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

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Monday, December 28, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

"Boxing Day has come and gone!" -- Short and sweet, but that's only the header. Our usual eclectic mis fo tyhis, that and yet more, so scoot on over and enjoy.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

What' New at Green Man Review

We're back, with our usual eclectic mix of goodies:
An Appalachian Mystery, a Most Unusual Fox, Chicago’s Own Wizard for Hire, Iceland, a Family Christmas, Boiled in Lead, Fairport, and much, much more
Click on over and hunker down with a nice cup of hot cocoa and enjoy.

Today's Must-Read: What We Say, What They Hear

From Digby:
I came across this comment by a commenter named peacerme over at Emptywheel (reading this piece.) I thought it was a good way to think about the problem of prosecuting Trump.
I truly fear the codependent belief that Dems have acted out for years, that taking the moral high ground is the moral equivalent of letting bygones be bygones. This would be what happens in domestic violence when he/she or they forget about the beating last night and move on hoping it will never happen again.

Ignoring the broken laws of the Republican Party. From Iran contra, to Plame, to Iraq war, to Russian interference in our elections, to literally torturing children on the border in a way that will alter their brains for life. Dems behave with this moral superiority that is really just codependency.

There's more, of course, but my own summation, given the history of Democrats' reaction to the excesses and outright lawlessness of Republican administrations, is simply this: We say "We're better than this. It's time to move forward and leave this behind us." What they hear is "You got away with it, so you can do it again and nothing will happen to you."

I think it's way past time to remind the Republicans that the rule of law includes punisment for transgressions, anr "moral high ground" be damned.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Culture Break: Arvo Pärt: Stabat Mater

I normally try to keep the "Culture Break" entries somewhat brief, say the length of a popular song or slightly longer. However. I found myself listening to this one and got copletely lost in it. So, I'm going to recommend that you turn off the world for half an hour or so and let the music surround you:

Image du Jour

With thanks to commenter duke of gibbon at Friendly Atheist:
The article is worth reading, on how evangelical"Christians" are really just power-hungry hypocriets. Thinking back, it occurs to me that the "Moral Majority", which Reagan's handlers enlisted to boost his election chances (Tail Wags Dog! Film at 11) was never a religious movement. It was always a political movement. And evangelical "Christianity" is still a political movement.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Trump's Legacy: The Knives Are Out

And they're going for same-sex couples:
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the Supreme Court to strip same-sex couples of their equal parenting rights. He did so at the request of the court, which is considering taking up his case. Hill implored the new conservative majority to rule that states may deny married same-sex couples the right to be recognized as parents of their own children. The case gives SCOTUS an opportunity to start chipping away at Obergefell v. Hodges by allowing states to withhold marital privileges from same-sex spouses. If the majority wants to begin eroding Obergefell, they will probably start here.
This, of course, has been the right's strategy since Roe v. Wade -- chip away, and keep chipping.

It looks as though the Court, or at least some of the justices, are interested in taking up the case, which does indicate an intent to begin demolishing Obergefell -- the central issue here has already been decided -- twice:

What’s strange about this case, Box v. Henderson, is that it poses a question the Supreme Court has already answered—twice. The plaintiffs are eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who used a sperm donor to conceive. When a married opposite-sex couple uses a sperm donor, Indiana recognizes the birth mother’s husband as the child’s parent. When a married same-sex couple does the same thing, however, the state refuses to list the birth mother’s wife as the child’s parent. In both instances, the second parent has no biological connection to the child; Indiana’s decision to extend parental rights to the nonbiological husbands of birth mothers, but not the wives of birth mothers, is sheer discrimination.
It's always possible that Roberts and Gorsuch will stand by stare decisis and vote with the liberal wing -- after all, as the article points out, Indiana's argument is garbage, relying exclusively on a "biological parent" argument that simple doesn't stand up to even mild scrutiny. Do read the whole article -- it's a solid grounding in this issue and a pointer toward what the right will be attempting now that they've got a bunch of fascists in the courts. With thanks to commenter solitasolano at Joe.My.God.

Monday, November 30, 2020

About Face, Forward March

On gay rights, at least, under a Biden admionistration:
As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before his boss, President Barack Obama.

Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. Among them: Lifting the Trump administration’s near-total ban on military service for transgender people, barring federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination, and creating high-level LGBTQ-rights positions at the State Department, the National Security Council and other federal agencies.

Basically, he'll do everything possible to reverse Trump's policies, which of corse came straight from Pence/Jeffress/Perkins/Graham, etc. There's a lot he can do unilaterally, like reversing the ban on transgender military service, since those thingsd were done by executive order. The article goes into some detail on ways and means and is worth reading.

(Via Joe.My.God.)

Of course, good "Christians" like Franklin Graham are sounding the warning:

LGBTQ activists within the Democratic Party are pushing their godless, secular agenda with a potential Biden Administration. If you don’t conform to their ideology, agree with their sinful beliefs, teach what they say is right, they want to close you down.

They will pressure and bully politicians to get their way. It is extremely dangerous if they are permitted to proceed unchecked.

It's called "projection", ladies and gentlemen -- substitute "evangelical 'Christians'" for "LGBTQ activists" and you have the right's strategy of the past several decades.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

As promised, here's another edition of Green Man Review:
A Very Special Cat, a River Journey, Breakfast, Tomb Raiders, Ultimate Pogues, Indonesian Pop, Beethoven, and more. . . .
Lots of goodies, so hunker down with something warm and enjoy.

Wreck Everything

Trump seems determined to destroy the federal government on his way out:
As President Donald Trump’s tenure in the oval office winds down, his administration is apparently looking to leave a lasting effect on federal civil service employment. The administration is seeking to remove legal protections for 88 percent of the federal workforce and ultimately make it much easier for career employees to be fired, several news outlets reported this week. At least one congressional Democrat said the move appears calculated to undermine the incoming Biden administration.

The effort to destabilize tens of thousands of federal jobs stems from an executive order signed by the president late last month. The Office of Management and Budget is reportedly moving swiftly to ensure that it’s implemented before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.

Under the order, political appointees in the White House sent every federal agency a list of positions that should be reclassified as “Schedule F” roles, meaning the employees could be terminated for a number of reasons including poor performance or failing to carry out the administration’s stated priorities. The deadline for the reclassification is Jan. 19, one day prior to inauguration.

There's a lot of speculation that Trump will try to fire everyone and fill the positions with his own loyalists. I wouldn't put it past him just to fire everyone on January 19.

I don't understand why this isn't in court already -- it's a direct violation of federal law, namely the Pendleton Act of 1883, which was passed specifically to avoid that Trump is trying to do.

We'll see if anyone tries to stop him.

Via Joe.My.God.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Critter Chronicles: My Neighbor's Pear Tree

The neighbor across the alley has a pear tree in the back yard which I find myself studying when I'm out. First off, it's got to be at least thirty fee tall. I didn't think pear trees got that tall, but thinking about it, there's no reason they shouldn't. In the spring, it's covere with blossoms, which are soon hidden by leaves. And as the season progresses, it becomes laden with pears.

As the pears mature and start to fall, the tree becomes a favored stopping off place for the rabbits and squirrels in the neighborhood. (Probably the rats, too, but I don't seem them very often.) I once saw a squirrel -- and not a very big one -- making off across the parking lot with a pear in it's mouth that was almost at big as it was -- whether the plan was to bury it for later or find someplace more secluded for lunch, I never discovered.

