Sunday, December 31, 2017
Widespread and sometimes violent demonstrations that began days ago as peaceful protests against economic conditions are now, at least sometimes, aimed at a different target.
After four days of rare protests in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani tried to calm the nation on Sunday, saying that people had the right to protest and acknowledging public worries over the economy and corruption.
But local news reports said he also exhorted Iranians not resort to violence, after reports of protesters attacking banks and municipal buildings across the nation, including a local government building in Tehran.
Video shared on social media showed the police in Tehran firing water cannon to try to disperse demonstrators in Ferdowsi Square, Reuters reported. The footage could not be independently confirmed.
Two protesters were reported killed in recent days in the city of Dorud, and there have been reports of dozens arrested across Iran.
The unrest began as a protest over rising prices and other economic difficulties, and quickly grew into a nationwide outpouring of anger against the government, including over corruption.
. . . .
The unauthorized protests have challenged the authorities, with crowds turning revolutionary slogans against the government of the Islamic Republic, which took power after a revolution in 1979.
Protesters in Tehran and elsewhere have called for the resignation of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as witnesses have described crowds chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Clerics should get lost.”
Postings on social media showed what the posters said were demonstrators in Dorud, including bonfires in the street and graphic images of people with bloody wounds.
At least one of the videos was verified by BBC Persian.
Meanwhile, the president who endorses torture, the third degree, the murder of the families of terrorists, and police brutality warned Iranian authorities about human rights abuses - imagine Himmler pretending such concerns - and missed the evolution of the protests from pocket-book issues toward political radicalism.
President Trump, who as the protests spread had tweeted, “The world is watching!” doubled down on his criticism of the Iranian government on Sunday.
He posted on Twitter: “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
Not Leibnitz's extravagance but the far more limited claim that "the good in this state of existence preponderates over the bad."
Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, 1839, chapter 6.
Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation, was published in 1819.
Schopenhauer made an extravagant case that human life, at least, was for each and every one of us a losing game, on hedonist terms.
Historically, most hedonists, though not all - Google Hegesias, "the death persuader" - , have agreed with Epicurus and Henry Sidgwick against Schopenhauer that life is generally and for most of us, for a good while, at least, choiceworthy.
It has been speculated Hegesias was influenced by Buddhism.
About Schopenhauer there is no need for speculation.
(And a very amusing attack on aristocracy in the same chapter.)
Saturday, December 30, 2017
And they make no reference to Russian efforts to manipulate public opinion by using bots or pseudonymous accounts to spread anti-Hillary propaganda, whether or not the Russians and the Trump campaign were in cahoots in that effort.
It's all about the hacks.
Let’s start with the essential point that hacking into the computer systems of the DNC and the DCCC are crimes. Using a phishing attack to steal John Podesta’s email password is a crime.
Seeking to gain access stolen goods makes you an accessory to the crime and perhaps also a co-conspirator or conspirator after the fact.
I’ll leave it to lawyers and prosecutors to define the exact statutes that might be implicated, but if what the Russians did was criminal, and it was, then what Trump’s team was doing was also criminal.
. . . .
And if you work with a foreign power that has hacked into your own nation’s government computers, that could violate additional statutes.
If you offer things of value (like a relaxation in sanctions, for example) for stolen goods, that’s another crime.
. . . .
So, yes, there’s a big theory of the case that seeks to explain why Trump is so friendly with Vladimir Putin and eager to lift the sanctions on Russia.
. . . .
There’s a big collusion story and there’s a small one, too.
The small one is already proven.
Team Trump asked for stolen documents while knowing they were stolen.
They made good faith offerings (a change in the Republican Party platform, for example) and dangled sanctions relief in order to entice the Russians to share illegally obtained dirt on Hillary Clinton.
These are crimes.
Friday, December 29, 2017
The Trump administration is poised to roll back offshore drilling safety regulations that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history.
A proposal by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which was established after the spill and regulates offshore oil and gas drilling, calls for reversing the Obama-era regulations as part of President Trump’s efforts to ease restrictions on fossil fuel companies and generate more domestic energy production.
Doing so, the agency asserted, will reduce “unnecessary burdens” on the energy industry and save the industry $228 million over 10 years.
. . . .
In April Mr. Trump signed an executive order directing the Interior Department to “reconsider” several oil rig safety regulations.
Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, at the time did not specify which specific equipment regulations would be reviewed, saying only the review would apply “from bow to stern.”
. . . .
The Obama-era rules, written in 2016, tightened controls on blowout preventers, devices that are intended to stop explosions in undersea oil and gas wells, and called for rig operators to have third parties certify that the safety devices worked under extreme conditions.
In the Deepwater Horizon spill, a supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer failed after a section of drill pipe buckled.
Nearly one million coastal and offshore seabirds are estimated to have died in the spill, which spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the sea.
The accident led to the largest environmental settlement in the nation’s history, with the oil giant BP agreeing to pay $18.7 billion in civil penalties and damages to the federal government and affected states.
Environmental groups warned that reversing the safety measures would make the United States vulnerable to another such disaster.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
La réticence à la vaccination se développe dans l’archipel indonésien, notamment pour des raisons religieuses.
Par conséquent, la diphtérie, longtemps éradiquée, a fait son retour dans plusieurs régions.
He, the army, and the security forces of Peru killed a lot of reds during a desperate struggle against a variant of the red plague all too close in spirit to the Khmer Rouge.
But by no means all of them, and those killed left family, friends, and admirers whose hate and thirst for vengeance are deathless.
Fujimori gracié: un dernier sursaut d'impunité en Amérique latine?
