama administration. They just haven't gotten around to changing their minds yet.

If the Court decides to take this case, it will be interesting to see what logical gyrations they undertake to find that Title VII does not protect against anti-LGBT bias. The Sixth Circuit was quite definite:

With its ruling in the funeral home case, the Sixth Circuit last year became the first federal appeals court in the country to conclude that transgender bias is sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It previously recognized transgender discrimination as a form of prohibited sex stereotyping.

The court said Harris Funeral Homes violated the law by firing Stephens after she told owner Thomas Rost she was transitioning to a woman.

“It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the Sixth Circuit.

The court rejected the company’s claim that Stephens overstepped a funeral home dress code requiring her to wear clothing corresponding to her birth gender and that allowing her to continue to work at the funeral home would distract mourners. It also said the company wasn’t protected by a federal religious freedom law, even though Rost said allowing Stephens to continue working would conflict with his Christian beliefs.

“You’re talking about someone with the same bundle of experience and qualifications coming back in the form of a woman,” Nevins said. “That sounds like not only a viable sex discrimination case but a slam dunk case.”

I wonder if they can come up with a decision as badly reasoned as Citizens United or Hobby Lobby.

Via Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Culture Break: The Danish String Quartet: Æ Rømeser

I don't know if I've used this one before; if I haven't, well, I'm using it now. This is for all of us suffering from too much news, most of it bad -- I just needed to hear something peaceful and beautiful this morning.

It's from their album Last Leaf, which is a collection of mostly Nordic traditional tunes arranged for string quartet.

My review of the album is here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Today's Must-Read: Snowflake Edition

Digby has an interesting post on politicians being accosted in public places by -- well, the public -- and the reactions from, of all people, journalists:

This past weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was yelled at in a Louisville restaurant while sitting with his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. A man approached their table and angrily told they should leave the country. When other patrons spoke up and told him to leave them alone he shouted, "They're coming for Social Security!" (This happens to be true. McConnell told CNBC just last week that the only solution for the massive deficit caused by his massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy is to cut "entitlements.")

There have been several similar incidents. Protesters and constituents have approached Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in public places, giving them hell over policies and practices.

Of all the people in our public life to get angry about this, the last you'd expect would be members of the media, who are being demonized by the president and these very same politicians. But some of them are quite upset and have taken to social media to scold citizens for addressing their leaders in this way[.] . . .

These are all fine reporters but they are on the wrong track. The same First Amendment that protects them from the authoritarian impulses of a politician like Donald Trump also protects these citizens' free speech and right to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

I find it absolutely astonishing that reporters, the media, would come out defending politicians who support a president who, among other things, has praised a congressman for physically attacking a reporter. And hacks like McConnell, Cruz, and Sanders are themselves part of the rot that's infested our government -- they certainly don't deserve much in the way of deference.

I guess it's true, what they say about the Villagers -- they're not even sure anything exists outside of Washington cocktail parties. I have news for them: democracy is not always well-behaved.

Idiot du Jour, Trump Family Edition

Looks like Eric is making a strong bid for dumbest Trump:

Anyone who passed a civic class in high school knows what a load that one is.

And as for McDaniel's tweet, I have one word: "Benghazi".

Some of the responses are hysterical. Click through to read them all.

Monday, October 22, 2018


That's not what they were supposed to say:

"Fox & Friends” on Monday had a panel of independent voters to discuss the caravan of Central American immigrants heading through Mexico toward the United States — but it backfired hilariously after the guests expressed empathy for migrants.

Even though the show had spent the entire morning running scare-mongering segments about the caravan, the independent voters on the show said they were nonetheless supportive of helping the migrants.

“There’s a humanitarian crisis taking place in Central America,” said one independent voter interviewed by Fox News’ Steve Doocy. “And yet, this issue gets turned into a complete political football. There’s very little about what’s actually happening.”

A second guest quickly piped up to agree, while subtly knocking Fox for its efforts to frighten viewers about the migrants.

“Treating this as an ‘invasion’ is a bad idea and it’s going to end horribly,” he said. “People have to realize, yeah, these are human beings coming here, and there needs to be a real solution offered in dealing with it.”

American are better than what Trump wants us to believe. It occurs to me that the erosion of our standing in the world is not simply that our president is a joke. It wasn't based on money or military power (for those nations not led by people like Trump), but much more on our willingness to help. We took the lead in the fight against AIDS in Africa and Asia, we've always been there with relief for natural disasters, both at home and abroad, and -- well, remember the Peace Corps?