And this fall, within the space of a day, it turned from green to bright, flame red. It was glorious for a few days, but then we had a very windy day and the leaves were pretty much stripped off -- along with the remaining pears. (We've had a very windy summer and fall -- I credit the hurricanes and tropical storms in the Gulf of Mexico, which tend to drive warm winds up the Mississippi valley.)

And still atrractive -- the branches tend to droop a bit, which gives it a graceful appearance.

I still can't get over how tall it is, though.

We Knew This Was Coming: Religion Über Alles

THe first "religious freedom" case decided by the new, ultra-conservative Supreme Court went as we should have expected:
In a preview of how much damage a conservative majority on the Supreme Court can cause, the justices ruled 5-4 late last night that religious institutions do not have to abide by a public health order in New York limiting how many people can gather in one place. . . .

Here’s the basic backstory: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an Executive Order earlier this year that created limits to how many people can gather in one spot depending on how serious the COVID outbreak was in that region. That was a responsible, science-based decision. In the most dangerous areas, that meant a maximum of 10 people could attend a religious event at one time, even with precautions, while slightly less dangerous areas allowed for a capacity of 25.

There were, however, exceptions to that rule. For example, more people could be inside a grocery store (with masks) since they’re not hanging around and chatting with each other. You’re in, you’re out, it’s essential.

The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and a coalition of synagogues, individuals, and an Orthodox Jewish group sued Cuomo, saying the restrictions interfered with their religious freedom by limiting their attendance. They also said it was unfair that the “essential” exceptions to the rule didn’t apply to them.

Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal wing, but super-Catholic Amy Cony Barrett voted predicatbly.

This follows a trend over recent years of conservatives, particularly "Christians", pushing the "religious freedom" argument as far as it will go. The courts have treaded gingerly -- too ginerly, in my opinion -- in allowing exceptions to the law, notably in regard to anti-discrimination laws. Here we see the beginnings of a wider application of the Free Exercise Clause, which is that they've been working toward.

There's much more at the link -- Justice GOrsuch wrote the majority opinion, which Justice Sotomayor eviscerated in her dissent. It's worth reading the whole article. (And the NYT article linked in the first paragraph of the quote has even more detail.)

Needless to say, the decision is being slammed by just about everyone.

It seems to me that these cases are really very simple: all rights have limits. So, if you want to do business with the general public, you have to abide by non-discrimination laws, no matter your religious beliefs. And Jesus had something to say about praying in public (Matthew 6:5-6):

5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

The name of the case, which no one seems to want to include in their stories, is Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Cuomo.

Friday, November 27, 2020

This Looks About Right

Trump's Idea of a peaceful transfer of power:
Image from Steeve Greenberg, via Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving dinner: Truly American

I was just thinking about where all those foods we serve at Thanksgiving originated. Well, it turns out that they are, indeed, overwhelmingly American in origin.

Turkey, the centerpiece of the meal, was native to eastern North America. Mashed potatoes -- c'mon, you can't have turkey without mashed potatoes: well, potatoes originated in South America. Corn and gren beans, standard vegetables, also both originated in the Americas, beans in South America, corn (maize) in southern Mexico.

Having pumpkin pie for desert? Thank the natives of what is now central Mexico. Ditto sweet potatoes (my mother always included a dish of sweet potatoes with Thanksgiving dinner), although they seem to have been more widespread, occurring down into South America.

So you see, Thanksgiving dinner really is an American feast.

As We Head Into the Season

This is something more people should keep in mind. With thanks to commenter David L. Caster at Joe.My.God.
The linked post is a story about Brian Brown of NOM once again asking for money to help forestall Democratic control of Congress, the Senate, and the White House. The real consequence of that as far as I'm concerned is that they might be able to start undoing some of the damage the Republicans have done in the past four years.

As for Brown's money-beg, I'm surprised anyone donates to NOM at all -- it is probably the most completely ineffective hate group out there. But as they say, there's one born every minute. If you need a refresher on just how divorced from reality the "Christian" right has become, click over to the post,

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Review: Igor Stravinsky: Works of Igor Stravinsky

Fairly frequently I have reason to consider the relative importance of tradition and innovation in the performance of music, usually coming to the conclusion that both have value, and that a successful performer will find a balance point between moribund traditionalism and wild-eyed radicalism.

Of course, historically one of the problems with traditions were that they were so easily lost: not every great performer has had disciples willing to continue his/her traditions. Fortunately, the advent of sound recording has removed most of those problems, so that we now know how Gershwin thought Rhapsody in Blue should sound, and can experience Rachmaninoff’s thinking on his own piano concertos. And we now, thanks to Sony BMG, have a very clear idea of how Igor Stravinsky thought his own works should be performed.

Works of Igor Stravinsky is a massive set: 22 CDs of performances of Rite of Spring, Symphony in E-Flat, The Rake’s Progress and more under the direction of the composer, with additional performances by his disciple Robert Craft under Stravnisky’s supervision, and a disc (the Sympony in E-Flat disc, actually) that includes recordings of rehearsals and Stravinsky discussing his own music.

It’s hard to overstate Stravinsky’s influence on twentieth-century music. It is so pervasive that, for example, while listening to Petrouschka, I was reminded of the soundtrack for every busy urban scene in every film practically since sound became part of movies. No less a figure than Claude Debussy wrote to Stravinsky: “It is a special satisfaction to tell you how much you have enlarged the boundaries of the permissible in the empire of sound.” And this was in 1913, when Stravinsky was still only in his thirties.

Of course, I’m not one to think that the creator necessarily has the final word on his creations. Others may see things that he is too close to discern, or facets that he didn’t think important may take on new weight as times change. In this regard, I found Stravinsky’s interpretations often fairly dry – not quite academic, but without the elements of romance that other interpreters have found in the works. This is not an overwhelming objection, mind you, but after hearing something like the as interpreted by Seiji Ozawa, Stravinsky’s version is relatively tame.

I would also have preferred a different organization for the set, which is set up by type of work – ballets, symphonies, oratorios, sacred music, etc. I think it would have been more illuminating to have set this up in chronological order. Stravinsky, like most artists, when through various stages in his career, from the radical avant-gardism of his youth, through a period, much like Bartok, Kodaly, Enescu, and Vaughan Williams, of incorporating folk and traditional materials into his work, and from there into a strict neoclassicism and a modernist synthesis. This is a progression that I think could have been very well illustrated – and led to a deeper understanding of Stravinsky’s music -- by organizing the collection to take account of it.

However, I’m not going to say pass this up. It’s a tremendous collection, the music of Stravinsky straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. But shop around: since I bought my set, as might be expected, the price has skyrocketed, if you can find it at all.

If you’d like to hear the way one of the twentieth century’s most important composers thought about his own music, go for it.

(Sony / BMG Int’l, 2007)


Could there be anything more adorable?

Friday, November 20, 2020

Culture Break: Arvo Pärt: The Deer's Cry

A bit of a break from the chaos that's ruling the news these days. I haven't listened to Pärt for a while, which is maybe a little odd, considering that one summer, in my (relative) youth, his Passio was my beach music (early in the morning, when there weren't many people around yet. At that point, it was the only work of his available in the U.S. (Strangely enough, there's not a whole lot of his music on YouTube. Go figure.)