Fujimori sur son lit d'hôpital, Pinochet en chaise roulante, Rios Montt et ses troubles mentaux: malgré les crimes commis sous leurs ordres, ces dirigeants latino-américains à la santé fragile ont bénéficié d'une clémence dénoncée comme une impunité par les défenseurs des droits de l'homme.
Si l'annonce d'une grâce présidentielle pour l'ex-chef d'Etat péruvien, condamné pour crimes contre l'humanité, a fait déferler dans la rue des milliers de Péruviens en colère, elle a aussi suscité de vives critiques de l'ONU.
Le représentant régional du Haut commissaire aux droits de l'homme, Amerigo Incalcaterra, a appelé à "éviter toute situation pouvant mener à l'impunité".
Demandant "pardon du fond du coeur", Alberto Fujimori, 79 ans, a reconnu mardi avoir "déçu une partie de (ses) compatriotes".
Un euphémisme par rapport à la sévérité de sa condamnation: 25 ans de réclusion, notamment pour l'assassinat de 25 personnes aux mains d'un escadron de la mort durant son combat contre la guérilla du Sentier lumineux sous sa présidence (1990-2000).
A little scary she fell for this.
Maybe a little more than a little.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley became the latest victim of well-known Russian phone pranksters Vladimir Krasnov and Aleksey Stolyarov, aka Vovan and Lexus.
Impersonating Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the Russian pranksters expressed concern about violation of human rights in Ukraine.
Ambassador Haley responded that the US appreciate Poland’s support during the recent voting in UNGA.
However, Poland wasn’t on a list of US supporters in the case, but abstained from voting.
In a 22 minute recording of the conversation in question the voice that Russian pranksters claim belongs to Nikki Haley is heard supporting the fake Polish PM by politely responding to all sorts of nonsense.
At one point, the prankster asked Haley what her opinion is on an imaginary South China Sea island – Binomo.
He even spelled the name so Haley would know exactly which island was the topic of the conversation.
The island, however, does not exist on the world map, but Haley said "the US is watching the situation there very carefully“.
“Do you know Binomo?” the impersonator asked.
“They have declared independence. They had elections, and we suppose Russians had its intervention.”
“Yes, of course they did, absolutely,” Haley confidently replied.
Expressing concern on eventual Russian meddling in the non existing issue, Haley assured the fake Polish PM that the US is on top of it.
“We manage them [Russians] and we continue to remind them what their place is,” she replied.
The conversation further took a lighter note with Polish PM gossiping on how Kevin Spacey allegedly visited Ukraine in 2015 and victimized the country’s president.
Nikki Haley has neither officially denied nor confirmed the authenticity of the conversation.
Among President Trump’s worrisome nominees to the judiciary, perhaps none is as alarming as Thomas Alvin Farr, a protégé of Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator, and a product of the modern white supremacist machine that Mr. Helms pioneered.
Helms pioneered "the modern white supremacist machine" can be true only if there is one and only one modern white supremacist machine, and he pioneered it.
Is there? Did he?
On the other hand, the article amply supports applications of the label, "white supremacist," to both Helms and Barber.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
He does not make laws.
So how much ability does the president have to "reverse" American immigration policy?
A Trump outburst on immigration
The usual media are right now beating him up for making racist remarks in a meeting on the topic.
It does not seem he actually did that, though his remarks were certainly angrily derogatory and there is not much doubt of his personal unflattering view of the world's darker hued folks.
Not the first time he and the GOP have been given a bum rap regarding words.
In June, reading a document by Buchananite Miller aloud at a meeting on immigration, he made these specific remarks about Haitians and Nigerians, to which his enemies have responded with their usual tired outrage.
According to six officials who attended or were briefed about the meeting, Mr. Trump then began reading aloud from the document, which his domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, had given him just before the meeting.
The document listed how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017.
More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.
Haiti had sent 15,000 people.
They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.
Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added.
Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.
How ya gonna keep 'em
down on the farm,
after they've seen Pareeee?
How you gonna keep 'em
away from Broadway,
jazzin' aroun', paintin' the town?
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denied on Saturday morning that Mr. Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.
“General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Nielsen and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims,” she said, referring to the current White House chief of staff, the national security adviser and the secretaries of state and homeland security.
.. “It’s both sad and telling The New York Times would print the lies of their anonymous ‘sources’ anyway.”
While the White House did not deny the overall description of the meeting, officials strenuously insisted that Mr. Trump never used the words “AIDS” or “huts” to describe people from any country.
Several participants in the meeting told Times reporters that they did not recall the president using those words and did not think he had, but the two officials who described the comments found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time.
. . . .
But while Mr. Trump has been repeatedly frustrated by the limits of his power, his efforts to remake decades of immigration policy have gained increasing momentum as the White House became more disciplined and adept at either ignoring or undercutting the entrenched opposition of many parts of the government.
The resulting changes have had far-reaching consequences, not only for the immigrants who have sought to make a new home in this country, but also for the United States’ image in the world.
“We have taken a giant steamliner barreling full speed,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. “Slowed it, stopped it, begun to turn it around and started sailing in the other direction.”
It is an assessment shared ruefully by Mr. Trump’s harshest critics, who see a darker view of the past year.
Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration group, argues that the president’s immigration agenda is motivated by racism.
“He’s basically saying, ‘You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people,’” said Mr. Sharry, an outspoken critic of the president.
“He’s come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes underway in America.”
Granted that his intentions are exactly as Sharry says, again, how far can he go without the congress itself making suitable changes in the law?
Part of the GOP congress would almost certainly support him in such an effort, but part would oppose him and all Democrats would.