And, as it turns out, most Americans still believe in that. Which makes me wonder all the more how we put a bunch of sociopaths like Trump and the Republicans in charge.

"Mob Rule"

That's what Lindsey Graham and the Republicans think of American democracy:

"I'm going to let everybody in these states know what happens if you put the Democratic Party in charge of this country," he said. "You're rewarding mob rule. You're undercutting the rule of law. Don't give these people power."

Says the newest shill for the most corrupt, lawless administration in American history. Remember, he's now supporting a president who thinks he can rule by executive order.

But never fear: The Republicans are going to save the country (This is a must-read):

Our representative democracy is under attack. There is no gunfire, no explosions. But under attack nonetheless. The FBI has implicated Russian agents in manipulating the 2016 elections, potentially with the cooperation of the Donald Trump campaign. But the 2018 elections are under attack today in Georgia, in North Dakota, and elsewhere by U.S. "crisis actors."
Trump, now president, made himself fraudster-in-chief in warning American voters against voting. “All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING," Trump tweeted Saturday night. "Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”. . .
Trump might well have posted police in armbands outside the polls in minority neighborhoods. Let's not mince words. We know what he and Republican agents across the country are doing. They are openly attempting to steal elections by disenfranchising minority voters. They are trying to intimidate them into staying away from the polls.

Trump is already setting the stage for rejecting the results of the election if it doesn't go his way:

Donald trump took to his "bully pulpit" on Twitter to speak out about voter fraud.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump
All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!
7:36 PM - Oct 20, 2018
Twitter Ads info and privacyThis echoes statements made by the president prior to the 2016 election, and is stoking fears that he is attempting to pave the way to declare the elections in question if they do not go his way.
After the 2016 race, Trump claimed that voter fraud affected the outcome, stating that he actually won the popular vote, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

And Paul Krugman paints a grim picture of what Trump will do if the Democrats take the House.

In the first tweet, Krugman wrote, “If Democrats don’t at least take the House, God help us. But even if they do, we’ll be facing a nightmarish political scene. Republicans will claim that the election was stolen, and deny the majority’s legitimacy.”

He then noted that Trump appointee, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, is refusing to turn over documents to Congress with Trump’s blessing, adding Wilkie’s defiance is a preview of what is to come.

I keep thinking it can't happen here -- while I'm watching it happen.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

What's New At Green Man Review

We're heading toward Halloween, but there's still lots of non-holiday stuff on offer:

An Aaron Copland cornucopia, Justice League Dark, Yolen’s favourite Tolkien, contemporary urban fantasy from Tanya Huff, Leonard Cohen live, Halloween candy, Rock from Down Under, and other hopefully tasty matters

There -- doesn't that look enticing? Scoot on over and check it out.

This Kid Gets It

The kid knows exactly why dinosaurs became extinct:

So why doesn't Answers in Genesis get it?

Via Friendly Atheist.

Blatant, Again

This is by way of a follow-up to this post. More detail on the Republicans' plan to take away our Social Security and Medicare:

After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem," McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that "it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future." The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.

It is a Republican problem pure and simple. And now he's trying to pin it on the Democrats.

Read the whole article. Via Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo. Read his post, too.

Truth To Power

As he says, this is why GOP reps didn't want to do town halls on healthcare:

With thanks to commenter John Davenport at Joe.My.God.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Today's Must-Read: Digby on the Khashoggi Murder

Pretty detailed, and pulls a lot of things together, particularly on the likelihood that Trump is helping with the cover-up:

Read the first paragraph of this report from Shane Harris in the Washington Post and think about it for a moment:
The Trump administration and the Saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi — one that will avoid implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is among the president’s closest foreign allies, according to analysts and officials in multiple countries.
I assume that is based on information from reliable sources. And what it says is truly shocking: The White House is conspiring with the Saudi government to cover up a murder.

Let's get one thing straight: Trump doesn't care about America or anything like it. He cares about covering his butt. Period.

And I just ran across this post from Tom Sullivan, who starts off agreeing with my last point:

First and foremost, Donald Trump looks out for Donald Trump. His only friends are those who increase his wealth, flatter his ego, or cover his backside. World condemnation of the Saudis over the suspected death and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi? Our sitting president views that through the lens of Trump. How does it hurt the Trump Organization? What other Gulf States hotel deals dance in his head? Haven't the very rich Saudis said nice things about him? Saudi Arabia has "been a great ally to me," Trump told Fox Business Network.
'Nuff said?

