"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

Friday, June 30, 2017

Blogger Strikes Again

For some reason, Blogger has rearranged the layout of the front page here, and won't let me correct it.

I'm sure it will eventually sort itself out. Probably. Maybe.

Germany Joins the Club

Same-sex marriage is about to become the law in Germany:

The German parliament, or Bundestag, on Friday passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in a snap vote that made it onto the agenda before the summer break after a surprise shift by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The bill passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Merkel herself voted against the bill, although her comments helped bring it about.

That's a rather lopsided vote, but considering that public opinions polls in Germany have been showing 70-80% support, not as lopsided as it could have been.

It still has to pass the Senate, but that's considered to be a slam dunk. Of course, there will be challenges through the courts.

And, an update on worldwide status:

Note one inaccuracy in the map: Finland's law legalizing same-sex marriage went into effect in late February.

Via Joe.My.God.

Yeah, Right

I'll believe this when I see it happening:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has countered concerns from civil rights groups and fellow lawmakers, vowing to aggressively pursue hate crimes against transgender victims.

In 2010, Sessions voted against a law that expanded federal hate crimes protections to sexual orientation, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that local prosecutors were failing to pursue such cases.

Speaking at a Justice Department hate crimes summit in Washington yesterday, Sessions said “we have a responsibility to protect people’s freedom, their religious rights, their integrity, their ability to express themselves, to push back against violence and hate crimes that occur in our country.”

He note specifically the duty to “enforce hate crime laws aggressively and appropriately where transgendered individuals are victims.”

Most of what we're getting from this regime is mixed signals. I'm taking Sessions' statement with a large helping of salt, particularly since Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, has rolled back LGBT, and specifically transgender, protections -- although there was apparently some pressure on that from -- Jeff Sessions.

Like I say, we'll see what actually happens.

Waiting for a Presidential Tweet

Presented without comment, from Media Matters:

From the June 29 edition of Genesis Communications Network’s The Alex Jones Show:

ROBERT DAVID STEELE: This may strike your listeners as way out but we actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20 year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony. There’s all kinds of --

ALEX JONES (HOST): Look, I know that 90 percent of the NASA missions are secret and I’ve been told by high level NASA engineers that you have no idea, there is so much stuff going on. But then it goes off into all that, that’s the kind of thing media jumps on. But I know this: we see a bunch of mechanical wreckage on Mars and people say, “Oh look, it looks like mechanics.” They go, “Oh, you’re a conspiracy theorist.” Clearly they don’t want us looking into what is happening. Every time probes go over they turn them off.

Alex Jones is, after all, one of the Hairpiece's major news sources.

Via Joe.My.God.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Today's Must-Read: Understanding Fly-Over Country

This, from RawStory, points out, I think, a basic flaw in all the analyses of Trump's base -- and the Republican base in general:

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is still being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out.

One aspect of this that the author points out is that, unless you are one of them, they're not going to listen to anything you say that disputes what they already believe. There is a deep distrust of "outsiders" at play here -- I've run into samples of it while visiting family in the North Carolina hills: if you're not in some way connected, you're suspect.

It's longish, but it's worth reading in full.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Antidote: Pride Edition

Given the resounding silence of the Trump White House on Pride Month ("Great Outdoors Month"? What, "Shoot an endangered species near you"?), I thought this was worthy of note:

Huge Fat Loser
June 25 at 6:45am

I'll be out there working at Pridefest today wearing this shirt under my uniform for a lot of reasons.
For my step brother.
For my priest.
For my aunts who died before they could be legally married.
For my cousin.
For all of the cops I have worked with over the years, including one of the best partner's I've ever shared a sector car with.
For my classmate in High School who's parents made him sleep in a tent in his yard.
For the man who cried on my shoulder about losing his partner on 9/11.
For every call I went to where someone got kicked out of their house or who's family just didn't understand.
For anyone who's had to hide who they are.
I've got your back.
Love is Love.
#loveislove #pride #pride🌈 #prideparade #nypd #igotyou #freehugs

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trumpcare: Die Quickly (Update:

Via Digby, this: Trumpcare, in the Senate version, cuts Medicaid by 25%. This is what that means for real people:

Digby nails it:

People, we are an incredibly wealthy country. We don't have to deny heath care to our most vulnerable citizens. We don't have to deny it to anyone. We have the money. We are just being run by radical zombies who have only one thought in their minds as they rampage through the country: tax cuts for Ivanka. It's their only purpose in life.