Needless to say, I did review it, but that's one of the lost works from our horrendous move to a new host at GMR. Look for it in the next edition on November 29.

Today's Must-Read: But Don't Call It "Terrorism"

From Digby, this is something that Trump deserves to be branded with -- these are his supporters, who he has encouraged and parised as "patriots":
What would you say if you saw this in another country?
There is new and disturbing information in the alleged militia plot against the governor of Michigan.

The 14 men charged had far more violent plans than just a kidnapping, according to federal and state authorities.

New filings claim there was a Plan B the militiamen had drawn up, that involved a takeover of the Michigan capitol building by 200 combatants who would stage a week-long series of televised executions of public officials.

Actually, we've seen this before, on live television from the Middle East.

Read the whole thing, and hope that the Biden administration comes down hard on these "patriots" and others like them. (Can we repoen Alcatraz? Or maybe some coral atoll in the Pacific that's about to go under water.)

Thanks, Trump

I went to the Field Museum yesterday -- my last chance for at least two weeks: they're closing again until December 5, maybe longer, depending, in accordance with new guidelines from the state and city because of the new spike in COVID-19 cases. My cousin e-mailed me that the Art Institute is also closed (I had inquired about the "Monet in Chicago" exhibition); the Shedd Aqarium is closed; the Adler Planetarium has been closed, not being set up to encourage social distancing; the Nature Museum, ditto. Also, all Park District facilities, including the conservatories and field houses, are closed.

Lincoln Park Zoo is open, but closes for the day at 3 pm. two hours early.

And COVID-19 deaths have hit 250.000 and show no sign of tapering off. And now the forecast is for 2,000 deaths a day.

Just think how different it would be if we'd had a president who actually did something about the pandemic instead of denying that it existed. And now, of course, instead of trying to ameliorate the second wave, he's trying to steal the election.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Tofay's Must-Read: The End-Game(s)

Digby has a very interesting post that relies heavily on a piece by Fred Hiatt in the Washington Post (behind a paywall) describing three possible scenarios that explain Trump's behavior in the wake of his election loss:
The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt summarizes the various theories about what Trump is actually doing with his inane refusal to concede the election despite the fact that he clearly lost. In anyone else you would be talking about doing some kind of intervention and getting him some professional help, but this is Trump and he acts irrationally every day and his supporters love it so he remains in power, doing what he does[.]
The three scearios Hiatt outlines all make sense, given that it's Trump's reality we're dealing with, but underlying this is something more important, which Digby notes in her final comment:
From the moment Mitch McConnell stole the Supreme Court seat from Barack Obama in 2016, it was clear that the Republicans had finally completely gone rogue. They made it clear before Trump was even nominated that they no longer cared about hypocrisy and were going to retain power by any means necessary. Trump made that easier by taking all the slings and arrows from the rest of the country and allowing them to pretend that they were secretly embarrassed by him but couldn’t really do anything because their voters are a bunch of rubes and you can’t tell them anything.

They know now that they can get away with anything if they find the right points of leverage. It’s wide open now. The beltway establishment embodied by Hiatt is finally starting to come to grips with that. Let’s see if it sticks.

I've been pointing out for a while that this is what the GOP has been working toward since Reagan and their unholy alliance with the "Christian" right. Trump, with his ability as a rabble-rouser and complete lack of any concerns other than his own comfort, finally made it possible (with the connivance of the media, whether deliberate or just lazy).

Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Yes, It's Been Two weeks

And our new edition of Green Man Review is up:
Alternate Histories, Arthur Redux, Seafood, Teenage Superheroes, Music — Traditional and Not, Rodents, and more. . . .
So click on over and hunker down with a nice hot drink (if your weather is anything like ours today), and dig in.

I Wasn't Just Being Paranoid

I ran across the idea that the Trump regime is trying to tie up the vote counts in key states to throw the selection of electors to the GOP-dominated legislatures. It seemed to me a characteristic move for the right -- they don't believe in the will of the people anyway. It turns out I wasn't just being freaky:
The idea loosely involves GOP-controlled legislatures dismissing Biden’s popular vote wins in their states and opting to select Trump electors. While the endgame was unclear, it appeared to hinge on the expectation that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court would settle any dispute over the move.

Still, it has been promoted by Trump allies, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and is an example of misleading information and false claims fueling skepticism among Trump supporters about the integrity of the vote.

However, the state legislators aren't gong along with it:
Republican leaders in four critical states won by President-elect Joe Biden say they won’t participate in a legally dubious scheme to flip their state’s electors to vote for President Donald Trump. Their comments effectively shut down a half-baked plot some Republicans floated as a last chance to keep Trump in the White House.

State GOP lawmakers in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate’s victory. Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.

I was right -- there's nothing they won't try to stay in power.

Via Joe.My.God., who includes a tweet from Newt Gingrich (remember him?) that concludes his determination of who selects the stat's electors with "the Legislature, not the Secretary of State, Governor, or court".

He forgot to include "the votes of the people".

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Election Fraud!!1! (Updated)

The Trump campaign has released a bunch of affidavits that prove the election was stolen:
Overnight the Trump campaign released 234 pages of what it says are affidavits from poll watchers who claim to have witnessed election fraud or other forms of alleged interference.
The substance, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Reuters DC reporter Brad Heath posted several excerpts of the affidavits as examples, reporting that “it’s mostly allegations that they couldn’t get as close as they wanted to the counting, couldn’t re-enter the room after they left, etc. Pretty standard election stuff.”
There are a number of examples, including one that appears to have been digitally offered, but this is the one that stuck out for me: "Far left" lawyers/law students aside, the idea that military personnel would vote for a Democrat seems to be beyond the realm of the possible for this person -- after all, we've been told that soldiers ar conservative.

Read the whole post. It's fairly short, and highly entertaining.


And there's video!

President Donald Trump in a Twitter temper tantrum tweeted a video that immediately went viral. It appears to show two election workers in an unidentified though publi street location, collecting what are supposedly ballots and placing them into suitcases/carryalls.
Turns out it was all perfectly legal:
The video, it turn out, is real, but from November 4.

“L.A. County officials told Reuters that these ballots were collected on Nov. 4 but were deposited by voters on or before Nov. 3. They are therefore valid and will be processed and counted.”

“All vote by mail ballot drop boxes were closed and locked at 8 PM on Election Day. Ballots from all boxes throughout the County were picked up the following day,” Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, told Reuters.

Any port in a storm, so to speak.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Freedom from Consequences

That seems to be what Supreme Court Jusice Samuel Alito is demanding here; this came under the broad heading of "religious freedom":
During his half-hour-long speech, Alito warned that not only is freedom of belief increasingly under threat, but freedom of expression is as well.

"One of the great challenges for the Supreme Court going forward will be to protect freedom of speech. Although that freedom is falling out of favor in some circles, we need to do whatever we can to prevent it from becoming a second-tier constitutional right,” he said.

