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26.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Just this one thing Permalink to this item

Trump said "I've been all over," meeting people, listening to them complain about politicians, and yes, firing them up. He's been really busy. Explaining why he seemed so weirdly unprepared for this important event? Clinton responded:

"I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. Yes I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And I think that's a good thing."

The moment in tonight's debate

Update: Ok, one more thing: Jonathan Chait's take on what the Trump campaign communicated to the New York Times ahead of the debate: that he's a lazy idiot.

"Trump’s attention span is so limited that his advisers have given up on getting him to focus on preparation and simply hope he can pay attention throughout the actual debate."

Missed it by that much.

Seven seals Permalink to this item

The first draft of history is always more descriptive than explanatory. It's easier to identify what has been thrown by the wayside, the curious jetsam of a political culture gone bad, without trying to determine why it was cast away (let alone the more comprehensive question of how can this be?).

We gave up "facts" a few cycles ago, when George W. Bush's Rasputin derided the "reality-based community" in favor of an American empire creating its own reality. (The Middle East crumbles as testament to the possibility, but maybe not quite the way Karl Rove imagined. We got the "creative destruction" half right, anyway.)

From Wikipedia's entry for the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse

Consistency has always been difficult to maintain. The light at the end of the tunnel of randomness turns out to be contradiction, from one day, speech, tweet to the next. Integrity was always a tall order, and life will be a lot simpler without that. Civility and decency, well, those were just political correctness run amok, were they not?

"Law and order" is enjoying a revival with all the racist baggage intact, but writ larger, to a global vision. The derangement of Rudy Guiliani still boggles my mind. "Anything is legal" he said on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. Back in the day, when we were preparing to escalate the long war in Iraq to "Shock and Awe" and a more target rich environment, we still expected a bit of subtlety. Paul Wolfowitz provided that, in his testimony to the House Appropriations committee on March 27, 2003.

"There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. And it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people... We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."

(The first of Ten Assurances by the Bush Administration helpfully cataloged by the film, "Leading To War.") 13 years on, we now have plans for the next Great Wall, which the Mexicans are going to pay for. ("Believe me.")

David Frum (once a speechwriter for George W. Bush, now senior editor at The Atlantic) described The Seven Broken Guardrails of Democracy four months ago. For all the crazy campaigning over the long summer, here we are, still off the road, dazed and blinking, wondering what the hell just happened? And what's going to happen next.

"As conservatism’s positive program has fallen ever more badly out of date, as it has delivered ever fewer benefits to its supporters and constituents, those supporters have increasingly defined their conservatism not by their beliefs, but by their adversaries. And those adversaries Donald Trump has made abundantly his own."

With friends like this, all we have are enemies.

24.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Neutered territory Permalink to this item

Browsing the memes on Facebook this morning, something in a tribal Zeitgeist vein: "So let me get this straight," it begins.

HE IS A COMPULSIVE LIAR *
HE IS A RACIST
HE IS A RELIGIOUS BIGOT
HE IS TWICE DIVORCED, HE ROBS AMERICAN STUDENTS WITH A FAKE UNIVERSTIY, HE IS A BILLIONAIRE WHO PAYS ZERO TAXES, HE IS A SERIAL PHILANDERER, HE TREATS WOMEN LIKE TRASH, HE HAS THE MANNERS OF A SPOILED CHILD, HE IS A FAILURE IN BUSINESS WITH 4 BANKRUPTCIES, HE HAS NO MILITARY OR POLITICAL EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER.

REPUBLICANS WANT TO ELECT HIM PRESIDENT

Image courtesy of 43rd State Blues

It's a hell of a testament to cognitive dissonance. Tribal loyalty trumps (!) sense and sensibility. Christians are on board because they think he'll appoint anti-abortion judges. The KKK is on board because they think they know one of their own. The NRA is with him because guns. Ted Cruz... well, who knows what Ted Cruz is thinking. That he'll fare better under a Republican president? It's not like it matters whether he's in the majority or minority of the Senate; he's a party of One either way.

Charles Pierce does a better job than I'm willing to do following up on the normalization of stupid that our USA tribe is undergoing. Unfortunately, it's more than the stupid. He links to David Neiwert's and Sarah Posner's rundown of the horde of neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other extremist leaders endorsing the GOP's candidate. Not for the faint of heart.