That's it -- the whole health care "repeal and replace Obamacare" scam is just another way to put more money in the offshore accounts of the super-rich.

Sidebar: I can't help but consider that this reflects another facet of the "alt-right", white supremacist, neo-fascist thinking of today's Republican party: anyone who needs these services is, by definition, inferior. Better, to their way of thinking, if they were just disposed of.

Update: And, from the Dominionist in Chief:

Because we've all seen how well that has worked in the past. In other words, "You're on your own, you working-class suckers!"

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Is Pride Day in Chicago -- the day of the Parade. That means that the North Side, from about Armitage to Wilson and east of Damen, is going to be a wee bit crowded. (Well, with a million visitors crammed into that space, what do you expect?)

And of course, as always, it's clear and bright because it never rains on our parade.

A few shots of Prides past:

Image result for pride parade chicago

It's all about color and motion and celebration -- it's a happy thing. And it's a family event -- people bring their kids to watch the dancers and the balloons and the streamers and the excitement.

I started attending the Parade, if not right at the beginning, very soon thereafter. The route was somewhat shorter, the Parade was much smaller, and the crowds were nowhere near what they are today. I've marched -- at first, it was spontaneous: the last float went by, I looked at my friends, they looked at me, and we just joined the Parade -- I've ridden floats, and I've watched from the sidelines.

These days, the idea of watching the Parade with a million of my closest friends is a bit more than I can deal with -- I'm not good with crowds. So I will most likely find a bus that will leave me somewhere in the park and watch the kids wearing rainbows when the Parade is over. That's something that makes me happy: the kids get very involved. That's a good thing.

What's New at Green Man Review

Yep, it's that time of the week again, and some wonderful stuff is up at GMR -- very summerish. Take a look.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Antidote: The Ultimate Go-Go Boy

It's the simple pleasures that are best:

Via AmericaBlog.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Resistance: One Chicago

I've been seeing these posters on bus shelters around town, from One Chicago. Strangely enough, I can't find images of them online -- this must be a very new part of the campaign, which was launched in late May. Hah! Found one, which is one I haven't seen yet:

The ones I've seen read "100% Mexican, 100% Chicagoan" and "100% Somalian, 100% Chicagoan." Considering the ethnic makeup of my neighborhood, which is about as mixed as it gets, that's not so strange.

At any rate, Chicago is not about to put up with Trump's inflammatory immigration rhetoric or his policies. From WLS:

The city's "One Chicago" campaign kicked off Sunday at the DuSable Museum of African American History as part of Chicago's sanctuary city role.

There is a PSA and a website which explains "One Chicago" was established in response to the emerging needs of Chicago's immigrant and refugee communities most affected by recent federal policies. The slogan of the campaign is, "Three million residents, three million stories, one Chicago."

U.S. immigration arrests are up nearly 40 percent from January to April under President Donald Trump compared to the same time last year, according to the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director.

President Trump has threatened to cut off federal funding to so-called "sanctuary cities," but so far, a federal judge has blocked that executive order. And now cities, like Chicago, are sending a direct message to their residents, you are home here.

Take that, you racist asshole.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Special Elections: An Update

This, via Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice, has the right take:

Process is not just something that Mitch McConnell fucks with to suit his purposes. Process is what history is. We're in the middle of the process.

You don't turn a country around in a few months. Look how long it took the Republicans to turn the country into a plutocracy.

Today's Must-Read: Military Justice

If you or anyone you know is thinking of joining the Air Force -- or any branch of the military -- think again:

At the end of the week, Mario Manago, 33, will be out of the Air Force after 12 years.

But he's not just out of a job -- he's now a felon.

His crime? Being six minutes late to a meeting.

Manago, of Willingboro, was convicted at court-martial March 9 of failing to go to his "appointed place of duty." He was late to a meeting he requested with his commander to discuss his concerns that he was being treated unfairly by his supervisors at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Burlington County, according to him and his attorney.

You might well ask "Why was he late?"

He got a meeting with his commander, Lt. Col. Eric B. Quidley, to discuss his concerns that he was being targeted. But that morning, he was told he couldn't leave his post on the base because things were too busy. He called to reschedule the meeting, but was told he could not.

This is sort of like having the police department investigate charges of police misconduct.