The fallacy here is that somehow -- if, or course, you're the "right people", you should be able to say or do whatever you want without consequences. If you indluge in, for example, anti-gay bigotry, then expect to be labeled a bigot. Cloaking it in a belief in "traditional" marriage (one man and -- how many wives was that, King Solomon?) doesn't quite disguise the meaning: you can believe what you want. Where that freedom ends is when you claim the right to force others to cater to your beliefs.

And that's the second fallacy, which too many people seem ready to accept: forcing others to cater to your personal beliefs is somehow an inherent part of "religious freedom". Unfortunately for that argument, it's a given that all rights have limits. As for being called a bigot -- snowflake!

It's a fairlly revealing article, in one respect, at least: in the age of Trump, the masks are coming off.

Via Joe.My.God.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Culture Break: Eskil Romme: Forårsfred

Believe it or not, I do listen to something besides loud obnoxious rock and impenetrable contempoerary avant-garde music. I actually listen to quite a bit of Nordic traditional music. Eskil Romme is one that shows up a lot on my playlist. This is from his album Himmerlandsmelodier, which I reviewed as part of this group.

A Couple of Thoughts on the Election

Trump and the Republicans are going to keep suing to stop the counting of votes or invalidate results in a few key states. Most commentators I've seen are saying that the lawsuits have no chance of winning, but I'm not sure that's the point. If they keep the counts from being certified before the deadline, then the Republican-dominated legislatures in those states will choose the electors. Guess who they'll vote for.

In the meantime, Trump is doing everything he can to be sure that what's left of the government is a shambles. Digby has an interesting post that touches on that as well as the GOP reaction in general. Rather that try to pick out a quote -- it covers a lot of ground -- just read the whole thing.

And I just got an e-mail from the Chicago Board of Elections thanking me for being one of 800,000 Chicagoans who voted by mail or voted early.

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Well, It's All Over

but the lawsuits. Trump is not going to concede, the GOP will demand recounts in swing states, and they'll keep trying until it gets to the Supreme Court, where Trump's stable of lackeys will overturn the will of the people -- if the "Christian" trumpanzees can't persuade God to do it..

And they've already started pushing Republican-dominated state legislatures to throw out the vote and choose their own partisan slate of electors.

Stray Thought for the Day

Both the sun and the moon rise in the east.

Does that mean the universe is right-handed?

Friday, November 06, 2020

The Next Step

Toward Donald Trump, President for Life. After all, he's already claimed victory in the election; how better to make sure that it happens?
As ongoing vote tabulation in several key battleground states continues to slowly narrow President Donald Trump’s path to reelection, the New York Times reported late Wednesday that the Justice Department has told federal prosecutors that U.S. law permits armed federal agents to enter ballot-counting locations to investigate alleged “fraud,” heightening fears of possible intimidation efforts by the Trump administration. . . .

The Times noted that the Justice Department’s email, authored by Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, “created the specter of the federal government intimidating local election officials or otherwise intervening in vote tallying amid calls by President Trump to end the tabulating in states where he was trailing in the presidential race.”

While U.S. law bars the stationing of armed officials “at any place where a general or special election is held,” Donoghue claimed in his email that the statute “does not prevent armed federal law enforcement persons from responding to, investigat[ing], or prevent[ing] federal crimes at closed polling places or at other locations where votes are being counted.”

What better way to insure the vote goes your way -- I mean, is fair and accurate?

And you can bet real money that they will find fraud, if they have to invent it themselves.

I think, if I were the governor of any of these states, I would have these federal agents met by armed state troopers.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Yes, Election Day was yesterday and we still don't know who is going to be president for the next four years. Trump, of course, has claimed victory, based on the voices in his head, but they're still counting votes -- millions of mail-in ballots. For some reason, only a few states allow absentee/mail-in ballots to be counted before election day. The thinking behind that eludes me.

This is going to wind up in the courts. It's already been there, and that's going to be a big problem, now that the GOP has stacked the Supreme Court with Republican hacks. Digby has a post quoting extensively from an article by Ian Millhiser examining the legal landscape -- or at least, part of it:

Two significant legal events occurred last week that could determine whether the winner of the 2020 election actually becomes president. They could also shape American elections for years to come if the Supreme Court’s 6-3 Republican majority remains in place. The first was the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, which not only gave Republicans a supermajority on the Supreme Court, it also most likely made Justice Brett Kavanaugh the swing vote in election cases. While Kavanaugh’s approach to election law is extremely conservative, he’s staked out a position that is slightly more moderate than the views of his most conservative colleagues Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch.

The second event is that, last Monday, just minutes before Barrett was confirmed, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that prevents ballots that arrive after Election Day in the state of Wisconsin from being counted. Kavanaugh joined that decision, and he also wrote a separate concurring opinion that endorsed a radical reading of the Constitution that would upend at least a century of established law.

Briefly, Kavanaugh signaled that he wants to give federal courts — and his Court in particular — an unprecedented new power to overrule state supreme courts and to potentially rewrite state election law. Some of the implications of this view are discussed below, but the upshot is it means that Kavanaugh appears ready to change longstanding rules that have governed elections for a very long time.

That's bad enough, but it gets worse:
There is, however, a crucial question that the Supreme Court has yet to resolve. If the courts change the rules governing an election after voters have already cast their ballots, are voters who did not comply with these new rules disenfranchised, even if they followed the rules that were in place when their ballot was cast?

Three justices, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, have all claimed that voters who followed the rules that were in place when their ballot was counted can have their ballots tossed out anyway if a court later changes the rules.

ANd how long, do you suppose, before we dispense with holding elections at all, and just let the courts decide who our elected officials are going to be? American democracy -- it was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Today's the Day

Actually, it's not, really -- that will be when all the votes have been counted and totals certified -- after all the lawsuits and delaying tactics from the GOP. (This is a sample of what we can expect. And if you think the Trump regime is going to stick with lawsuits, get a load of this -- and click through and check out the locations that are being "monitored".)

But, when all it said and done, today is Election Day. I fully expect Trump to declare himself the winner as soon as the first results are in, no matter what they show.

No, I am not going to hover over the TV or Internet as the results come in and watch all the pundits make fools of themselves. I'll watch a movie or something. And try not to think about things like this:


With thanks to John Cole at Balloon Juice.)

Monday, November 02, 2020

It's a Strategy, Of a Sort

A couple of stories I ran across that resonated with each other. First, the blowhard himself:
President Trump has told confidants he'll declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he's "ahead," according to three sources familiar with his private comments. That's even if the Electoral College outcome still hinges on large numbers of uncounted votes in key states like Pennsylvania.
Somehow, I suspect he'll declare victory no matter what the numbers are:
Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, Trump denied that he would declare victory prematurely, before adding, "I think it's a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it's a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over."
He continued: "I think it's terrible that we can't know the results of an election the night of the election. ... We're going to go in the night of, as soon as that election's over, we're going in with our lawyers."
"We don't want to have Pennsylvania, where you have a political governor, a very partisan guy. ... We don't want to be in a position where he's allowed, every day, to watch ballots come in. See if we can only find 10,000 more ballots."
And in line with that, here's Trump loyalist and henchman Corey Lewandowski:
You know, Chris, what the president’s real concern is and the Supreme Court has made some rulings on this, is trying to get as many votes in by Election Day as possible. The concern is when you have some states that don't require a postage mark on theirs, so we don't know when they were filled out, they don't require signature verification, and some states they'll be counting nine or ten days after the election. I think that as the most industrialized country in the world we can do better than that, Chris.