It could go without saying that the Republican nominee for president has not disavowed any of them, right? I mean, he'll take compliments from anyone, even the increasingly dictatorial president of Russia, and assume that they must be accurate assessments. "I think when he calls me brilliant I'll take the compliment, ok?"

Perhaps he'll even take a compliment from Ted Cruz. And overlook the previous assessments Cruz offered that he was a sniveling coward, a pathological liar, utterly amoral, a serial philanderer, and a bully, as well as his own declaration that he wouldn't accept an endorsement from Cruz.

"I don't want his endorsement. Just, Ted, stay home, relax, enjoy yourself."

* Related: A week of whoppers.

Equinox Permanent URL to this day's entry

Trick or treat Permalink to this item

A new day, a new wave of fundraising, alternating between the "good news / send more money!" and "bad news / send more money!" themes. (And always, always, measuring what works.) Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (not—ahem—in his official capacity, of course), under the subject "Please read (not good)" says

"Over the past three months, Nancy Pelosi crushed us in fundraising.

"In that time, they’ve outraised us by $16.6 million -- and that doesn’t include the money President Obama raised for House Democrats this month.

"Thomas -- I want to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her actions -- but I can’t do that if Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker. And with these numbers and this momentum, she may win back the House."

Screenshot

And yeah, there's another deadline -- the final FEC quarterly deadline before the election as he colors it. The punchline of his pitch is what prompts comment, given yesterday's item (on that "triple-match" vein): Ryan boldly says he pledge[s] to personally match every single gift made. Personally. In writing. Every single gift made. (Well, every gift made "through this secure link," purporting to be secure.speakerryan.com/contribute-speaker-ryan, but passing through links.nrccvictory.com with a URL and querystring coded for my email address, name, city, ZIP code, and who knows what else, just trust them, you don't need to know about that stuff, or any of the other financial details, right? The Speaker of the House wouldn't trick me, would he?)

The view without btstatic.com, victorypassport.com, betrad.com and nr-data.net allowed to have their way with javascripting is mildly amusing. Going to the written URL without traversing the data-logging site (or bringing my baggage tags), I see Mr. Speaker... Warning? Wagging? We're Number One? And the odd color scheme. Is he tired of red, white and blue for some reason? Maybe it's Hallowe'en themed, a bit of a spooky feel, the devil in the deep blue sea, and some billionaire gold in our up-and-to-the-right (distant) future? Or is that something finally trickling down our way?

21.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Notice of deliquency Permalink to this item

Irony isn't completely dead just yet; the RNC's zombie fundraising scam is back, and its trigger word makes a perfect caption for fearless leader Reince Preibus. Did he approve that message in exchange for a membership card in the Basket of Deplorables? Or is he too busy sweeping up elephant dung to keep track of what his organization is up to?

If you can't measure up to the ethics standards of the Direct Marketing Association, oh my. (For the younger readers in the audience, DMA = junk mail, what old people used to get before there was spam.) The Hill's contributor has an intereting angle, as former director of the United States Mint and the person who oversaw marketing to numismatists. (A.k.a. coin collectors, but what a fun word to write. And try to pronounce.)

"Direct mail campaigns are typically aimed at older, middle-class consumers because, unlike younger consumers, they read and respond to mail. Since U.S. Mint customers are older and middle class, I know this market.

"These consumers (and others) take their financial responsibilities very seriously. Failing to pay bills on time is not just an oversight; it's seen as a character flaw. ..."

That last sentence is spot on. The mere implication that I'm late on something is alarming to me. I'm not personally susceptible to appeals (let alone trickery) from Republican fundraisering, and not likely to pay an "invoice" "reflexively," but the inevitable question: does this actually work?

Politico reported [in 2010] that one GOP operative familiar with the practice said it was among the RNC's most lucrative fundraising schemes. "Of course, duping people is the point. ... That's one of the reasons why it works so well. ... They will likely mail millions this year [with] incredible targeting."

The author notes "there is special irony in the GOP, so anti-government and hostile to taxes, posing as the tax collector to deceive its small donors into funding the campaign of a billionaire," but only after tossing out a casual false equivalency: "No doubt, the Democratic National Committee has been tainted by its own fundraising practices," because... that was easier than actually doing any particular research on the question. Given the opposition's skill at publicizing anything with a whiff of scandal, how hard could it be? I found a 2013 piece from the Center for Public Integrity that you can compare. A pretend end-of-quarter deadline, unsubstantiated claims of being behind the competition, and dire consequences if the other side wins (alternating with positive messages—and carefully measuring who responds to what, I'm sure), a supposed "triple-match" incentive that's probably nonsense.