His commanding officer will probably get a promotion.


Completely forgot (well, not completely, just when I was sitting in front of the computer): Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Here's a video taken at Stonehenge:

Relive the summer solstice, as we welcome in the longest day of the year at Stonehenge with sunset on 20 June and sunrise on 21 June, 2017.

Happy Litha, everybody!

Over the Edge

Presented without comment:

Conspiracy theorist broadcaster Alex Jones alleged on his radio program today that liberals are inciting violence and leading the U.S. into a civil war.

Jones claimed, absurdly, that liberals are advocating on “every publication outlet they own” for people to “kill the president, kill his family and kill his supporters.” The result, according to Jones, is that “people are getting beat up in the head with clubs, with bike locks, they’re getting stabbed. It’s happening everywhere. The Islamicists know it’s their time.”

Without referencing any specific events, Jones described what he interprets as signs of the impending war: “Communists here in Austin openly attacking our camera crew and our reporters, and having semiautomatic rifles with their fingers on the triggers. I mean, they are ready to go. They are ready to bring in the civil emergency.”

He then warned “our military, our police, and our citizenry” against acting “like cowards during the civil emergency” and instead encouraged them to “offensively in a defensive move, politically get back in their faces and also defend ourselves from physical attacks.” Otherwise, Jones said, the left will “intimidate the nation into a new dark age.”

“I’m encouraging people to hold the line, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, and not strike out offensively because it’s politically hurting the left,” Jones added. “But if they launch a full offensive, then we’ve got to really launch back physically.”

I mean, what can I say?

Via Joe.My.God. Video at the link.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Georgia 6th

Well, Karen Handel, who has got to be one of the least appealing candidates in modern election history, won -- by about 5 points. There's been a lot of wailing and rending of garments on the left -- sure, it would have been stupendous if Ossof had taken the seat, but what's not being looked at by a lot of people is the actual numbers. Josh Marshall has what I think in the right perspective on this one:

All this being said, this is a heavily Republican district and Republicans just barely held on to the seat. Yes, nbspDemocrats gave it everything they had, with small donors from around the country pouring money into the race. But Republican SuperPacs poured millions into the race too. In the last three elections, Tom Price won this seat by 65%, 66% and 62%. A significant part of those almost 2 to 1 margins was due to the fact that Democrats fielded only nominal candidates who raised little or no money. But these are chicken and egg type questions. It is precisely because this is a strongly Republican district that Price drew no serious contenders. A better measure are the recent presidential results. There John McCain won the district by 62% and Mitt Romney won it by 61%. To use yet another measure, 538 rates it a +9.5 Republican district, which means it’s 9.5 percentage points more GOP than the country as a whole.

Democrats have lost five special elections to fill seats left vacant by Trump's cabinet appointments -- but they have lost by narrow margins. As Marshall points out, these were all "safe" Republican seats. They're not so safe any more.

Which all boils down to one thing: the GOP is going to have a fight on its hands in 2018. Can the Democrats take back Congress? Frankly, I doubt it, although the Senate might be a possibility. (Don't forget how heavily the Republicans in state legislatures have gerrymandered congressional districts to dilute minority/Democratic votes.) There might be some surprises, and a lot is going to depend on how horrible the Republicans' secret health care "reform" turns out to be -- and how smart the Democrats are about using that.

It's going to be issues like health care, jobs, and national security that are going to be key. Harping on how Trump and the Republicans are destroying American democracy isn't going to cut it: most people are very confident in the strength of our system, and Republicans don't think much of democracy to begin with.

And don't think Republican strategists aren't very aware of how their base is being eroded. They'll go low, because that's all they have. (And I can't quite shake the feeling that the press will fall in line.)

It's going to be an interesting couple of years.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Antidote: A Coming Out Story

I don't usually remark on this kind of story, but this one is exceptional:

I also decided that it was then time to officially come out to everyone at school. I remember the first teacher I told was my biology teacher, Mrs. Broomas. We had a sex-ed quiz and one of the questions asked, "How could you prevent getting a girl pregnant while having intercourse?" My reply was, "I'm GAY so I don't have to worry about that.”

As she got to my paper she broke out laughing and just smiled at me. She then asked if she could read it to the class, and with confidence I told her she could. When she did, all the kids laughed and gave me a hug afterward and told me no matter what that they would always be my friends and still support me.

It's worth reading the whole thing.