We know that people can vote, we know how to count quickly, so let's get it done because I think this election is going to be won on election night with Donald Trump carrying in Florida and North Carolina and Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and if that's the case, there will be no need to continue to count because it will be a resounding victory.

So there is it -- just stop counting votes when it looks like the Don has won. And just in case:
If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electoral [votes] somewhere in that range, and then they’re going to try to steal it back after the election. We believe we will be over 290 electoral votes on election night, so no matter what they try to do, what kind of hijinks or lawsuits or whatever kind of nonsense they try to pull off, we’ll have enough electoral votes to get President Trump re-elected.” – Senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller, speaking today on ABC News.

It's all of a piece with the barrage of lawsuits aimed at not counting ansentee/mail-in ballots, the repeated mantra of "vote fraud" that the GOP has been chanting for years (and in case you need to be reminded, every case of actual fraud that has been discovered has been perpretrated by Republicans), and the media blitz, led by Fox and enabled by our "free, independent press", and straight out of the Josef Goebbels manual.

Tomorrow night should be a real spectacle.

(All via Joe.My.God.)

Sunday, November 01, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

It's been two weeks, and sure enough, there's a new bunch of reviews at Green Man Review.
A Space Opera That’s Not, Earthsea Illustrated, Rhubarb, A Zombie Romance, Live Tull, Live Fiddles, and more. . . .
You know the drill. Get yourself a nice warm drink (if your weather is anything like ours today) and settle in for some really interesting reading.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Press in Action

I've been critical of the press recently, and I think with good reason. This story only points up one of the major problems:
Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris didn’t hold back when confronted by a CBS News reporter asking if she’s pushing a socialist agenda. She laughed out loud at the reporter’s suggestion.

“What I will do, and I promise you this, this is what Joe wants me to do,” the California Senator, speaking about her running mate, told “60 Minutes” correspondent Norah O’Donnell.

“This was part of our deal. I will always share with him my lived experience as it relates to any issue that we confront. And I promised Joe that I will give him that perspective and always be honest with him.”

O’Donnell’s response, which was panned on social media, forced Senator Harris to laugh in her face.

“And is that a socialist or progressive perspective?” O’Donnell asked.

I don't know much about O'Donnell, but from this it's obvious she shouldn't be left unattended near a microphone. This is a prime example of our "free, independent press" buying into pre-fab memes, provided by the right wing, without question. It also looks as though O'Donnell is trying to put words into Harris' mouth. Fortunately, Harris is too smart for her:
“No,” Harris replied, breaking out in laughter suggesting she thought the question was absurd.

“It is the perspective of a woman who grew up a Black child in America, who was also a prosecutor, who also has a mother who arrived here at the age of 19 from India, who also like hip-hop,” Harris continued, still laughing. “What do you want to know?”

You have to love it.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday Science: Earth: A Biography: A Sidebar: Autumn Color

Those of us who live in the north temperate zone are treated every fall to autumn color, when the leaves on the trees turn from green to red, orange, yellow, and everything in between. This is because the chlorophyll in the leaves, which gives them their green color, breaks down, exposing other pigments that have been hiding under the surface.

Chlorophyll is one of a class of photoshymthetic pigments that first made their appearance roughly three billion years ago. There are others -- look at any number of decorative plants and shrubs, which show red, yellow, orange and various combinations of color. And they all enable photosynthesis, which not only allows plants (and some bacteria) to make their own food, but produces as a byproduct the oxygen in the air we breathe.

No one is quite sure how some bacteria -- known officially as "cyanobacteria" -- first made use of photosynthetic pigments, but they did. One of the immediate results was oceans full of rust, which sank to the bottom and created what are nown as "banded iron formations" -- the source of mose of our iron ore. Once that was accomplaished, the oxygen that these bacteria were producing escaped into the atmosphere -- which at that point was composed of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapoor - and created the ozone layer, which proved to be of great significance: the ozone layer filters out most of the harmful radition from the sun and enabled life to move from the oceans to the land.

Scientists believe that land plants are descended from green algae, mostly because they contain the same kind of chlorophyll. It actually makes a lot of sense -- who has not seen a clump of algae on a shore, periodically left high and dry as the tide goes out. And the first land plants were mosses and selaginellas, which require a moist environment.

But back to fall color: What we're seeing after the chlorophyll breaks down is the other pigments, which will last until the leaves fall. There's even an order in which this all happens, at least as far as the trees themselves are concenred: here in Chicago, the firt to turn are the locusts and ashes, followed by maples and basswoods. Mixed in there are birches, ginkos, and the various others that get planted in the city. Oaks are notable for having prsisent leaves -- they turn color and die, but they don't fall. That's probably why squirrels pefer them for nest-building: the leaves hold to the twigs so you bedroom isn't constantly falling apart.

So that's all I have to say for now about fall color and how it fits in which the scheme of things.

The Pope Puts His Foot in It

I'm doing a little catching up on this one (it's been one of those weeks). You may have run across a story on the Pope's comments on legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples:
Pope Francis is calling for same-sex couples to be “legally” protected by civil union laws.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” the Pope says in a new documentary, Catholic News Agency reports. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

Later, Pope Francis defended his remarks in the film, saying, “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

As you might imagine, the reaction has been less than positive among the "faithful".

Franklin Graham's response (not that anyone asked him to respond) is noteworthy for its lack of -- well, call it Christian compassoin:

Graham sees the Catholic Church’s new regard for supporting LGBTQ people in law – not religion – as so dangerous to the Christian faith he says it would mean Jesus died for nothing.

“For Pope Francis to attempt to normalize homosexuality is to say that Holy Scriptures are false, that our sins really don’t matter, and that we can continue living in them,” Graham told his nine million Facebook followers. “If that were true, then Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection wouldn’t have been needed. The cross would have been for nothing.”

Apparently, in Graham's eyes the whole point of Jesus' life was to deny gays and lesbians the right to live with dignity and self-respect -- to be treated like normal human beings.

The response from the Catholic hierarchy is no less scathing. Here's Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano:

Bergoglio is a candidate for ‘pontiff’ of a new religion, with new commandments, new morals, and new liturgies. He distances himself from the Catholic religion and from Christ, and consequently from the Hierarchy and the faithful, disavowing them and leaving them at the mercy of the globalist dictatorship. Those who do not adapt to this new code will therefore be ostracized by society and by this new ‘church’ as a foreign body.
Vigano doesn't seem to have twigged to the fact that the "faithful" are already being ostracized. (And as Joe notes in his comment, Vigano uses the Pope's birth name, not "Pope Francis" or any of the honorifics normally used to refer to the pontiff.

This one's choice. From Bishop Thomas Tobin:

“The Holy Father’s apparent support for the recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples needs to be clarified.

“The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions.

“The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law.

“However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible.”

The part about "objectively immoral" relationships is, as far as I'm concerned, a real howler. Given that the basic moral dictum is "take care of each other", all these arbitrary rules cherry-picked from the tribal taboos of Bronze Age Middle-Eastern nomads can hardly claim to be any sort of standard for moral behavior. (In that vein, Tobin is credibly accused of ignoring child sexual abuse complaints when he was auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh.)