That's standard fare, and for as dubious as it may be, it can't compare with the RNC's straight-up violation of Title 39, United States Code, Section 3001, concerning Solicitations Disguised as Invoices, as explained by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, "one of our country’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies, founded by Benjamin Franklin, [with] a proud and successful history of fighting criminals who attack the nation’s postal system and misuse it to defraud, endanger, or otherwise threaten the American public."

"Con artists often make large mailings of illegal solicitations. Even if you are not fooled, you can help the Postal Inspection Service learn of such mailings by reporting the receipt of non-conforming solicitations to your local postmaster or the nearest Postal Inspector. The Postal Inspection Service may be able to prevent other business people from being victimized."

Sounds like an open and shut case.

20.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Snakes and ladders Permalink to this item

Image from Wikipedia

The blog post about the campaign as viewed from the extreme right just about writes itself from CHQ headlines and blurbs.

The Snake
By George Rasley, CHQ Editor
The Snake isn’t just a general metaphor for illegal aliens, it is a quite specific allusion to the deadly consequences of admitting more Muslims to our country, as Hillary Clinton demands we do.

The Snake is a general metaphor for illegal aliens?!

What’s More Depressing: Hillary’s Campaign Or The Thought Of Her As President?
By CHQ Staff
The vision of the future offered by Mrs. Clinton is more like one of the more depressing chapters in Ayn Rand’s classic novel Atlas Shrugged than “Morning in America.” But what's even more depressing is that when Donald Trump and his supporters are correct about the threats facing our country, the establishment media is so obsessed with defeating Trump that they attack him or claim he is jumping to conclusions when he is right.

Hung up there on the idea of selecting which of Rand's chapters are more or less depressing.

Presidential Horse Race 2016: Reince Priebus is right, GOP primary losers need to back Trump now
By Jeffrey A. Rendall
It shouldn’t take threats from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to get GOP primary losers onboard the Trump effort. Plus, Ample evidence that Trump is not only bringing in new voters, he’s adding new donors; Even with Trump’s rise in the polls, his detractors still say the Electoral College will sink him, and, Trump town hall in black church will be must-see TV on Wednesday night.

Threats from Reince Priebus don't sound scary enough to get the job done, do they? Another Trump show at a black church could be must-see TV, but hard to imagine in a good way. The first couple of tries were mighty cringeworthy, tough choice between the pre-scripted one and the one where he accused the pastor of ambushing him after he tried to make a stump speech out of it.

How To Put The Final Nails In Hillary’s Electoral Coffin
By George Rasley, CHQ Editor

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Presidential Horse Race 2016: Will Donald Trump’s messed up hair lead to a win in November?
By Jeffrey A. Rendall

Oh, Jimmy Fallon, you're dead to us now.

Trump's Speech on Jobs and Economic Growth
By George Rasley, CHQ Editors
Donald Trump's jobs and economic growth plan, conceived with the guidance of conservative economists Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow, with its emphasis on lower taxes and lighter regulation and its goal of adding 25 million jobs and achieving 4 percent economic growth is starting to look more and more Reagan-like.

Also, more warmed-over supply-side trickle-up economics mush.

Presidential Horse Race 2016: #NeverTrump should join the living in this year’s election
By By Jeff Rendall
The increasingly lonely forces of #NeverTrump can’t get themselves to join the fight so they must continue wandering in the dark alone. Plus, Turning the tables, Trump giving the Clintons a dose of their own medicine; Trump’s characterization of Michigan pastor as a “nervous mess” is much ado about nothing, and, Swing state polls show Trump gaining ground; Democrats are starting to panic.

Since being POTUS is the loneliest job in the world, there's no downside for George H.W. Bush at this point.

Colin Powell Summarizes Hillary Clinton In One Sentence
By George Rasley, CHQ Editors

While he was really glowing about the Donald? Perhaps the polysyllabic Powell punch line of "a national disgrace and an international pariah" was too hard to follow?

And so on.

17.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Friends, we've got trouble. Permalink to this item

Right here in River City.

We've got trouble, and that starts with "T" and that rhymes with "T" and that stand for "Trump."

Trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble.

Never mind the headline that says the tight race in a reliably Republican Ohio county (the most Republican county in the state, a prosperous suburb of Columbus) could spell trouble for Trump, this, in the transcript:

Retired educator Gail Carpenter is voting for Donald Trump.