Too, the current law does not seem geared either to keeping America white or to stopping it being so.
Changes to the law that prioritized keeping America white would certainly be challenged in the federal courts on the grounds that the US constitution forbids racial discrimination in immigration law, a view no court has yet espoused but which might get endorsed by the Supremes, push come to shove.
Likely all the Democrats would espouse that view, so if even one Republican joined them it would become the new constitutional normal.
And that would annoy the living hell out of Pat Buchanan, eh?
In any case, so far as I know, lawful immigration is not making all that big a contribution to "the browning of America."
Most of it is due to illegal immigration from Latin America, no?
A form of immigration that is down to a trickle and that Bozo nevertheless wants to address with the ridiculous and uselessly expensive project of his "big, beautiful wall."
Too, it appears that the priorities written into legal immigration make it a source of economic strength, allowing entry to people who are highly productive rather than any sort of drag.
It is illegal immigration that comprises mostly the unskilled, the uneducated, and criminals - the sorts who have an adverse impact on low-end wage levels.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
They make Hollywood and the Congress look like congregations of choirboys
A Judgment Day Cardinal Law Can’t Avoid
Double standard, anyone?
Impunity for the Church and its big shots?
Oh, my, yes.
Pope Francis will participate in a funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, who, for many Catholics, is the institutional face of the scandal.
Pope Francis, the Holy Father many Catholics prayed would finally hold men like Cardinal Law to full account, will instead continue to honor him in death.
The victims were as young as 4 years old.
Many came from poor families, led by single parents or immigrants who turned to the church for help, and to priests like Boston’s John Geoghan as an example for their sons.
Mr. Geoghan preyed on and raped children like these for the duration of his priesthood.
But Mr. Geoghan was one of the many pedophile priests whom Cardinal Law spent decades shielding and shifting from one parish to the next, supplying them with ever more victims, building a temple of lies.
. . . .
It emerged that the Archdiocese of Boston had settled claims against at least 70 priests in the decade before 2002, most in secret.
The number of claims against the archdiocese has only grown since then.
Cardinal Law “put child molesters over children; it’s that simple,” Eric MacLeish, a lawyer who has represented more than 200 sexual abuse victims in the Boston Archdiocese, said after Cardinal Law’s death.
John Geoghan was defrocked and jailed.
Forced to resign in 2002, Cardinal Law later retreated to the splendor of the Vatican.
There, unpunished, he had multiple leadership roles, including on a committee advising the pope on bishops’ assignments.
His chosen bishops still lead many American dioceses.
He does keep his promises to Sheldon and to Bibi.
A UN security council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been backed by every council member except the US, which used its veto.
The unanimity of the rest of the council was a stark rebuke to the Trump administration over its unilateral move earlier this month, which upended decades of international consensus.
The Egyptian-drafted resolution did not specifically mention the US or Trump but expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem”.
A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, responded to the veto by saying it was “unacceptable and threatens the stability of the international community because it disrespects it”.
The UK and France had indicated in advance that they would would back the text, which demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The resolution was denounced in furious language by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who described it as “an insult” that would not be forgotten.
“The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” she said.
“It’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts,” she added.
“The fact that this veto is being done in defence of American sovereignty and in defence of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the security council.”
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted: “Thank you, Ambassador Haley. On Hanukkah, you spoke like a Maccabi. You lit a candle of truth. You dispel the darkness. One defeated the many. Truth defeated lies. Thank you, President Trump.”
Jerusalem vote: Trump threatens to cut aid to countries ahead of UN vote
President Donald Trump's threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has raised the stakes in Thursday's U.N. vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193 U.N. member states on Tuesday that the U.S. would retaliate against countries that vote in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling on the president to rescind his decision.
She said Trump asked her to report back on countries "who voted against us" — and she stressed that the United States "will be taking names."
Brushing Aside Trump’s Threats, U.N. General Assembly Condemns U.S. Decree on Jerusalem
The overwhelming majority of the world’s nations delivered a stinging rebuke to the United States on Thursday, denouncing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ignoring President Trump’s bombastic threats of revenge.
In what amounted to a collective act of defiance toward Washington, ambassadors of the 193-member General Assembly voted 128 to 9, with 35 abstentions, to approve a nonbinding resolution demanding that the United States rescind the Dec. 6 decision on Jerusalem, the contested holy city, which also included a plan to relocate the American Embassy there.
U.N. votes on resolution condemning U.S. decision on Jerusalem
The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday on a resolution condemning President Trump's new policy recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Mr. Trump says he'll be watching very closely at which members of the General Assembly vote for the resolution and which vote against it.
The resolution states that any decision to change the status of Jerusalem is null and void, has no legal effect, and that it must be rescinded.
It's also calling on member countries not to set up diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.
Suppose in 2018 the Democrats capture the Congress.
Will Trump follow Madero's example and convene a rubber stamp "constituent assembly" to retain control over legislation?
Venezuela Puts Up Roadblock for Opposition in Next Presidential Vote
CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly, the political body created by President Nicolás Maduro as an end run around the legislature, on Wednesday made it harder for opposition politicians to run for president.
In an unanimous vote — a turn of events increasingly common in the Constituent Assembly — lawmakers adopted a decree declaring that political parties that want to participate in coming elections must have been active in previous ones.
The could mean trouble for the three biggest opposition parties, which called on members to abstain in protest from recent municipal elections.
“It’s the way they have to establish control of the coming presidential elections,” said Nicmer Evans, a political analyst and former independent candidate for mayor in Caracas, the capital.