There are other resonses, of course. What's most noteworthy of the lot is that their reference is to Catholic dogma and not to the teaching of Christ -- who had nothing at all to say about homosexuality or same-sex relationships.


I've gotten to the point where, skimming the headlines in the morning, if they mention Trump, the latest polls, the election, etc., I skip the story. I'm not wishing for it to be November 4 -- that won't be the end of it. I'm wishing for it to be January 21, 2021, when President Biden is safely installed in office and the current resident is trying to find some dictator to take him in.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

Finally! Our second biweekly edition, and it's all about Halloween -- well, some of it is.
It’s Late October So Some Halloween Matters and Not So Halloweenish Matters as Well
So click on over and hunker down -- there's a lot there.

Friday, October 16, 2020

I'm Going to Say This Once

Amy Coney Barrett is a nightmare. I keep seeing headlines about how this Democratic senator called her out on something, while that one backed her into a corner, and yet another asked questions she couldn't -- or wouldn't -- answer.

It does matter. The Republican majority will vote to confirm her, she will be sworn in at the earliest opportunity, and with a majority of neo-fascists on the Court, you can kiss civil rights for anyonbe who's not a white, cis-gendered, Christian, heterosexual male good-bye.

The Season Turns

We went from a week or two of summer in late September/early October, to autumn over the past few days, and it seems as though overnight, the leaves started turning. It's mostly locusts and ashes*, which are the first to turn. There are whole stretches of streets lines with bright yellow locust trees, although, typically, there are places where they are still green.

The maple across the alley is bright flaming red-orange, although the maple next to it is still green. Ditto a pair of basswoods at one of my regular bus stops -- one is mostly that dark bronze-red that basswoods turn in the fall; the one next to it is still green. I haven't figured out the mechanism here -- it's got to be a combination of day length and exposure: it seems that trees in more sheltered locations turn later -- not always, but then nothing in nature is 100%.

At any rate, fall is here. Nice to look at, but I'm not as cold-proof as I used to be, so it's a mixed bag.

* Those ashes that are left. The emerald ash borer, which somehow got here from Asia, has wreaked havoc on the native ash trees. I can't find a count on the number of trees destroyed, but it's in the tens of millions.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Birds of a Feather

And so forth. Actually, I think this is pretty funny:
President Trump's reelection bid received a vote of support Friday from an entity most in his party would reject: the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News in a phone interview, "We hope he will win the election and wind up U.S. military presence in Afghanistan." The militant group expressed some concern about Mr. Trump's bout with the coronavirus. "When we heard about Trump being COVID-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but seems he is getting better," another Taliban senior leader told CBS News.
The Trump camp's reaction is about what you'd expect:
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Saturday that they "reject" the Taliban support. "The Taliban should know that the president will always protect American interests by any means necessary," Murtaugh said.
"American interests" in this context being Trump's bank account. And don't forget -- he only likes white terrorists.

Via Joe.My.God.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Critter Chronicles: A Symbiote

I've decided that, for the purposes of this blog, "critter" includes anything alive -- animals, plants, and those that are somewhere in between.

While waiting for buses yesterday, I was noticing the lichenbs growing on trees by the bust stops. One in particular, a locust, had three different types of lichens growing on it, one green, one gray, and a couple of small patches of golden orange.

And what, exactly, is lichen? you may ask. From the U.S. Forest Service:

Lichens are a complex life form that is a symbiotic partnership of two separate organisms, a fungus and an alga. The dominant partner is the fungus, which gives the lichen the majority of its characteristics, from its thallus shape to its fruiting bodies. The alga can be either a green alga or a blue-green alga, otherwise known as cyanobacteria. Many lichens will have both types of algae.
There are about 3,600 species of lichen, and they take various forms -- low-growing, crusty-looking habits, branching, filamentous, you name it. The Field Museum a while back, had a small exhibition on lichens that was very interesting. One of the examples was the door from an old pickup truck that was covered in lichen. They'll grow pretty much anywhere -- I've seen them on trees, on rocks, on old scrap metal that's been lying outside -- all sorts of places.

Fascinating critters.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

At Last! Green Man Review for October 4, 2020

In case I didn't mention it before, Green Man Review has gone to a biweekly publication schedule. That means you won't see us as often, but when you do, there's lots and lots of stuff to enjoy.
Diverse Music including Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Warren Ellis Goes Graphic, Spider-Mans, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, A Cherryh’s Alliance-Union Universe novel and Other Pleasant Diversions
So, you can click on over and spend some time with your favorite subjects.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Yeah, I Know

I haven't been posting. The main reason is that the news is just mind-numbing. Now we're down to blaring headlines about who in the Trump regime is the latest to test positive for COVID-19. I guess next we'll be getting breathless "breaking news" updates about who's taking a dump.

Apparently our free, independent media thinks nothing else is going on in the world.


This one speaks for itself" Via Digby.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Plan

The pieces of this have been floating around for a while, but this brought it all into focus:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday would not commit to providing a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, lending further fuel to concerns he may not relinquish his office should he lose in November.

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," Trump said when asked whether he'd commit to a peaceful transition, one of the cornerstones of American democracy.

(Via Joe.My.God.)

This isn't the first time he's said it, but I started thinking about all those pieces:

1) Railing against voting by mail, since, because of the way he's bungled the federal response to the pandemic, it's going to be the only real option for millions of people.

2) Gutting Post Office operations, because #1.

3) "Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!" While pointing at Democrats. As it turns out, the very few cases of voting fraud and election tampering that have been discovered are almost all committed by Republicans.

4) Threatening to send federal troops to "protect" polling places.

5) Rushing through his nominee, either the Handmaid or the kiddie porn sympathizer, to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, because he's covering all his bases: if he doesn't win, he'll challenge the result, with pictures of Bush v. Gore dancing in his head. And don't be surprised if Moscow Mitch dispenses with hearing and debate and just calls a floor vote: time is of the essense.

6) And the latest wrinkle, having state legislatures bypass the voters and appoint electors directly. Someone pointed out that this will only work in states that Trump would likely win anyway, but given the way his approval ratings have been dropping, even in so-called "battleground" states, I'm not sure that's the case.

7) And of course, there's always the white supremacists, neo-nazis and other assorted lowlifes to call to arms, just in case.

And the "free, independent, adversarial press" is not calling him out on any of it.

Good-bye, America. It was nice while it lasted.

Footnote: Under the heading "Great Minds. . .", this post from Mustang Bobby.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

Yes, the move to a new host is done (and the less said about it, the better) and we're back again with a new edition. Note: we're going to biweekly review editions, with the stories alternating, so needless to say, this edition is packed full of neat stuff. This is just the tip of the iceberg:
Autumnal Folkmanis Puppets, Demon Detectives, British Mysteries, Soundscape Designers, and more
So hop on over and enjoy.

In Memoriam

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

I think she would have appreciated the image, which is a collage by Ghillermo Rojo titled "Annunciation".

Saturday, September 19, 2020


There goes the Court:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.
Moscow Mitch and the holy rollers are licking their chops, because you know McConnell will ram through some brain=dead Christian Dominionist, or worse, to fill the vacancy.

There's much more to the article -- go ahead and read the whole thing.