(Via RawStory.)

Today in Disgusting People: Rhetoric (Update)

There've been too many disgusting people in the news lately to single any one of them out. Here's a brief list:

Let's start with Erick Erickson:

"There is only a one way street and the crowd that demands tolerance only wants tolerance for themselves. All others must be silenced," Erickson writes. "The political left is becoming the American ISIS."

He also throws in the required Nazi comparison.

And then there's "Coach" Dave Daubenmire, addressing more moderate (i.e., real) Christians:

"Don’t you understand what’s going on? Don’t you know it’s a war? Don’t you know they want your children? Don’t you know they’re occupying your pulpits? Don’t you understand that those same people singing ‘Jesus loves you this I know’ want to kill us?”

Then there's Pastor-Governor Mike Huckabee (who doesn't know the difference between the two):

Appearing on Fox & Friends this morning, the ex-Republican presidential candidate tied in James Hodgkinson’s shooting spree that left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in critical condition to a leftist movement.

“This is a bigger issue,” Huckabee said. “This is an attempt to overthrow the elected government. And I don’t want people to lose sight of the fact that what we’re seeing is not necessarily an organized attempt but a widespread attempt by people who hate the results of the election. Who want to overturn it not by another election, but by violent means. By any means possible!”

The one-time Fox News host, whose daughter works for the Trump administration, went on to say that this is a much greater threat to America’s democracy than anything Russia has attempted to do.

That's just skimming the top -- or the bottom -- over the past couple of days. Two observations: these are characters who used to be on the fringes of the right; they're now being mainstreamed by the alt-right and the Trump cheerleaders at Fox (well, OK, the "independent" press in general).

Second, they're prime examples of pure projection. The overwhelming majority of incidents of political violence in the past few years have come from the right. But then, "conservatives" have all bought in to "alternative facts."

What's worrisome is the degree to which the rhetoric has ramped up: they're doing nothing more than normalizing politically motivated violence, and the rest of us will pay the price.

Update:And of course, Republicans are building on this foundation:

Coming Attractions

I've missed the last few movies wanted to see (or thought I wanted to see), as much through inertia as for any other reason. This one looks like something I'll make the effort for:

Making waves at this year's Sundance Film Festival was God's Own Country, a small but perfectly formed British indie from debut feature director Francis Lee, telling the story of a rural romance that dare not speak its name in the rolling West Yorkshire countryside. . . .

It's been described – a little lazily, you might argue – as "Brokeback Mountain set in Yorkshire". But it's a comparison that Lee, speaking to Empire for the current issue (on sale now), appreciates. " I love Brokeback Mountain," Lee says. "The comparison feels like an honour, but they are very different. Brokeback is of a particular time and place – its two central characters can't be together because of society's attitudes. In God's Own Country, it's all to do with the central character's inability to open up."

That central character is Johnny Saxby (Josh O'Connor), a young farmer in West Yorkshire, who is joined on the farm by Romanian worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) when Johnny's father suffers a stroke. As they work together, early hostility gives way to something physical.

I'll confess that trailers, as often as not, turn me off to the film. I'll withhold judgment on this one, though.

September 1 release.

(Via Towleroad.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

GIggle du Jour

I just had to laugh at this one:

Metropolitan Kornily, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Old Believer Church (RPSC), a friend of Vladimir Putin, urged Russian men to stop shaving to “protect themselves from homosexuality,” the Moscow Times reports:

Metropolitan Kornily, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Old Believer Church (RPSC), said that men with beards were less likely “corrupted” by same-sex relationships.

“God set down certain rules. The Lord created everyone with a beard. No man can resist his creator,” Kornily told Russia’s National News Service. “It’s made a monstrous thing to see men’s clothing and hairstyles changing.”

This guy should walk down Halsted Street on any evening if he wants men with beards.

How Trump Got Elected, #432

Because his supporters are idiots.

You've no doubt heard or read about the two trumpanzees who disrupted a performance of Shaekspeare's Julius Caesar by the New York Public Theater that depicted Caesar as -- well, he looks a lot like Trump. (Here's a bit of background on the attention-starved miscreants.)

And here's Raw Story with commentary on the reactions:

According to the Boston Globe, theater companies across the country that perform Shakespeare are getting death threats over a New York Public Theater play in Central Park that depicts the death of Ceasar — but who looks like President Donald Trump.