The presidential election will take place next year, on a date still to be determined.
The governing party had already confirmed that Mr. Maduro will run again, but the opposition has not named any candidates yet.
Now, they may not be able to.
The decree could prevent all their candidates from taking part in the election.
And he promised to "drain the swamp," attacking lobbying but also specifically attacking the idea of writing tax laws to suit the aforementioned swamp things.
Joe Scarborough on the tax bill
The Morning Joe crew discussed the implications of the Republican tax bill, pointing out it is nothing like what Trump promised voters.
"That's actually a great reminder of what this president and Steve Bannon promised American voters in the fall of 2016: that the world is run by multinational corporations, that hedge funders and Goldman Sachs and all of these huge corporatists across the globe dominate your life," Joe Scarborough said.
"They passed a tax bill that's being celebrated by the largest multinational corporation on the planet.
"It's being celebrated by hedge fund managers and being celebrated by billionaires that want to pass on as much of their money to the billionaires-in-waiting that are their children.
"This is -- this is the biggest corporation pro-hedge fund manager tax cut that's ever happened. Ronald Reagan's was an across-the-board middle class tax cut.
"How do they square that when they go home?"
. . . .
"While some Americans don't understand carried interest, they do understand billionaires paying 14% tax rates year in and year out.
"They will understand as they go to the polls next year, that what Donald Trump has done has made the rich even more comfortable, made the poor even more strapped.
"Has caused health care, the foundation of our healthcare system, to be shaken.
"I mean, they may not have to have a perfect definition for what carried interest is, but they will know this was a sop to the rich," Scarborough said.
The Demos Institutes's Heather McGhee agreed.
"That's right. and they'll understand that this bill rewards wealth over work. if you make your money because you inherited it from your wealthy parents or because you look at the newspaper and the stock market has gone up and that's what you've done today, great, I made another $10,000, this is a windfall.
"But if you make your money by pushing a broom or caring for people, you may get a less than 1% increase in your after-tax income in 2019, but your health insurance premiums will go up by about 10%, and good news, Paul Ryan says next year we're going to use the excuse of the $1.5 trillion deficit to come after your Social Security and Medicare.
He also ran on promises to make Social Security and Medicare better and stronger.
They are both schedule for cuts when the deficit balloon set up by this tax bill inflates.
A tax bill he could not cheer and trumpet enough.
By the way, Joe sounds more and more like Mika, all the time.
Good for her, and good for him.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
The son of a bitch never went to prison, and should have. For a long time.
Bernard Law, Powerful Cardinal Disgraced by Priest Abuse Scandal, Dies at 86
He is not the only one who belongs in prison for all this.
Harvey Weinstein's Former Assistant Breaks Her Silence on 'Repulsive Monster'
Monday, December 18, 2017
A Republican acquaintance - a Trump voter - reports she recently saw a video explaining that years ago all the major media agreed on the facts, almost always.
But now they don't.
She gave one example: according to some, Trump is the worst president ever, while according to others he is the best.
And that's why the country is so bitterly and deeply divided.
It's good I have her to tell me these things.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Defoe's paen in the first chapter of Robinson Crusoe makes me wonder at the difference between the American Democrats, who claim to be the party of our middle class, and the social democrats and socialists and even communists of Europe, who claim to be parties of the working class.
It is very clear that his middle class is not the working class, but also is certainly not "the ruling class," the plutocracy, the absolute elite.
Reading Robinson Crusoe, 1719.
Impoverished, Amory is seemingly radicalized praising the Bolsheviks and demanding public ownership of the means of production in America.
He coins an amusing description for smart and educated people - intellectuals, he calls them - tamed to the system.
"Spiritually married men," he calls them.
And yet he remains convinced of the essential role of the Catholic Church in forcing morals on the masses, of commanding "Thou shalt not!" when no one and nothing else can.
A view of the most rigid conservatives.
George Will, for example.
This Side of Paradise.
Orwell, meditating revolutionary socialist dictatorship, defined power as the ability to make men suffer.
Furet, contemplating the history of Communism's depredations in the 20th Century, explained its revolutions, civil wars, and democides by attributing all of it to the most abject hatred of the bourgeoisie.
Not the self-interest, desire for well-being, or even jealousy or greed of the masses.
Their sheer destructive hatred of the high and the mighty.
Now consider the crusade of the American billionaires to destroy the great legacy of progressivism, doing all they can to plunge the working class once again into the worst horrors of 19th Century wage slavery.
They are too rich already for this to be about self-interest or their own well-being.
Nor, obviously, can it be about jealousy or envy of the masses.
It could be, but it is not likely, pathological greed.
Might the motive of Koch style, radical Republican politics not be a fierce malevolence, a real and definite desire to greatly and grievously harm the low and the weak, out of sheer hate?
Who in turn is with Zephyr Teachout.
Rape might be like cancer.
But a pat on the butt?
Anger spills over into misadry.
Why victims don't get to decide punishment.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
A small break for the wife and me for two years, and then back to the same.
But our Medicare and Social Security will be highly vulnerable when the Republicans start screaming about the deficit they have ballooned with permanent, large cuts in the estate tax and corporate rates.
That, of course, is exactly their idea.
The rich need that money so much more than we do.
Meals on wheels, food stamps, medicaid, so many other things will get the axe, too.
And the bill kills the individual mandate in a malicious drive-by, too.
Will the Democrats campaign on repealing the huge tax breaks for the plutocracy?
Will that work?
Trump's only role in the tax bill so far has been to echo standard GOP lies about trickle down and the Laffer curve (remember that?) in substance though not in name.