Did Anyone Not See This Coming?

For years, gay activists have been predicting that the "religious freedom" argument will be used not only against gays, but against Jews, Muslims, etc. Well, guess what:

South Carolina is lobbying on behalf of a Christian foster care agency to allow them to deny Jewish parents on the basis of faith.
The Intercept reported that the Trump administration is currently considering whether the Miracle Hill Ministries social services agency can continue receiving federal funds while “recruiting Christian foster families.”

South Carolina and Miracle Hill have argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — a law typically used in cases of Christian business owners who wish to deny services to LGBTQ people — “should not force a Protestant group to work with Jewish people if it violates a tenet of their faith,” the report noted.

The case revolves around Beth Lesser, a Jewish woman who was turned away by Miracle Hill after attending a three-day foster parent training. On the third day, two officials running the training (including one Miracle Hill representative) told the parents they would not be able to mentor or foster children if they weren’t Protestants.

The delicious irony here is that Lesser is a Trump supporter.

Climate Change? Well, Maybe

I was going to make this a "Saturday Science" post, but it's more about the politics than the actual science. Now that the UN has issued a rather earth-shaking report on the effects of climate change and the speed with which they are happening, the Trump regime is . . . well, the consensus there seems be be "Report? What report?":

On Oct. 6, United Nations policy makers approved a report presenting a “dire” picture of the coming changes to the planet, including the extinction of coral reefs, spikes in extreme weather events like hurricanes or drought, and widespread food and water shortages that would multiply the risks of mass migration, political instability, and global war.

The report warned that the effects of global climate change could become irreversible by 2040, and that preventing them would require an immediate global effort, “unprecedented in terms of scale.”

But in the nearly two weeks since the report’s release, the federal government has avoided the subject or declined to discuss it at length.

A spokesperson from the New York headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told The Daily Beast that she was unaware of the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “What report?” she asked. “I haven’t heard of it.”

At least the Ignoramus in Chief is willing to admit that it might be happening:

When Trump visited Florida just days before it would face Michael, a storm even climate skeptic Rick Scott called “the worst hurricane the Florida panhandle has ever seen,” the president said only that he was aware of the IPCC’s publication.

“It was given to me,” he said, before noting that he wanted to look at “who drew it.” Later, Trump told journalist Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes that, although he would no longer deny climate change, he was not sure whether it was caused by human activity, and that it could “go back” on its own. When Stahl disagreed, Trump added: “You’d have to show me the scientists. Because they have a very big political agenda. Scientists also have a political agenda.”

While leaving himself an out -- I wonder when he's going to start calling climate scientists "enemies of the people".

Read the whole thing for a really grim picture of how Trump and his minions have gotten rid of anyone in the administration who might know what they're talking about.

Via Towleroad.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Today's Must-Read: How To Get Rich Without Really Trying

This piece, from Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, is a good examination of how Trump really made his money:

"What, exactly, is Donald Trump’s business?" asks The New Yorker's Adam Davidson. The Trump Organization seems to have been in and out of so many unrelated ventures and manages to profit even as the projects themselves fail. Middle-class housing, luxury housing, casinos, licensing agreements. All require different business models and skill sets. So what is it Trump really does?

"It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools," Davidson writes, "the Trump Organization’s core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud."

I knew that his first few projects were on this model: plan a project, get investors and lenders, funnel the money into your own companies, and then declare bankruptcy, leaving the investors and lenders holding the bag. It looks like that's actually been his method across the board.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Today in "Christian" Values

From none other than Pat Robertson:

Christian evangelist Pat Robertson thinks the apparent assassination of an American journalist by Saudi Arabia isn’t worth jeopardizing “$100 billion worth of arms sales” with the terrorist-friendly nation.

On The 700 Club this week, Robertson called attention to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Khashoggi was reportedly killed, beheaded, and dismembered by Saudi agents, but Robertson is worried about the possibility of a deteriorating relationship with Saudi Arabia… because gun deals. . . .

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

It's no wonder he supports Trump -- they think alike.

I'm Speechless

What have we become when a policeman deserves praise for not killing a couple of black kids?

A white police officer who decided not to shoot a black child who was holding a toy BB pistol was praised on CNN on Wednesday for not killing his suspect.

CNN host Brooke Baldwin began the segment by reminding her viewers that 12-year-old Tamir Rice had been shot and killed by officers in 2014.