The senders of these death threats are “outraged over the Public Theater’s controversial staging” of Shakespeare’s “Caesar” that features the infamous stabbing scene with a character inspired by Trump — but they appear to have gotten the locations a little off.

One such theater is Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts, who have been “inundated with a flood of venomous e-mails, phone messages, and social media posts condemning them for the Central Park production.”

One sender told the management of the Lenox theater that they wish “the worst possible life you could have and hope you all get sick and die.” Another told them their “play depicting the murder of our President is nothing but pure hatred.”

The Lenox Shakespeare company is far from the only Shakespeare-performing theater who’ve gotten these kinds of threats. Raphael Parry, the director of Shakespeare Dallas in Texas, told the Globe that his theater “has received about 80 messages, including threats of rape, death, and wishes that the theater’s staff is ‘sent to ISIS to be killed with real knives.'” Theaters in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere in New York said they’ve received threats as well.

So these idiots look up "Shakespeare in the Park" on the Internet and call the first company that comes up on the list. These are people who voted based on slogans. Nasty slogans.

The directors quoted have some interesting theories as to why this is happening, but I have a slightly different take: these are the people who voted for Trump because they feel powerless. Well, there, they've done something, so they don't feel quite so powerless any more.

Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans are working behind closed doors to take away their health insurance.

(I wonder if Chicago's resident Shakespeare company has gotten any calls.)

Now Playing

Kronos Quartet performing Terry Riley's Salome Dances for Peace.

It's a Terry Riley sort of morning.

Couldn't find a live performance video, so this will have to do:

(I may do this periodically, just to give you an idea of the weird and not-so-weird stuff I listen to while I'm surfing in the morning.)

Thought For the Day

From Tom Levenson, at Balloon Juice:

One last thought: I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman. He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections. They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work. DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives. Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

Yeah. What he said.

Most people, at least most people who vote instead of staying home and pouting, don't know from policy: it's too complicated. The Democrats need to translate policy positions into everyday life. If the Democrats can just get their shit together and keep harping on this, especially in state and local elections, we ("we" being the vast majority of the American people) can start taking back the government.

(Read Levenson's whole post -- about education, student loans, the obscenity that is Betsy DeVos, etc.)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What's New at Green Man Review

It's Sunday again, and more reviews -- this week wound up being heavy on the Hungarian -- take a look to see what I mean.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today's Must-Read: Doing It Right

An illuminating article on parents dealing with a transgender child and doing the right thing -- and working very hard to figure out what that is:

It was early still, not much past 6 a.m., and James Kaplan was already dressed for the first day of third grade. The night before, his mom, Sara, pulled out the iron and he helped press the wrinkles out of his light blue polo. “My first time ironing,” he said. For the past month, he’d been pushing his parents to let him wear a suit to school. James, whose ninth birthday was a couple of months away, thought it was a sharp look.

But after some back and forth, they’d settled on the polo, khaki cargo shorts and the dark blue chambray tie that Sara was now fitting over his head. Charley, James’ 4-year-old brother, still in his pajamas, pointed at him. “Handsome, James. Handsome.” James collapsed on the couch, staring through the windows at the brightening September sky.

“How you feelin’?” James’ dad, Ben, called from the kitchen. “Nervous,” James said. “But excited.”

He wasn’t just thinking about his first day of third grade. He was thinking about the beginning of his first full school year as James.

Some eight months before, James had told his parents his “inner person was a boy.” The round-cheeked 8-year-old they’d always thought was their daughter was actually their son. It was something he’d been trying to tell them — something he’d been trying to understand for himself — for more than a year.

Sara and Ben considered themselves progressive, but they didn’t know the first thing about raising a transgender child. In the days that followed, they would talk to family, to friends and to their couples therapist. They would take James shopping for “boy clothes” and to get a “boy haircut.”

They had to get to know their first-born all over again. They loved him as they always had, but there was this sense that maybe they didn’t really know him. And, if they were being honest, he was different — lighter and smiling and more open.

The article goes into some depth, but it's a fascinating read. Do it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Culture Break: Annbjørg Lien: Kjempe-Jo

I keep messing up which day of the week it is. But then, it occurs to me that it doesn't really matter, most times.