His biggest contribution will be to not veto it.
It could not survive a veto.
Were he in reality the friend of the common man he pretends to be he would kill this atrocity in a heartbeat.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise.
24, when he published this allegedly largely autobiographical novel, his first.
A racist, a nativist, and a snob, judging by the main character.
"Germany stood for everything repugnant to him; for materialism and the direction of tremendous licentious force[.]"
Why Amory Blaine believed in the war.
His two years in the army he relates - no, ignores - in a period of six pages.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
And how could he or anyone cope with America's built-in democracy deficit, the Electoral College that took the prize from the people's choice and gave it to Trump in 2016, he being the very demagogue from whom the Framers hoped the EC would save us?
A phenomenon that might actually become more common as blue voters concentrate in coastal and highly urban, deep, deep blue states while red voters are more spread out, only thinly dominating in their not much more than pink states.
And who says JB would even be the people's choice, anyway?
Who thinks he could mobilize enough support to beat Bozo or his replacement, next time out?
What would the opinion leaders of black Democrats do?
What would the phony Democrats of the Sanders type do?
He's too old, too white, too male, and too Clinton.
He missed his chance.
He's past it.
Being a Democrat is not proof an FBI agent or attorney is out to "bring down" the president by any means necessary, much less of claims they or the Russiagate investigation, headed by Bush Republican Mueller appointed by Bush Republican Rosenstein, are "illegitimate and corrupt".
The Times is right about the mendacity, irresponsibility, and point of these attacks.
Fox News v. Robert Mueller
But in Fox’s alternate universe, the investigation is “illegitimate and corrupt,” or so says Gregg Jarrett, a legal analyst who appears regularly on Mr. Hannity’s nightly exercise in presidential ego-stroking.
“Mueller’s stooges literally are doing everything within their power, and then some, to try and remove President Trump from office,” Mr. Hannity said last Wednesday.
“What a total travesty! They should all step aside,” Ms. Ingraham said last week, almost gleefully, about the supposed conflicts of interest permeating the special counsel’s highly experienced team of investigators. “Including Bob Mueller.”
Perhaps the most inflammatory rhetoric has come from Ms. Pirro, the host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine” and a “presidential favorite,” according to The Times.
“There is a cleansing needed in our F.B.I. and Department of Justice,” Ms. Pirro said Saturday, in her most unhinged rant yet.
“It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.”
Ms. Pirro named, among others, James Comey, the former F.B.I. director (“so political, so corrupt”); Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s deputy director, apparently in the tank for Hillary Clinton; and Peter Strzok, a top counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller removed from the investigation after learning of private text messages he sent in 2016 criticizing Mr. Trump and praising Mrs. Clinton.
Topping her list of outlaws was, of course, Mr. Mueller, who she said “can’t come up with one piece of evidence!” Maybe she just forgot about the indictments and guilty pleas?
Ms. Pirro, a former New York prosecutor and judge, didn’t allege any actual crimes, just that Mr. Mueller and his people are guilty of “attempting to destroy Trump.”
It would be one thing if Ms. Pirro were only spouting off on television.
But she is a friend of Mr. Trump’s and has met privately with him and his top advisers to sell her half-cocked theories.
After Mr. Trump’s victory last year, she interviewed to be his deputy attorney general, a job that would have empowered her to fire Mr. Mueller on her own.
To put it mildly, this is insane.
. . . .
When the propagandists say, “Get rid of Mueller,” it’s not the truth they’re trying to protect; it’s Mr. Trump himself.
Any genuine interest in objective reality left the building a while ago, replaced by a self-sustaining fantasyland.
If it’s hard to understand how roughly three-quarters of Republicans still refuse to accept that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — a fact that is glaringly obvious to everyone else, including the nation’s intelligence community and Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson — remember that a majority of the same people continue to believe that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
There was a time not too long ago when Republicans in Congress seemed genuinely interested in protecting Mr. Mueller — who, it bears noting, was originally appointed to head the F.B.I. by George W. Bush and who was named special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, also a Bush appointee.
But Fox’s alt-reality vortex has sucked in previously levelheaded members of the G.O.P. like Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who said as recently as October that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Mr. Trump tried to fire Mr. Mueller.
Last Friday, Mr. Graham tweeted in support of “a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia.”
On Monday night, according to Axios, Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, called for a special prosecutor to investigate … the special prosecutor.
The tipping point?
An article on Fox News’s website about a top Justice Department official’s wife and her work for Fusion GPS, the research firm behind the so-called Steele dossier.
None of these attacks or insinuations are grounded in good faith.
The anti-Mueller brigade cares not a whit about possible bias in the Justice Department or the F.B.I. It simply wants the investigation shut down out of a fear of what it might reveal.
But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry?
No special counsel can be appointed except in case there is evidence of a crime, and nothing in the texts or emails to which the rightist loonies allude is evidence of anything like that.
Smells medicinal, to me.
More so than whiskey generally, I mean.
Not much for Scotch, at all.
It does go down easy, though.
Makes my tongue feel somewhat stung.
Cutty does that, too.
A Scotch thing?
Some of the new Ryes are good.
Canadian Club and Wild Turkey, for instance.
Among dirt cheap Bourbons, Heaven Hill is nice.
And noticeably a Bourbon.
More character than Canadian Gold, whose chief virtue is having none.
Being cheap is its other virtue.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
I’m Not Convinced Franken Should Quit
Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality.
As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media.
Due process means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond.
And proportionality means that while all forms of inappropriate sexual behavior should be addressed, the response should be based on the nature of the transgressions.