She contrast that with her guest, Columbus Police officer Peter Casuccio, who said he went into “dad mode” when he saw two black boys — ages 11 and 13 — playing with what looked like a real gun. Instead of using deadly force on the children, Casuccio decided to talk to them instead.

Granted, any kid should know at this point not to be playing with toy guns that look real, especially not out on the streets. Of course, anyone with two brain cells to rub together should be just a little hesitant about assuming that a 12-year-old is playing with a real gun.

I guess police shooting minority kids has become so normalized that it's remarkable when one doesn't.



If you know cats, you know that there's no way this could have been staged.

With thanks to commenter BobSF_94117 at Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Blatant, Part II

If McConnell gets his way, they'll have to suppress Republican voters, too:

In an interview with Bloomberg News, McConnell said, "I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for all."

He added, "I mean, my gosh, we can’t sustain the Medicare we have at the rate we’re going and that’s the height of irresponsibility."

Translation: "entitlement" in GOP-speak means the social safety net programs that so many (not rich) people pay in to and depend on: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. As for not being able to sustain Medicare, that's bullshit. The fix for that is as easy as the fix for the imaginary shortfalls in Social Security: expand the program to include everyone, for Medicare; for Social Security, lift the cap on the payroll tax. And as for the deficit, which is the Republicans' other big excuse -- try not giving away everything to the 1% next time you "reform" taxes.

And McConnell is very much aware that he's playing with fire:

Shrinking those popular programs -- either by reducing benefits or raising the retirement age -- without a bipartisan deal would risk a political backlash in the next election.

So he wants Democrats to do the dirty work.

Let's face it, Republicans have been trying to get rid of Social Security for eighty years, and Medicare/Medicaid for fifty -- since those programs were created.

And don't forget: McConnell and all his accomplices in the House and Senate will retire with nice pensions and medical care -- which we will pay for.


Looks like they're not even trying to be subtle about vote suppression any more -- at least, in Georgia:

So, someone from the Leisure Senior Center told LaTosha Brown, founder of Black Voters Matter, that the roughly 40 seniors would need to get off the bus that was about to take them to the polls. Black Voters Matter, if you haven't guessed, is a grassroots outreach program whose goal is to help Black people "expand voter engagement." Can't have that in 2018, now can we?

Apparently someone from the Senior Center said they'd received a call about a complaint either to or from (these details are fuzzy) the County Commissioner's office about the Black Voters Matter bus, and whether or not it should be allowed to transport the seniors to the polling place. Now, keep in mind, there is no law against any bus, from transporting people to the polls in Georgia. But not wanting to make trouble in the small town, they complied.

So, the bus they'd organized, for which they'd gotten permission ahead of time to bring, already boarded with senior citizens, was unloaded. Even worse, the Senior Center had their own bus they'd arranged to transport the seniors to the polls, but they cancelled that bus in the midst of everything, too. So there was no voting for these senior citizens yesterday.

The horrible part is that the people who organized the bus were so cooperative. I suspect, if I were in that situation, whoever wanted me to take the seniors off the bus would have gotten a big "F You" for their trouble.

I don't know that I really need to add anything, except to note that no one at the County Commissioner's Office seems to know anything about a complaint about Black seniors voting. They did, however, come out with a statement, which in itself is a hoot:

October 15, 2018

For Immediate Release:

Jefferson County operates a Senior Center that provides meals and entertainment to senior citizens in Jefferson County three days per week. The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners has a long standing practice of not allowing political activities during normal business hours or at County sponsored activities. These senior citizens are under the complete care and supervision of Jefferson County while they are at the Senior Center. Jefferson County Administration felt uncomfortable with allowing Senior Center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party. Additionally, the event in question that took place at the Jefferson County Senior Center was led by the President of the Jefferson County Democratic Party and as such was considered a political event. No seniors at the Jefferson County Senior Center were denied their right to vote. In fact, Senior Center staff routinely arrange Jefferson County Public Transit to transport senior citizens to vote. Jefferson County invites and encourages all registered voters to vote from October 15-November 2 from 8 AM to 5 PM, October 27 from 9 AM to 4 PM and on election day November 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

I can't even highlight the most risible parts -- there are too many.

I guess this is what we can look forward to for this election -- except I think most places will be a little bit more subtle about it.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Trump's America: Waiting While Black

This one is really a prize-winner:

A Wisconsin woman showed up early one morning for a job interview when a police cruiser smashed into her vehicle and officers jumped out with guns drawn.