At any rate, I decided to make Annbjørg Lien my playlist for this morning -- I seem to have more of her albums than I realized -- so I thought I'd share this little treat with you. From the description at YouTube:

Traditional tune, arr. by Annbjørg Lien and Bjørn Ole Rasch.
Annbjørg Lien plays hardingfele (Hardanger fiddle).
From the NRK program "Folk:LAB - live i studio", Dec. 2012.
The tune is released on the album "Come Home" (Annbjørg Lien & Bjørn Ole Rasch, 2009).

And of course, that's an album that I don't have.

Today's Must-Read: Shut Down the Pump!

From Digby, in the wake of another shooting*, a solid take on gun control laws and why we need them:

On 7 September 1854, Snow took his research to the town officials and convinced them to take the handle off the pump, making it impossible to draw water. The officials were reluctant to believe him, but took the handle off as a trial only to find the outbreak of cholera almost immediately trickled to a stop. Little by little, people who had left their homes and businesses in the Broad Street area out of fear of getting cholera began to return.

It took many more years before it was widely accepted that cholera came from the water. (In fact, it took a priest trying to prove that it was God's will to finally do it!)

But here's the relevant takeaway: they didn't need to cure the disease to end the epidemic. What ended it was shutting down the pump.
(Emphasis in original.)

Yes, it really is about gun control. Read it.

* The Republicans, of course, are blaming the Democrats' "violent rhetoric" for the shooting, which targeted a Republican congressman. I'm not going to list them -- they all fall under the category of disgusting people -- but all you need to do is surf a bit. The New Civil Rights Movement has several stories on this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Somebody's Been Turning Over Rocks

And guess what they found.

First, of course, is Old Reliable, Hate Group Leader Extraordaire, Mr. Mendacity himself:

The problem at the U.S. Embassy in Romania wasn’t that officials were saluting the flag. The problem was which flag they were saluting. In a tradition most Americans hoped was gone with President Obama, a handful of U.S. diplomats decided to fly the rainbow flag on par with the stars and stripes that millions have died defending.

The jarring sight in Guatemala, Cuba, Macedonia, the Dominican Republican, and other countries was just more evidence of the politically correct mess left behind by the last administration. Although President Trump refused to declare June LGBT pride month, plenty of Obama holdovers are taking matters into their own hands. Out of respect for the voters who rejected that extreme agenda, it’s time for administration officials to step in and put a stop to a display that puts a sexual fringe on the same pole as Old Glory.

As we all remember, The Hairpiece actually lost the election, even though he won the Electoral College -- an argument for getting rid of it if there ever was one: the Electoral College has given us the two worst presidents (in terms of general competence) since World War II. (Well, OK, the Supreme Court helped on one of them.)

And most Americans -- that is, the ones who believe in our country and what it stands for -- or used to stand for -- just wish Tony Perkins would shut up and go away. But then, these are the people Perkins considers "real Americans."

A side note: If Trump had made the requisite proclamation, among the seemingly dozens of others, it would have been hollow -- do we really want to be equated with "Great Outdoors Month"? (Not that I have anything against the great outdoors, at all.) And we don't need him: Here at home, the rainbow flags went up in Lakeview on May 31, along with the "Uptown Proud" banners in Uptown, and rainbows -- mostly flags, but some rather more creative -- are appearing in businesses and apartment windows all along the parade route, and other places as well. I don't doubt that it's the same in other cities.

And, for the icing on the cake, here's a voice from the far fringes of the "Christian" right:

In an audio commentary posted online last week, anti-LGBTQ activist Linda Harvey of Mission America called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “the outrageous actions of major homosexual groups trying to normalize this behavior throughout all of America.”

Such groups must be investigated, Harvey said, because they “continue to twist the truth, blatantly engage in religious discrimination, demand that people lose jobs and corrupt children.”

. . .

“I think we need special investigations into the actions of homosexual advocates at the state and federal level,” Harvey declared.

It seems that Donald Trump isn't the only one who has no idea how this country works. Or can we take it that Harvey is another one of those "patriots" who despise our foundational principles? (And she really should come with a laugh track.)

(For the record, Harvey and her husband are Mission America. He is also, apparently, the major funder. Take that for what it's worth.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Even the DOJ is living in an alternate universe under the Trump regime:

As The Hill reported, DOJ lawyers have sought to have the lawsuit thrown out, contending  “that the foreign emoluments clause doesn’t apply to ‘fair-market commercial transactions’ like payments for hotel rooms and golf club fees.’”