GAIL CARPENTER: We need a bull in a China shop to break things up. It’s not working. The economy’s bad. I’m very worried about Iran and North Korea. I feel like he will do what he needs to do to keep us safe.

That was it, her 15 seconds of fame, the whole soundbite, all she had to say that made the nightly news, spent a little crazy. The Hells Angels theory of governance. We need someone to blindly, carelessly, just start smashing things. (How about The Hulk?!) It's like Tom and Daisy left the keys in the car and half the country took it for a joy ride and smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

Never mind that it's the story of our most recent war in Iraq and we and they (mostly they) are still paying the price for smashed up things and creatures. People are thinking this is our future, the way forward? Trump thinks we should take Iraq's oil. As his legal advisor, Rudy Guiliani pointed out, "Of course it's legal. It's a war."

Just the other side of the Ohio River, Roger Cohen's Views from Trump Country casts the need for that wild bull as "Somebody Spectacular." Or a loose cannon, say. Or a viral disease that inflames the brain, causes violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness (followed nearly always by death).

The president of the Kentucky Coal Association said “I cannot tell you how rabid the support for Trump is.”

Maybe not, but we're starting to get the picture. Never mind that the post-union auto industry came across the river too, and unemployment is 4.9% in Kentucky. Coal mining ain't what it used to be.

This state of mind is the same one that keeps sending Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate. You can accuse that delegation of a lot of things, but "spectacular" is not a word anyone has yet thought to apply.

“Trump’s appeal is nationalistic, the authoritarian shepherd of the flock,” Al Cross, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, told me. “That’s why evangelical Christians are willing to vote for this twice-divorced man who brags about the size of his penis. There’s a strong belief here still in America as special and exceptional, and Obama is seen as having played that down.”

It's like Teddy Roosevelt used to say: speak loudly and carry a big dick.

16.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Dressed for success Permalink to this item

The new defense strategy for the Bundy gang seems to be to figure out how to cause a mistrial and exhaust the government from prosecution. The mistrial seems like it could happen, sooner or later, but who knows about the exhaustion?

Ammon Bundy's lawyer, Marcus Mumford, asked Harney Co. Sheriff Dave Ward if he had looked into the 2014 armed standoff near Bunkerville in order to... well, who knows? But that opened the can of worms that yes he had, and found out that "some unstable people who had left that situation" killed two police officers while they were eating lunch in a restaurant, Maxine Bernstein reported for The Oregonian.

Objection, unresponsive! Um, no, you asked about all that. Ryan Bundy, representing himself, piped up. Hearsay! Or, uh, prejudicial! The judge agreed that it was that, never mind those killings.

Now Mumford wants a mistrial declared, and dismissal with prejudice to boot. Let us never speak of this again!

Also, Mumford took exception to the Sheriff's "indignant use of the word 'sir,' in the answer at issue." The reporter dryly notes that "Ward ended most of his responses to Mumford's questions by addressing him 'sir,' during his cross-examination," without commenting on the level of indignation Ward expressed.

The Judge does not, as yet, think we should call the whole thing off.

In other trial news, after the whole "authentic cowboy get-up" didn't pan out (no boots, no service?), Ammon's going a different direction, coming to court in his jail scrubs, and putting on as pathetic an appearance as possible. By his choice. And pretending he doesn't have one.

"Mr. Bundy desires to appear as he is, a political prisoner not free to dress as if presumed innocent," attorney J. Morgan Philpot said, reading his client's statement. "He would prefer to drop the façade and appear as the political prisoner he has been made."

Bundy also bemoaned how he has been "shuffled around in chains," "molested like an animal," and not given the "utensils" he needs to prepare for trial.

Ryan Bundy said him too, but no, he didn't want to change his clothes, actually, and stuck with his "dark suit jacket over a leather vest and plaid shirt." And the judge instructed the jury to pay no attention to the clothing. Or, by inference, its authenticity or lack thereof.

"You are not to draw any inference of any kind from his attire today or any day," Judge Brown said. That seems pretty well impossible to me. Inference #1 is, there is something very strange going on here. Inference #2, I am reminded that this man is in jail, and charged with a serious crime. Inference #3, that defendant has some serious problems.

But that's just me.

OPB has more detail of yesterday at the trial, more than half of which was testimony from the manager of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Chad Karges, He was asked why he didn't just ask the occupiers to leave. He said “it was not a safe environment to do that.”