Robin Anderson said she feared for her life as officers ordered her to crawl over broken glass and out of her car, and then handcuffed her, reported the Journal Sentinel.

This is the prize part:

Glendale police later blamed the incident on a case of mistaken identity, and the department apologized to Anderson’s father and paid to replace her broken window, but not the dents in her car. . . .

Anderson had arrived early for her job interview, and the restaurant’s doors were still locked.

Police were looking for four black men suspected in a string of robberies at cell phone stores in the area, and they were allegedly driving a Hyundai Elantra — a different model than Anderson’s car.

Officers also had a specific license plate number, which did not match Anderson’s, and no women were believed to be with the suspects.

Well, they all look alike. . . .

Monday, October 15, 2018

For Some Reason

The sidebars have been crammed into the bottom of the page today. When I go in to check the layout, it's right, but not when I view the blog.

*sigh* Google strikes again.

It's Monday

Do you know where your weekend went?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Review: Bernd Heinrich: Mind of the Raven

Another Epinions piece that almost went down the memory hole. (I just spent ten minutes looking for one that did. Grr. . . .) At any rate, in case you were wondering about ravens, here you are.

Bernd Heinrich is a researcher and professor of biology at the University of Vermont. He is also the author of several books, including Bumblebee Economics, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and is a winner of the John Burroughs Medal for Natural History Writing. In his Preface to Mind of the Raven he recounts the origins of his focus on ravens and their behavior – for those who know and enjoy the raven's place in mythology and folklore, it seems only fitting that it started with a dream.

Among the questions Heinrich posed for himself was one that is very basic and not strictly scientific: why is the raven, of all birds, credited with being extraordinarily intelligent and, in many respects, almost human? Heinrich's studies over the next few years focused on the social life of the raven: mating, family life, group behavior, dominance patterns, communication (a very rich area), and a host of other areas and sub-areas. Heinrich has supplemented his own research, from studies carried out in Maine and Vermont, with information from other researchers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The result is a fascinating picture of a remarkable bird.

Ravens, like other members of the crow family, are opportunistic feeders, largely scavengers (although Heinrich cites observations of ravens trout-fishing in Yellowstone Park, which I have done myself, although not quite the way they did it). Foraging and food-sharing lead to complex social behaviors, in that, while ravens are largely solitary, there exist associational networks among ravens that determine who will be allowed to share a find and when. There are also observations of ravens flushing game for other predators and then attempting to steal the kill – they come by the "thief" epithet honestly, it would seem.

As one might expect, communication is highly developed, and apparently has some fluidity. They also play. Ravens exhibit complex behaviors, such as caching food, defending caches, deception, and raiding other ravens' caches, that necessarily demand some learning and some freedom of action. Heinrich includes comments on these activities as well as a chapter entitled "Morality, Tolerance, and Cooperation" which includes his observations on how tolerance develops between a group of ravens and a newcomer.

While his approach to his subject leaves Heinrich scope for philosophical rumination, he does take off from hard fact. Although he does not bring in the raven's role in folklore to any great extent, one can easily see how its reputation was earned – thief, trickster, fighter – it's easy to see how a raven's croak could be taken for an omen.

There are places where I would have preferred less rumination and more fact, although the wealth of information itself can give the reader pause. On the whole, for anyone interested in ravens and their behavior, it is a valuable book, although not one that makes an easily used reference.

(HarperCollins, 2007)

This Week at Green Man Review

Something autumnal, a couple of heads-up for Halloween, and just regular good stuff.

Somehow, there's no extended headline this week, so just pop on over and see for yourself what's up.


From Digby; just a sample:

And If They Can't Win Elections Fairly

They'll rig them. From Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo. Key quote:

If they cannot win democratically, Republicans "will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy," David Frum wrote in the Atlantic. But they will hold onto the trappings of democracy so long as they lend them a modicum of public legitimacy. Until like boasting about principles and morality, they no longer care about keeping up pretenses.

Republicans control more than half of state legislatures. How fair do you think those elections are going to be?

Today's Must-Read: Proud of What?

I missed reports on this little event:

Think Progress reports:
The Proud Boys took Manhattan Friday night, attending a lecture by their founder, Gavin McInnes, at the Metropolitan Republican Club of New York City.