Both were missing in the hasty call for Senator Franken’s resignation.
. . . .
[H]ere’s what a fair system might look like: Congress should empower an independent arbiter to investigate complaints — like a Government Accountability Office, with trained experts in the field.
Clearly understood mechanisms for reporting should be established.
A timetable should be set that ensures complaints receive a prompt response.
Both the accuser and the accused could submit questions and would have access to trained advocates and free legal consultation.
The independent arbiter would then make a nonbinding proposal addressing what happened and what should be done.
It could include a call to resign or for censure, or a range of other responses tailored to the findings.
This isn’t just about Senator Franken.
Other lawmakers have also been accused of harassment.
We need a system to deal with that messy reality, and the current one of investigating those complaints is opaque, takes too long and has not worked to protect vulnerable women and men from harassment.
And the current alternative — off with the head of the accused, regardless of the accusation — is too quick, too easily subject to political manipulation and too vulnerable to the passions of the moment.
But they also say that, apart from that, what matters to them is that he is a paladin of "Christian values," by which they do not mean to refer to his personal sexual conduct but to the place in the law of traditional Christian morality that he would defend and perhaps even seek to expand or restore.
They are perfectly clear that on abortion, gay rights, and anything to do with sexuality, he and the Democratic Party, and Doug Jones the Democrat running against him, are on completely opposite sides.
And that affects especially but not only how they would vote, for example, on The Duce's sociocon nominees for the federal bench.
(Steve Bannon has suggested that of greater concern to the DC Republican leadership is Moore's vote on the tax bill. He has claimed that after it is passed - assuming it is passed - they will dump Moore.)
Roy Moore and the Republican sociocons stand for Christian clericalism, what Andrew Sullivan calls "Christianism," legal enforcement of traditional Christian sexual morality and legal support for, even endorsement of, the tenets common to morally and theologically conservative forms of Christianity and the social importance of their widespread acceptance.
In contrast, the general run of Democrats are secularist and anticlericalist in their politics, firmly opposed to the legal enforcement of traditional Christian morals or legal encouragement or support for any form of the Christian - or any other - religion.
Moore's supporters understand all that perfectly well.
And that is why they voted for Trump and will vote for Moore.
Alabama Senate Race
If Mr. Jones wins, filling the seat left vacant when President Trump appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Republicans would see their Senate advantage dwindle to a single seat, putting their majority in play next year.
But should Mr. Moore survive, it would illustrate the enduring limitations of Democrats in the South and suggest that the tug of partisanship is a forbiddingly powerful force.
. . . .
When Mr. Moore’s campaign held its final rally in Midland City late Monday, it was Kayla Moore, the candidate’s wife, who grabbed the headlines.
Fake news would also have you think that my husband doesn’t support the black community.
Yet my husband appointed the very first black marshal to the Alabama Supreme Court, Mr. Willie James.
When he first took office as chief justice many years ago, he brought with him three people from Etowah County; two were black, and one of them is here tonight.
We have many friends that are black, and we also fellowship with them in church and in our home.
Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews.
I tell you all this because I’ve seen it all, so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here.
One of our attorneys is a Jew.
We have very close friends that are Jewish and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.The author of the Times report and TV talking heads not at Fox News are, so to speak, rolling their eyes at those remarks, cashing in on the bizarre notion, no doubt created by liberal propagandists, that anyone protesting charges of racism or anti-Semitism by pointing out he has black or Jewish employees, associates, or personal friends must be a racist or an anti-Semite.
Which is not to say Moore or his wire are not racists or anti-Semites.
She demanded Franken resign, and he has, effective at year's end so he'll be here for the big votes.
She demanded The Duce resign, and he has responded with exceptionally coarse insult and abuse.
President Trump forcefully entered the national debate about sexual harassment on Tuesday, again dismissing his own accusers as fabricating their stories and saying that a prominent Democratic senator, a woman, “would do anything” for campaign contributions and calling her a “lightweight.”
The president’s attacks came in early morning Twitter posts after several of the accusers had come forward on Monday to renew their charges that Mr. Trump had sexually assaulted them before he was president.
His Twitter attack also came after the senator, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, had called for him to resign.
. . . .
Ms. Gillibrand was quick to fire back, saying she would not be silenced by a president whose comments she described as “a sexist smear.”
“It was a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice, and I will not be silenced on this issue,” she said.
“Neither will the women who stood up to the president yesterday,” she added, referring to three accusers who spoke in Manhattan on Monday about their experiences.
Monday, December 11, 2017
They boycotted municipals and he is now saying, after the fact, that parties that did not participate in them cannot participate in the presidentials.
The sort of authoritarianism our own beloved Duce so much admires.
Après une nouvelle victoire du régime chaviste aux élections municipales du 10 décembre, notamment faute de candidats d’opposition, le président Nicolás Maduro menace d’écarter ses principaux adversaires des prochaines élections présidentielles, en 2018.
Le scrutin qui s’est déroulé le 10 décembre pour l’élection de 335 maires a connu une conclusion sans surprise : le parti chaviste au pouvoir, le PSUV, aurait remporté 330 mairies, selon des résultats annoncés par le Conseil électoral.
Dimanche soir, dans la foulée du rendez-vous électoral, le président Nicolás Maduro a annoncé une nouvelle mesure qui s’attaque directement aux partis d’opposition : “Les partis n’ayant pas participé à ce scrutin et ayant appelé au boycott des élections ne pourront pas participer à d’autres élections”, rapporte El País.
Le quotidien espagnol rappelle qu’en amont du scrutin du 10 décembre, les principaux partis de l’opposition avaient refusé de présenter des candidats à cette élection municipale.