The occupiers demonstrated that they weren't about to in any case; they claimed that if the people of the county wanted them to leave, they would, but put the lie to that in the first week of the occupation, and persisted in the weeks following.

15.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Cowboy justice, in process Permalink to this item

The mass trial of the Bundy gang is underway in Oregon, with OregonLive/The Oregonian and OPB the prime media suspects. The stunner from Wednesday was testimony from Lt. Brian Needham of the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, who happened to be the head guy when Bundy right-hand guy Ryan Payne showed up to get in the Sheriff's face for not being Constitutional enough.

Payne is not among those on trial just now; he pled guilty to to conspiracy to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs by using threats, intimidation or force, back in July. Here's the account from Courthouse News Service, explaining why that surprise plea makes more sense:

Needham said Payne came to the Harney County Sheriff's Office on Dec. 7, requesting a meeting with Ward. Since Ward wasn't around, Needham met with Payne himself.

Payne asked Needham if he believed in the U.S. Constitution. When Needham said yes, Payne told him to wrest control of the sheriff's office from Ward.

"He said I needed to remove Ward from office and take over because Ward is an unconstitutional sheriff," Needham told the jury. "He said I should use any means necessary, including death."

June, 2016 photo

This beggars the imagination, doesn't it? Walks into the freaking SHERIFF'S OFFICE, and since he's not there, talks to the Lieutenant instead, and tells him he needs to take over, and KILL THE SHERIFF if need be?

The story goes on to say Needham "demurred," I love that. It wasn't until February that he and Ward got around to reporting the incident to the FBI, after the occupation was over. It was a busy couple of months, and at that point in November, the threats probably didn't seem credible.

E&E Publishing reports from the trial too, with some of the defendants' colorful opening statements. Ryan Bundy was in "a green plaid cowboy shirt and black leather vest" to signify his cowboy authenticity, and bragging about the eight children he left behind to take over a bird sanctuary and go to jail for his beliefs.

It's about "despotism," don't you know. The just wanted "to be left alone and earn a living for our families," he said. "We were not there to impede. We were there to promote liberty."

Could this possibly persuade someone on the jury, wondering if all that is so, what are we doing here? The prosecutors will probably have some answers to that question. The representatives for the more pathetic defendants averred that their clients had got in over their heads. It seemed like such a jolly, righteous adventure at the time, I guess. Out there on the range, playing cowboy rancher freedom rider don't tread on me.

The Sheriff's precarious position, looking out for himself and his community is given more detail by Maxine Berstein's report for OregonLive. He says he didn't feel personally threatened by the gang, but you have to wonder how much of that is bravado, and/or his assessment of the moment-to-moment situation. When Ammon Bundy showed up on Nov. 19 with "about 10 other men, many of them armed," and they went to the courthouse law library for a big enough room to parley, the Sheriff ignored the "No Firearms" because he "wasn't going to pick a fight." "I believed I had the situation under control," Ward said.

Events proved him wrong, for as masterfully as he did manage to dodge most of the trouble threatening the place.

14.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Outsiders Permalink to this item

Congress is full of insiders, a few of whom are making their way by acting like "outsiders," which in practice is about the same as "tire boots." The likes of Idaho's Raúl Labrador are so determined to prove their ideology that government is bad and so only less government is better than where we are now, that they will stand in the way of anything, and everything, short of their own fundraising and re-election. (A man's got to have priorities, after all.)

As a group, their approval ratings are not just in the toilet, they are flushed down to the sewage lagoon, where they fester and stink up the neighborhood, while everyone whistles and looks around as if they did not fart. And yet... they pretty much all, always get re-elected, go figure. (Hint: it has something to do with really effective gerrymandering.)

The singular figure of the President of the United States is easier to focus inside/outside upon. By the end of one term, let alone two, there is no President who is not the ultimate insider, but for the eager aspirants to the job, quite a few have taken "outsider" as a badge of pride. It was a whole sub-genre in the Republican primary race, and even the insiders tried to look as outsidery as they could. "Who me? An insider? Au contraire!" Senator Ted Cruz isn't an insider, for example, because in spite of his six-figure salary for hardly ever going to the office (along with his 99 pals), and million-dollar staff and perks, he's made damn sure never to get anything done in the U.S. Senate. So there's that.