Following the event, the white nationalist group took to the streets, brutally beating and kicking several individuals while shouting “faggot” and “cocksucker,” reportedly because one of them stole one of their MAGA hats. Fox News responded by only reporting on anti-fascist vandalism that had taken place at the venue, while continuing to portray Democrats as the real angry mobs.

There's a fairly detailed analysis of what makes these assholes tick, especially the men of color who are part of this white supremacist movement (and if you think that's an oxymoron, you're not alone). What it boils down to is "male rage". I guess they're just not men enough to deal with it like adults.

Two things that are more than a little sobering. First, the police:

Several people have pointed out that the police appeared to protect the Proud Boys in these altercations. Indeed, Rebecca Kavanaugh, senior staff attorney for The Legal Aid Society, confirmed on Twitter that three arrests were made, but all three were anti-racist protesters — none of them members of the Proud Boys.

Local police forces in this country already suffer from a reputation that is -- how shall I put it? -- tarnished? Things like this don't help.

And then there's the "leftist media":

As Huffington Post National Reporter Christopher Mathias pointed out, U.S. media would describe the Proud Boys’ behavior as a fascist gang in any other country, but somehow their extremism continues to be downplayed.

I wish the Republicans had waited a few years to destroy the country, after I was safely dead. Is New Zealand far enough away, do you think?

Video at the link, if your stomach can handle it.

It's All About Her

It turns out that Melania Trump is just as tone deaf as her husband:

The First Lady shocked many last June when she wore the boldly printed jacket as she visited a Texas holding center where undocumented children were temporarily placed after being separated from their parents.

Many interpreted the jacket as insensitive considering the outrage over her husband’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies.

Initially, the First Lady’s spokespeople said there was no message behind the jacket, but Melania revealed to ABC’s Tom Llamas, during an hour special “Being Melania- The First Lady” that aired Friday, that it was a direct message to her left-wing critics.

Somepone should explain to her the concept of "context". And I just noticed how she's dressed in her safari outfit for the interview. How raj of her.

Digby gets it, even if the First Plaything doesn't:

I'm pretty sure she's being honest about wearing that jacket. It's just that she and her staff are so mind-crushingly stupid that they didn't realize that wearing it to a detention center where her husband's government was holding children who had been forcibly removed from their parents would send a different message.

That's Trumpism. Owning the libs is truly their only motivation in life and it crowds out even the slightest bit of common sense.

Footnote: They make a perfect couple:

Note: If you're not getting the videos of Trump's interview and the one on Rupar's tweet, you can see them at the links. For some reason, they show up when I preview the post, but not when I publish it. Blogger strikes again. They show up fine on Microsoft Edge, so it's Chrome that's at fault.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Today in Trump's America: Singing While Mexican

I think the most telling part of this story is a comment near the end, but first, the beginning:

“As we started we watched lots of videos of gay choruses,” Oscar Urtusástegui, Board President and founding member of Coro Gay Ciudad de México, told the Los Angeles Blade about the origins of the joint concert, “and the one we most wanted to be like was GMCLA. For a 5-year-old organization such as ours, sharing the stage with such a prestigious organization is an honor, and at the same time makes the friendship much stronger between us.”

Both he and GMCLA executive director Jonathan Weedman want their collaboration “to show that building bridges – between two choruses, two cities and two countries – only makes us stronger and more powerful,” Urtusástegui said.

But their plans were almost ruined by the knee-jerk ignorance of profiling racism espoused by President Donald Trump. As members of Coro Gay Ciudad de México traveled through customs and immigration at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston on their way to Los Angeles Sunday morning. Oct. 7, they were detained by Homeland Security after an officer found sheet music in their luggage—despite having their airfare underwritten by GMCLA sponsor Southwest Airlines.

It really starts to look like the "security" officers were looking for an excuse.

The really sobering part:

“We are very glad that our brothers and sisters from Mexico City Gay Men’s Chorus all arrived safely late last night, after their experience being detained in Houston by the Department of Homeland Security,” Weedman tells the Los Angeles Blade. “We have had this trip planned for over a year, all had been granted US Visas and this came as a great shock. But given the serious deterioration of United States and Mexico relations under the Trump administration and the President’s endless offensive comments about the Mexican people—coupled with the appalling and inhuman treatment of people seeking asylum at the US-Mexican border—I can’t help but think they were singled out.”

Yes, we've arrived at the point where no one expects better. And people used to admire America.

Footnote: There's one commenter at the article who insists that this was all routine and that the Chorus owes the security guards an apology.