Maduro quiere prohibir a las principales fuerzas de la oposición concurrir a las presidenciales
El presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, amenazó este domingo, durante la celebración de las elecciones municipales, con prohibir a las principales fuerzas de la oposición concurrir a las presidenciales de 2018.
"Partido que no haya participado hoy y haya llamado al boicot de las elecciones, no puede participar más", aseguró en una comparecencia, aludiendo a las organizaciones lideradas por Henry Ramos Allup, Leopoldo López y Henrique Capriles.
Be glad they're not moving troops or arms up to that border.
They entered the Truman's and IKE's Korean War as soon as it looked like our side was going to finish off the Communist government of the North.
And to make it more scary, this.
North Korean Submarine Missile Threat Prompts U.S.-Led Military Drills
The Treasury Department released a one-page analysis of the nearly 500-page Senate tax bill on Monday that suggested the $1.5 trillion plan would more than pay for itself, assuming the economy grows much faster than any independent analysis of the bill has projected.
The Treasury acknowledged that its analysis was based on optimistic economic forecasts that assumed a host of policy changes yet to be enacted, including increased infrastructure spending, further loosening of business regulations and changes to welfare programs.
The analysis left many tax experts scratching their heads and prompted criticism that the Treasury was offering misleading data.
When a party committed to bullshit is in power, the agencies it controls will also be committed to bullshit.
So Moore really is OK with slavery, but that's not a problem because he won't be voting on slavery in the US senate
CNN Analyst Defends Roy Moore: He Won't Be Voting On Slavery
This was said by an "analyst" hired by CNN to defend Moore???
In a knockdown segment, Ed Martin, a CNN commentator and rabid Trump supporter defended Roy Moore's candidacy after he said America was better under slavery by claiming Jews still loved each other under Nazi occupation and Moore won't be voting on slavery.
. . . .
As I wrote earlier, David Frum is correct. Not only is CNN hiring and branding lying liars to defend Trump by spreading falsehoods, they are extending their tactics to suspected pedophiles like Roy Moore. All in the name of bringing "controversy" to cable news discussions.
And not to deflect, Ed Martin was despicable. Especially when confusing the issue of African slavery in Alabama with the Jews triumph over slavery in the Old Testament. Moore supporters in Alabama would know exactly how to read between the lines on Martin's argument -- Old Testament patriarchs like Roy Moore get to do whatever they want with young girls and have opinions about slavery.
Well, heck, both testaments are OK with slavery, actually.
And OK with some pretty shocking behavior on the part of their heroes.
But nothing gay, of course.
As to that, well, remember Sodom?
Judge rules transgender people can enlist in military, denying Trump bid to delay deadline
You have to wonder how that's going to work out in the barracks and the shower rooms.
They don't call themselves Mainiacs for nothing.
Read up on Moore and this crazy radio show in the granite state in this piece by Steve M.
Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore appeared on a conspiracy-driven radio show twice in 2011, where he told the hosts in an interview that getting rid of constitutional amendments after the Tenth Amendment would 'eliminate many problems' in the way the US government is structured.
. . . .
Moore made his comments about constitutional amendments in a June 2011 appearance on the "Aroostook Watchmen" show, which is hosted by Maine residents Jack McCarthy and Steve Martin.
The hosts have argued that the US government is illegitimate and who have said that the September 11, 2001, attacks, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook, the Boston bombing, and other mass shootings and terrorist attacks are false flag attacks committed by the government.
. . . .
In Moore's June appearance, one of the hosts says he would like to see an amendment that would void all the amendments after the Tenth.
"That would eliminate many problems," Moore replied.
"You know people don't understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended."
You'd think the true blue white supremacist - white male supremacist - right would reject everything from 13 on.
Slavery ended, citizenship and voting rights for blacks, equal protection for all, votes for women, the income tax, popular election of senators, votes for 18 year olds - and a lot of fuss about the presidency including succession to that office and, oh yeah, prohibition in and then out.
But 11 and 12?
And those "Aroostook Watchmen" sound like just completely bonkers hillbilly loons.
Who the hell gave them a radio show?
Who are their advertisers?
A 27-year-old man set off a pipe bomb strapped to his body during the morning rush hour on Monday, deep inside one of Manhattan’s busiest commuter corridors, the police said.
The blast echoed through the subway tunnels just off Times Square, and filled parts of the Port Authority Bus Terminal with smoke as commuters fled into the streets to escape what the authorities quickly concluded was an act of terror.
A suspect, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lived in Brooklyn, was in police custody.
He suffered burns to his hands and abdomen, and was in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital Center, according to Daniel A. Nigro, the commissioner of the New York Fire Department.
Four other people had minor injuries, he said.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
President Trump on Saturday called for a Washington Post reporter to be fired over a misleading tweet about the size of the crowd at a rally for the president on Friday in Pensacola, Fla.
The reporter, Dave Weigel, posted a picture of an arena with many empty seats. He deleted the tweet after learning that the venue had not yet filled up.
In the past two decades, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans — by some estimates as many as two million — have migrated abroad, with the tendency accelerating in the past several years during the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Nicolás Maduro.
The vast majority have been younger Venezuelans in the prime of their working lives.
Yet the huge flow of émigrés has also included a smaller number of older Venezuelans, driven abroad for many of the same reasons, including scarcities of food and medicine, soaring poverty and crime.
Many are following the steps of their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren who have been imploring them to leave, too.