Via Joe.My.God.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Critter Chronicles: We Still Have Cicadas

Although the noise at twilight is not quite as deafening as it was. We have here, in addition to the world-famous seventeen-year locust, annual cicadas as well, so every summer we get serenaded. And it turns out that there's also a thirteen-year cycle for some species.

I suspect, because of the noise level, that we'be hit a congruence of broods, although I don't think the seventeen-year bugs are quite due.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Today's Must-Read: Our "Free, Independent, Adversarial" Press

Digby does a major take-down of a piece by Dan Balz at WaPo that I think illustrates one of our major problems. She sums it up:
This bland recitation of Trump’s corruption as if it’s just another tactic is as “norm-breaking” as Trump himself. The Village is alive and well.
Read the whole thing. It's devastating.

It's No Secret

That Trump will do anything to retain power, and it's no secret that Roger Stone is nuts, but this is over the top even for him
Roger Stone is making baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and is urging Donald Trump to consider several draconian measures to stay in power, including having federal authorities seize ballots in Nevada, having FBI agents and Republican state officials “physically” block voting under the pretext of preventing voter fraud, using martial law or the Insurrection Act to carry out widespread arrests, and nationalizing state police forces.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. While I would expect Trump and his minions to be a little more subtle -- although subtlety is not one of Trump's defining characteristics -- I can actually envision something like this happening, although I would expect Trump and the Republicans to try to tie the election up in the courts, since stacking the courts is the only thing Moscow Mitch and his pet Senators have done in the past three-and-a-half years -- aside from giving the richest a free ride. (On second thought, Stone's "recommendations" are really just what Trump's been threatening without the pretty wrappings.)

Read the whole article, but do keep in mind that it's Roger Stone speaking to Alex Jones, another certifiable loon.

Via Balloon Juice.

I'm Back

Being so fed up with Wordpress that I've decided to stick with the new, "improved" (hah!) Blogger.

Actually, it doesn't seem to be stalling my computer the way it was, so maybe something's corrected itself.

In other news, Green Man Review is back, and has a new edition up. Our Coda this time is a couple of songs by Cameron Hawthorne; you can see the videos at the link. Here's one I wanted to include, but that would have been overkill. It's a nice change of pace from the two in the Coda:

And, as you can see, in addition to being a talented musician, he's a real cutie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Today's Must-Read: The DNC Kick-Off

Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. The whole thing is at Bark Bark Woof Woof. Here's the beginning:
Good evening, everyone. It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways. And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune into a political convention right now or to politics in general. Believe me, I get that. But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting. I’ve met so many of you. I’ve heard your stories. And through you, I have seen this country’s promise. And thanks to so many who came before me, thanks to their toil and sweat and blood, I’ve been able to live that promise myself. That’s the story of America. All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids. There’s a lot of beauty in that story. There’s a lot of pain in it, too, a lot of struggle and injustice and work left to do. And who we choose as our president in this election will determine whether or not we honor that struggle and chip away at that injustice and keep alive the very possibility of finishing that work.
Read the whole thing. It's a beaut.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review.

Sadly, nohing. We're in between hosts and had expected to be up and running before now, but there have been complications. As for this site, I really am going to have to move over to Wordpress or something. Aside from being user-hostile, Blogger is now causing my computer to stall. I'm having to write posts on Wordpad and copy and past them in, which is a pain. I'll try to keep you posted.

Friday, August 14, 2020


This will probably bemy last post fora while. Blogger has "updated", with the result that I'm finding it next to unusabe. I'll probably try moving everything over to Wordpress, but it may take a while. I'll try to post a link to the new blog once I've started setting it up. Trump and his allies have gotten to the poiont where they're not even pretending any more. Trump himself lets the cat out of the bag:
President Donald Trump said the quiet part out loud, admitting he’s intentionally withholding money from the U.S. Postal Service to undermine its ability to handle mail-in voting in the 2020 election. “They need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump said on Fox Business Thursday morning of the states that are implementing universal mail-in voting ahead of the November election. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Sunday, August 09, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

Our usual mix of this, that, and the other, with a couple of surprises:

Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Son, Hugo Award Winners, King Arthur Revisited, the Universe, a Graduating Class, and Other Cool Stuff

So, off you go to enjoy all the goodies.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Critter Chronicles: Pigeons Are Weird

Firsts off, they walk funny -- like wind-up toys -- their heads bob back and forth, and the faster they walk, the faster their heads move. It's a wonder they don't get whiplash.

And have you ever noticed how a flock of pigeons will take off from wherever they're roosting, fly around in circles for a while, and then light just where they were to begin with?

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Culture Break: Penguin Cafe: 'Protection' for Erased Tapes

Penguin Cafe is the successor to Penguin Cafe Orchestra (reviews of their music are here and here. This piece was a new one for me, that I ran across quite by chance. I like it a lot:

I don't know if this has been released on an album, but you can find a review of their album A Matter of Life. . . at Green Man Review this coming Sunday.

They're worth checking out on YouTube, as well -- lots of nice stuff.

Nice Company You've Got There

Be a shame if anything happened to it. This broke a couple of days ago:

President Donald Trump said TikTok will have to close in the U.S. by Sept. 15 -- unless there’s a deal to sell the social network’s domestic operations to Microsoft Corp. or another U.S. company.

Trump also said the federal government will have to be paid a “substantial amount of money” as part of any deal.

“I don’t mind whether it’s Microsoft or someone else, a big company, a secure company, a very American company buys it,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. “It’ll close down on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal, an appropriate deal, so the Treasury of the United States gets a lot of money.”

Trump really has started to think of himself as the godfather. I can't see how the U.S. government can legally demand a cut of a business deal between two corporations. My own feeling is it's just Trump blowing gas again -- he announced originally, on Friday, that he would ban TikTok's operations in the U.S. on Saturday via his old stand-by, executive order. Nothing happened.

However, the reactions have been, predictably, not positive. The Chinese, in particular, are not pleased:

Chinese state media this week is blasting Washington for what it calls the United States' "nasty" treatment of TikTok — the wildly popular video-sharing app that has become emblematic of worsening US-China relations.

"The US' decoupling from China starts [with] killing China's most competitive companies," wrote the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, in an editorial published Monday. "In the process, Washington ignores rules and is unreasonable."

And as usual, Trump's own people have no idea how this is supposed to happen, if it happens (and that's a big if, but it's the press' latest shiny object):

White House officials on Tuesday could not say how the U.S. government would receive a portion of the proceeds from any sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations, one day after President Donald Trump called for a cut of the money.

“There’s no specific blueprint here,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox Business Network on Tuesday.

“It may be that the president was thinking, because the Treasury has had to do so much work on this, there are a lot of options here. I’m not sure it’s a specific concept that will be followed through ... Regarding fees or anything like that, all that remains to be seen,” Kudlow said.

This is revealing of Trump's thinking on this (among other things):

Experts have said the U.S. government generally does not have the authority to take a cut of private business sales. But Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star who has touted his “art of the deal,” on Monday said “a very substantial portion” of any TikTok sale must go to the U.S. Treasury “because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.”

That's a stretch, at best -- the only possible way we "allowed this to happen" is if it requires an OK from the Commerce Department, or DoJ, on anti-monopoly grounds, which wouldn't apply here.

The man's an idiot.