The DOJ further asserted that CREW, as well as other plaintiffs, “lack legal standing to bring the case against Trump,” citing that ‘Congress, not the court system, should determine whether Trump is in violation” of the clause our forefathers designed to protect the country.

“Neither the text nor the history of the Clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the DOJ contended in its 70-page legal brief.

First off, there is the matter of "fair market" transactions: can anyone (aside from Trump's lawyers) assert with a straight face that the buyers knowing that the facility belongs to the president of the United States has no effect on the market? (Remembering that membership fees to Mar-a-Lago doubled after the election.) Can you say "bullshit"?

I am sure, however, that they really want Congress to handle this. That's the best way to make sure nothing happens.

What's New at Green Man Review

It's Sunday again, and more reviews at GMR -- books, music, and even a troll. So check it out.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Science: Origins

A couple of articles that caught my attention this week, both about beginnings.

First, another note on that old conundrum, where did life originate?

Scientists believe that, along with the rest of our solar system, Earth arose from material left over after the Sun was formed. But how living organisms came about is a matter for debate. As Wired points out, one theory holds that life came about on Earth independently from the Sun, after the planet was formed. The other states that the ingredients of life were were formed in a solar nebula and then arrived on Earth via comets. "The detection of this molecule points toward the latter theory," Rafael Martín-Doménech, one of the leaders of Centro de Astrobiología, told Wired.

No one, to my knowledge, has made a case for this being an either/or question. I've already explored some of the possibilities, and while this finding adds support to the "it came from outer space" theory, it doesn't address the "it came from the deeps" theory. I, for one, see absolutely no reason why it couldn't have been both.

The other "origins" article hits a little closer to home: when and where did modern humans originate? It's not as recently as we had thought:

According to the textbooks, all humans living today descended from a population that lived in east Africa around 200,000 years ago. This is based on reliable evidence, including genetic analyses of people from around the globe and fossil finds from Ethiopia of human-like skeletal remains from 195,000–165,000 years ago.

Now a large scientific team that I was part of has discovered new fossil bones and stone tools that challenge this view. The new studies, published in Nature, push back the origins of our species by 100,000 years and suggest that early humans likely spanned across most of the African continent at the time.

Once again, we have a rather ambiguous question: the evidence from mitochondrial DNA is pretty definitive that we all descended from a small group of women living in East Africa about 200,000 years ago -- but that doesn't really address where and when the ancestors of those women originated.

It all comes down to asking the right questions.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Antidote: Doing It Right

Or maybe just doing the right thing. The video is self-explanatory, but grab a hankie:

Sunday, June 04, 2017

A Musical Interlude

Courtesy of Operatico Politico, via Joe.My.God.

In Other News

Donald Trump is

a) incompetent

b) an idiot

c) a national embarrassment

d) all of the above.

Sunday at Green Man Review

And it's all India, all the time -- some really fascinating stuff. Scoot on over and read.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Today's Must-Read: The GOP's Civil War

Digby has a good article that I think pretty much lays out where the Republican party is these days, and what it has become.

Generally speaking after an election loss the Democratic Party goes into a metaphorical circular firing squad and everybody simultaneously pulls the trigger. In common beltway parlance this is known as "Democrats in disarray" and the pundits spend many hours gleefully covering the tears and recriminations as the party tears itself apart.

This post election season has not disappointed. But all in all, it's actually been a fairly civil affair by comparison to previous years. The congressional caucuses are united in opposition to Trump and the Republicans and all signs point to a strong turn out in the mid-terms in 2018. So despite plenty of squabbling on social media, the usual internecine battles have been relatively subdued.

What is more interesting is that the Republican Party, which has everything --- the congress, the courts, the White House and a majority of state houses all over the country --- seems to be coming apart at the seams. This is, to say the least, unusual. But then it's also not usual that winning political parties elect intellectually inadequate, inexperienced, incompetent, narcissistic celebrities to lead them. It is causing more than a little distress at a time when the party should be in a position to enact a sweeping agenda.

This pretty much sums it up:

I'd love to see the results of that poll.

Today in "Real Christians"

This sort of beggars belief -- but it doesn't:

A woman charged with beating a fellow church member to “expel homosexual demons” has admitted to “starting” the mass assault in court.

Sarah Anderson is one of five people on trial for the assault on Matthew Fenner, who was beaten in his church.