But for older migrants, the decision to leave is fraught with unique anxieties and uncertainties: about access to health care in destination countries, about the loss of social networks and the comforts developed over a lifetime, about starting from scratch in a brand-new place just when they expected to be enjoying retirement.
. . . .
Mr. Reyes, who spent his career running small businesses, has glaucoma.
With medicine increasingly scarce in Venezuela, it has become a near-daily ordeal for him to visit as many as seven pharmacies in an often fruitless search for the eye drops he needs.
Ms. Reyes, a retired employee of Venezuela’s Education Ministry, was told by her doctor that the cancerous lesion on her forehead was probably the result of all the hours she was forced to stand in lines in the sun waiting to buy food or withdraw money from the bank.
As inflation has soared, the value of the couple’s pension has diminished.
The last three-milliliter bottle of drops Mr. Reyes bought cost him more than half his monthly pension.
An Abomination. A Monster. That’s Me?
This is his reply to a diatribe of racist hatred directed against whites in a college newspaper given its greatest publicity by Breitbart (of course) and Rod Dreher (ditto) at the end of last month and so extreme that at first I thought it was a hoax.
Imagine a college paper, somewhere, publishing excerpts from The Turner Diaries and you'll get the idea.
Bruni joins Dreher and Breitbart in deploring the violent anti-white hate rhetoric of the racist left, but while they exploit that racism to vindicate and even support the "circle the wagons" mentality that drives so many whites to the side of Trump and white nationalism he deplores exactly that use and that consequence.
If the people who feel that way about whites - and notoriously about white liberals, especially - find out where he lives, Bruni could easily find himself in physical danger.
He can be sure a great deal of vitriolic sewage will be spilt out over his head in coming days and weeks, and it may get so bad we see him, his self-respect shredded, in sackcloth and ashes.
Just as the right smears Democrats by association with these anti-white racists (and it is a smear, right? despite Ta-Nehisi Coates and maybe Charles Blow?), the left smears the Republicans and even the Trumpists by lumping everyone together from those who object to affirmative action to those who long for the extermination of nonwhites from the face of the Earth.
And we all pay for it as our politics are increasingly about our reciprocal racial estrangement and its ever worse and more frightening consequences.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
And he's not even writing about Bozo, whose total unconcern with truth has inured us all to discounting everything he says, regarding his words as contributing absolutely nothing to any discussion of reality.
Surveys done by the University of Minnesota and George Mason University have shown that the supposedly impartial “fact checking” news organization [PolitiFact] rates Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims and twice as much, respectively.
Notice the implicit assumption here – namely, that impartial fact-checking would find an equal number of false claims from each party.
But what if – bear with me a minute – Republicans actually make more false claims than Democrats?
Take a not at all arbitrary example: tax policy.
The GOP is deeply committed to the proposition that tax cuts pay for themselves, a view that has no support whatsoever from professional economists.
Can you find any comparable insistence on a view experts consider false on the Democratic side?
Similarly, the GOP is deeply committed to climate change denial, despite the overwhelming consensus of scientists that anthropogenic climate change is real and dangerous.
Again, where’s the Democratic counterpart?
There are, of course, individual liberals who say things that aren’t true, on all sorts of issues.
But huge falsehoods by major party figures – where by falsehood I mean something demonstrably false, not a view you disagree with – are far more common on the right than the left.
. . . .
Whatever the deep explanation, however, the parties are not the same.
And trying to pretend that they are the same isn’t just foolish, it’s deeply destructive.
Indeed, it’s one important reason Donald Trump sits in the White House.
Reminds me of people unwilling to absorb the fact that black people have more, and more unfortunate, interactions with the legal justice system than whites because and in proportion as they commit more crimes than whites, of the sort that actually might get noticed by the justice system.
This carnival barker is the perfect front man for the class war agenda of the standard, establishment Republicans
Trump Rallies a Florida Crowd in Support of an Alabama Senate Candidate
Mr. Trump was about 45 minutes into his speech, though, before he even mentioned Mr. Moore. But when prompted to do so by a man in the crowd, the president quickly obliged.
“This guy’s screaming, ‘We want Roy Moore,’” Mr. Trump said. “He’s right. How many people here are from the great state of Alabama?”
The president also highlighted a discrepancy in the story of one Mr. Moore’s accusers and said voters should be wary of her lawyer, Gloria Allred.
“The future of this country cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate,” Mr. Trump said.
“We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. His name is Jones and he’s their total puppet,” a reference to Mr. Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
“We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda,” the president said, adding, “So get out and vote for Roy Moore.”
The MAGA agenda is a smokescreen behind which the Congressional GOP has gone bare-knuckle from the start, their massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich being only their most visibly outrageous and successful move.
The Donald is all showman, and everything about him and his presidency that Bannon, Buchanan, and the trailer-trash of the rust belt love, including his all over the map handling of race, is showmanship.
The only reality in DC is that the GOP Congress is fighting its class war while Bozo appoints a flood of standard-issue conservative Republicans, enemies of everything any progressive of any political party ever built or stood for, to the federal bench and a multitude of other positions throughout the government.
What they see and love and cheer is him, Bozo, The Duce, the reality-TV president.
What they and we get is them, the standard-issue, class warrior conservatives of the Republican Party in the Congress, and wherever else Trump can place them, all of them out to roll back a century of progressive changes in our society, our politics, and our government.
Only once in a while something that the president played by Donald Trump promised or demanded has to actually be made real, to maintain the conflation of reality and reality TV that is the beating heart of this presidency.
End of DACA.
End of the individual mandate, and of government subsidies for purchase of health insurance through Obamacare.
Maybe a wall.