Donald Trump can truly claim to be an outsider to politics, other than the bribery he talked about openly, as if no rules could apply to him, rich as he pretends to be. And Mike Pence... well, he had the unhappy assignment of going up to Capitol Hill to make nice with the fellow Republicans only to find that a lot of them aren't actually having that. The NYT says he was "rebuffed," maybe some of the campaign team have a nicer word for what just happened.

But with John McCain—who you may remember was the GOP's candidate for POTUS just 8 short years ago—pointed out that the whole pal-of-Putin thing is just not on, this:

"Mr. Pence insisted that he and Mr. Trump were trying to belittle President Obama rather than to laud Mr. Putin."

How's that working out for you? Trying to play the part of "troubleshooting diplomat" and he just looks like a putz. About the only thing going for Trump up on the Hill is that a modest uptick in the polls suggested that maybe this won't be a total drubbing, and the "emergency measures" they were recently contemplating might not be necessary. But...

"Republicans may still activate those plans if Mr. Trump stumbles badly against Mrs. Clinton in the final stretch of the race. But for now, the party has adopted a middle-ground approach, with most Republicans in Washington nominally supporting Mr. Trump while advancing campaign messages that differ widely from his in almost every respect."

It's the deplorables, stupid. "Few Republicans want to confront thorny follow-up questions about Mr. Trump’s supporters." Like, I don't know, the one who cold-cocked a 69-year-old woman with COPD and needing an oxygen bottle to get around? (Hmm, maybe somebody needs to show her how to swing that thing.)

In Trump's wake Permalink to this item

The Atlantic has helpfully assembled The Many Scandals of Donald Trump. It's "a cheat sheet," ha ha.

The beauty pageant scandals, the racial housing discrimination, the mafia ties, the infamous Trump "University," the tenant intimidation, the four bankruptcies, the undocumented Polish workers, alleged marital rape, breaking casino rules, antitrust violations condo hotel shenanigans Corey Lewandowski suing journalist Tim O’Brien for libel refusing to pay workers and contractors ("1980s to present") Trump Institute buying up his own books undocumented models and last but not least, the two sizes too small Trump Foundation.

It's a hell of a list. Unlike the almost entirely cocked-up attacks on Clinton, these are actual scandals.

David Fahrenthold, burning up the shoe leather for the Washington Post, in search of Trump's charitable giving, checked in with the PBS Newshour tonight. Turns out that for a guy who says he's very, very rich, he seems to be very, very miserly. My emphasis on the "money quote" below:

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: He’s said over the years that he’s given the proceeds of a variety of things, books, TV shows, to charity, and it adds up to millions of dollars. He said he gives millions of dollars.

So, what I have done over the last few months is go looking for evidence that those gifts exist. I’m not trying the find all of them. I’m just trying to find some evidence that they’re out there. So, so far, I have called 326 charities. Now, these are charities that seem closest to Trump, people he’s given Trump Foundation money to, he’s gone to their galas, he’s spoken positively of these charities.

I have called 326 looking for evidence that there were these personal gifts from Trump out of his pocket. And between 2008 and this May, I found just one gift out of his own pocket. That was in 2009. It was for less than $10,000.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when you ask the campaign about that, what do they say, when you have asked them for evidence of the giving?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: They have been very slippery on this....

His campaign manager is trying a little slippery indignation at the Very Idea that there's something fishy going on with Trump's adamant refusal to release his tax returns. Everyone, even his lawyers, knows by now there is no legal reason for him not to. We can only presume the optics would be a disaster, the equivalent of Toto grabbing that curtain and pulling it open to expose the humbug at the levers.

Kellyanne Conway "bristled" and replied to CNN's Alisyn Camerota by saying "I'm sorry, are you calling him a liar?"

Yes. We're all sorry, are you trying to imply he isn't a liar? Good luck with that.

A brief history of recent times Permalink to this item

xkcd, the "webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language" provides a timeline of Earth's average temperature since the last ice age glaciation. That's a scant 22 millennia, which is about how many page downs it took on a laptop screen to scroll from way back when to the current day.

You kind of know what's coming, but no spoilers here. Check it out. Don't miss the end of Lake Missoula and the channeled scablands halfway through.

2013 photo

13.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Channeling Permalink to this item

There is so much corruption in politics, people. Believe me. It's huge. Huge. I know. Huge corruption. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. Somebody's coming after me, I just grease the wheels. Court case? Ba da bing, court case G'BYE! Take this Pam Bondi, running for Attorney General. In Florida. Can you believe this? They're coming after my "university," it's a joke. Could cost me millions, MILLIONS maybe. I come up with a couple thousand bucks, it's loose change for me, believe me. I lose more than that in my couch cushions. Twenty-five thousand, peanuts, it's a rounding error, but it's the world to her, she can't thank me enough. What do you know—she calls off the investigation! It's a complete surprise, right? It's a JOKE.