30 people reportedly attacked Fenner in 2013 at the Word of Faith church in North Carolina.

Anderson has testified that she told others leaders in the church that she believed the man to be “unclean and sinful”.

After this, the minister of the church, Brooke Covington, allegedly started the two-hour long attack by screaming at Fenner and slapping him after a service.

This church sounds like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel:

The church, which was founded in 1979, has been exposed for having strict regulations and control over its members.

The Associated Press reported that the Protestant, non-denominal church had the deciding choice over who could marry who and which couples were allowed to have children.

Those who failed to obey the church faced “humiliating” or “physical” punishment.

The AP also revealed from a series of interview with former members that “sinners” regularly faced the same type of attack that Fenner faced with punching, choking and beating being an accepted way of “expelling demons”.

I have to wonder what kind of person willingly hands himself over to that kind of treatment -- I mean, the potential is always there, especially if you leave it up to someone else to decide whether you're "possessed."

And of course, they're claiming persecution -- because if you insist on a "real Christian" adhering to civilized modes of behavior, that's discrimination.

Friday, June 02, 2017

America First? Puh-leeze!

Well, he did it -- Trump has decided to pull out of the Paris Accord, but there are a lot of ifs -- it won't take effect until 2020, he wants to renegotiate the accord to get a "better deal," the usual bullshit. Needless to say, that's going nowhere.

One thing, however, that isn't getting much mention is a fairly substantial geo-political aspect of this move: For all his ballyhoo about "America first!", Trump is ceding American leadership of the free world, as we used to call it. China and Europe have already announced that they will work together to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Yep -- under Trump's leadership, America will be first -- in its own little universe.

Sidebar: As a history minor, I ran across instance after instance where old empires died and new ones took their place. I never thought I'd be living through it, but it seems to be the case: if the political/social scene here doesn't change soon, America will cease to be a factor in world politics.

If you're looking for the ultimate take-down of Trump's announcement, you can't do better than Charles P. Pierce:

It was appalling. It was condescending. It was awful content delivered by a dolt who wouldn't know the Paris Accords from a baguette without the shoddy talking points that someone put in front of him. For example, he read off a fanciful list of "consequences" for adhering to the Paris Accords down through the next decades. Afterwards, Ali Velshi, a welcome addition to the MSNBC cast of regulars, pointed out that the president* was reading from a debunked report that presumed in its analysis that the U.S. would fulfill every one of its agreed-upon conditions while no other participating country would fulfill any of theirs. This is not surprising. The president* would have read a commercial for hair-replacement if someone had put it in front of him.

(Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Thursday, June 01, 2017

America, Inc. (Update)

No, this is not about the plutocracy that's running the country, this is about the idea of a "businessman" (read "con artist and crook") being fit material for the presidency. Via Digby:

This is from a WSJ op-ed today by Economic adviser Gary Cohn and national Security adviser H.R. McMaster:

The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.

The world embraced that "elemental nature of international affairs" for several hundred years. It finally brought us two world wars and the very real possibility of annihilating civilization completely. It's thanks to cooperative agreements like NATO, and the willingness of both sides to negotiate, that we avoided that.

The sentiments expressed in the quote are about an equal mix of hard-nosed "businessman" and schoolyard bully. And there's nothing "clear-eyed" about the attitude: this is nothing but bullshit in support of a man who has no idea how the world works, whose "success" as a businessman is built on duping others into lining his pockets (which sounds a lot like the Republican party as now constituted) -- he's a liar and a cheat.


That's exactly what I meant when I said a zillion times during the campaign that when Trump talked about "America First" he means "We're number one!" The idea was never that America would withdraw behind its big beautiful border wall. It was that we don't need no stinking allies, we're kicking ass and taking names. Our way or the highway. That's Trump. That's his voters. And that's why the rest of the world is rapidly concluding that we have become so dangerous that they have to do something about us.

I suspect that, in spite of disavowals of isolationism, the rest of the world is going to find a way to isolate us. But there's going to be a lot of shooting first.

Update: The isolation doesn't have to be military:

Chinese and EU leaders are to agree a joint statement on the Paris climate agreement saying it is "an imperative more important than ever".

A draft of the document, seen by the BBC, stresses the "highest political commitment" to implement the deal.

It will be widely seen as a rebuff to the US, as President Trump prepares to announce on Thursday if the US is withdrawing from the accord.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.

And so it begins.