Oh, and if you're wondering why Trump is going after TikTok in particular, aside from the fact that it's a Chinese company, note this, from the Bloomberg story:

Teenagers opposed to Trump have also used the app to disrupt the president’s campaign activities, including signing up for tickets to his first rally since the beginning of the pandemic, in Tulsa. Attendance at the late June event was far below expectations, and Trump hasn’t held another rally since.

Bottom line: they're being mean to him.

All via Joe.My.God.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

Another Sunday, and more reviews. There's sort of a theme this week:

de Lint books and music, blatant self-promotion is a good thing, a boozy trifle and other good things

It's not all de Lint -- just mostly. Hop on over and see what else is waiting for you.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Catching Up: The Next Step

Toward what? you may ask. Why, toward a fascist authoritarian state, of course. This is from a couple of days ago (I don't seem to have highlighted it yet):

He can't do that of course -- no matter what Mike Pompeo says. The date of the presidential election is set by federal law. Good luck with getting Nancy Pelosi to agree to a delay. But even the Republicans aren't jumping on this particular bandwagon:

Top Republicans on Thursday rejected President Trump’s suggestion that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed — something he has no authority to order. “Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, adding that he understood “the president’s concern about mail-in voting.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, declined to answer questions on Capitol Hill, but dismissed Mr. Trump’s suggestion in an interview with WNKY television. “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’ll cope with whatever the situation is.”

Meanwhile, Trump's minions are doing everything possible to make voting by mail untenable:

The U.S. Postal Service is experiencing days-long backlogs of mail across the country after a top Trump donor running the agency put in place new procedures described as cost-cutting efforts, alarming postal workers who warn that the policies could undermine their ability to deliver ballots on time for the November election.

As President Trump ramps up his unfounded attacks on mail balloting as being susceptible to widespread fraud, postal employees and union officials say the changes implemented by Trump fundraiser-turned-postmaster general Louis DeJoy are contributing to a growing perception that mail delays are the result of a political effort to undermine absentee voting.

Of course, the Republicans have been wanting to kill the USPS almost as long as they've been trying to repeal Social Security.

Needless to say, the reactions to this ploy have been less than positive. A sample:

I'm really starting to think we're heading toward a civil war, courtesy of Trump and the Republicans.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Today in Trump's America: A Quick Survey (Update)

There's just so much.

First, from the top attorney for Trump's re-election campaign, the Gospel according to your favorite theocrat (pick one -- they'ar all over the place in this regime):

The notion that the United States observes a separation of church and state is a lie, according to President Donald Trump’s senior campaign legal adviser.

“The left is going to tell you there’s this separation of church and state, and that’s just nowhere in the Constitution, nowhere in American law,” Jenna Ellis declared Monday evening during a Zoom event hosted by Asian Pacific Americans for Trump. “That’s nothing that our founding principles ever, uh, derived whatsoever.”

There's more at the link. Via Joe.My.God., who also has some of Ellis' past statements about gay people, just in case you were wondering.

Next up, Trump's Pentagon, which claims that American citizens are the "adversaries":

A new mandatory Pentagon training course aimed at preventing leaks refers to protesters and journalists as "adversaries" in a fictional scenario designed toteach Defense Department personnel how to better protect sensitive information.

The new course was recently launched as part of Defense Secretary Mark Esper's effort to improve "operational security," or OPSEC, and clamp down on leaks. The training materials are public and include a video message from Esper, as well as a July 20 memo outlining his concerns about operational security and directing all DoD personnel — military, civilian and on-site contractors — to take the course within the next 60 days.

The DoD spokesman gives a nice rationale for use of the term, but it still reveals a mindset that's pretty dismal.

Again, vie Joe.My.God.

And from Glorious Leader himself, a little racism to wash it down:

There's more. I may update this one.

Update: Trump doesn't think he has to abide by Supreme Court decisions:

President Donald Trump though acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf (photo) will sidestep a Supreme Court ruling and move to drastically limit access to and limit the protections of the Obama-era program known as DACA.

The administration believes DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is still illegal, NBC News reports. Acting Secretary Wolf on Tuesday announced he will not accept any new applicants to the program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children.

Nice elections you have there -- be a shame if anything happened to them:

The Trump administration is planning to keep federal agents in Portland, Oregon, through at least mid-October, according to an internal email obtained by CNN.

Portland has been the site of ongoing protests for more than 50 days that have turned violent, sparking outrage among local officials who have faulted the federal presence for aggravating the situation on the ground.
But as protests persist, Customs and Border Protection -- part of the Department of Homeland Security -- is laying the groundwork for continued presence in the city on a rotational basis to relieve those agents who have been in Portland and who may be deployed in the near future.

At least mid-October? Like, into early November? And if it looks like it's working in Portland ("working" being a matter of viewpoint), why not try it in other cities?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

About Those "Violent, Left-Wing Extremists"

Can you say "bullshit"?

A man seen breaking windows in a viral video of Minneapolis protests is suspected to be a known member of a white supremacist group, cops have alleged in a search warrant affidavit. The man in question, Mitchell Carlson, has not been charged with a crime.

The video, filmed on May 27, showed a man dressed in all black methodically smashing windows of an AutoZone in Minneapolis during racial justice protests over the police killing of George Floyd. The man also spray painted “free shit for everyone zone” on the building’s doors. The man appeared to be dressed as an anti-fascist, but was eyed as a possible infiltrator or “outside agitator” when protesters tried to question him over his activities. He became known as “Umbrella Man” on social media alongside debunked theories that he was a police officer attempting to discredit the protests.

Now, in a search warrant affidavit first reported by The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, police say they have received a tip that the man is Mitchell Carlson, “a full‐fledged member of the Hell’s Angels” and “a known associate of the Aryan Cowboys. The Aryan Cowboys are a known prison gang out of Minnesota and Kentucky.”

Via Joe.My.God.

And as for who started the violence, note this via Digby:

The New York Times reports today on how these troops were the instigators of the violence:

After flooding the streets around the federal courthouse in Portland with tear gas during Friday’s early morning hours, dozens of federal officers in camouflage and tactical gear stood in formation around the front of the building.

Then, as one protester blared a soundtrack of “The Imperial March,” the officers started advancing. Through the acrid haze, they continued to fire flash grenades and welt-inducing marble-size balls filled with caustic chemicals. They moved down Main Street and continued up the hill, where one of the agents announced over a loudspeaker: “This is an unlawful assembly.”

By the time the security forces halted their advance, the federal courthouse they had been sent to protect was out of sight — two blocks behind them. Eight weeks after the death of George Floyd, here’s a look at why longstanding protests in the city have recently intensified.

The aggressive incursion of federal officers into Portland has been stretching the legal limits of federal law enforcement, as agents with batons and riot gear range deep into the streets of a city whose leadership has made it clear they are not welcome…

Digby concludes with this warning:

I think we all knew on some level the moment they named the agency the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security, that we were building an internal police force. And if you build it, they will use it. They’re using it.

Remember, these troops were sent in by the man who had peaceful protesters teargassed so he could have a photo op holding a Bible upside-down in front of a church he doesn't attend.

Footnote: I saw a statement by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot that there is evidence that the looting on the South Side and in the suburbs during the first demonstrations was planned. You can bet it wasn't planned by BLM.