That's the way it works, people. I know, I know. You know I know, right? I've been doing it for years. It's unbelievable, unbelieveable. Believe me. So corrupt. Huge corruption. HUUUGE. I know. Believe me.

The reporting for campaign donations? It's a joke! That campaign in Florida, we said we gave it to somebody in Kansas. Why not? The name sounds about the same. Maybe it is the same name, I don't know. Who even looks at all those forms. My taxes, I'm so rich, my tax returns are a thousand pages. Every year. So much money. The IRS can't figure them out. They are so dumb! Every year, they audit me. So what? They can't do anything. I've got people that do all this stuff. The best people. Believe me. I don't know what's going on, I don't have to know! The accounting people take care of it. I hire the best people. And the best lawyers. I'm actually amazed the IRS figured it out. So dumb. But ok, they got lucky this time. Maybe it's some new guy, the guy doesn't know he's supposed to keep quiet, keep his head down. Nobody likes the IRS, am I right? Keep your mouth shut. But they found out this one time. Then what? Can you believe this? They call it a penalty, but it's like two thousand bucks. Are you kidding me? It's a joke. Believe me. My people steal that much out of petty cash on a good night. What do I care about pocket change. It's like lint in my pockets. I have somebody take care of that.

Hell, it's not even my money anymore. I run a charity, good cause, all sorts of beautiful things for needy people. Everybody wants in. People love it, they want to give me money so I can put my name on their donation. My beautiful name. Their money, my name, it's beautiful. I send it wherever I want, just like it's mine. Everybody's happy. And I'm rich. I am SO rich, and smart, and beautiful. Believe me.

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. Well, except Pam Bondi's name. That's real. Some of this is verbatim from you-know-who. Believe me. Can you believe it? It's a JOKE.

Update: In which the New York Times bends over backwards to see if maybe, just maybe, Trump's whopping $25,000 campaign contribution to Pam Bondi wasn't an actual quid pro quo out-and-out bribe for her to back off the gee, it was hardly a real investigation anyway. Not that Donald Trump has ever actually said directly that he buys and pays for politicians as part of his standard operating procedure or anything.

12.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Love and war Permalink to this item

We spent the first half of Sunday in church, up before dawn and rolling not long after sunrise, left well past noon. We were singing in the choir, and celebrating our end-of-summer return ritual, an intergenerational "mingling of waters" from whatever wandering we may have done. (I brought an ounce of the Inter Fork, melted off the Inter Glacier on Mount Rainier, caught on its way to the White River, the Puyallup, the Puget Sound.) Most of the children in the service were born after 2001, and all were too young to have any direct memory of 15 years ago.

August, 2016

What mention there may have been of "9/11" was in passing, and the central theme was out of Proverbs 25:21, toward the possibility of more creative responses to conflict than fighting:

"If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink..."

We did not proceed to the conclusion of that sentence, 25:22, "for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the Lord will reward you." A collection of pithy sayings passed around for three millennia is a mixed bag, to be sure.

In my own notes, distilled to the part I thought I was supposed to remember from earlier times at church, Matthew 5:44, boiled down to a tweet:

Love your enemy. Life's work. #UUHomecoming

— Tom von Alten (@fortboise) September 11, 2016

That is, of course, aspirational.

In this our supposedly Christian nation, the one with the largest and most powerful military the world has ever known, we have not internalized the most difficult component of the Gospels. As Tom Engelhardt examines in a 9/11 Retrospective of our 15-Year Air War in response to the attack in 2001, we hearken more to the Old Testament eye for an eye, and with a blood-thirsty accounting that says #NeverForget our casualties and #NeverMind others'. We have avenged our losses a hundred times over and it is still not enough.

"It’s clear that, while there is no way to adequately count all civilian casualties from America’s twenty-first-century air wars, “towers” of dead noncombatants have been piled atop one another in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. This next-to-eternal version of war, with all its destructiveness and “collateral damage” (which a few organizations have tried their best to document under difficult circumstances), should be the definition of state barbarism and terror in a world without mercy. That none of this has proven effective in the very terms that the bombers themselves set seems to matter little indeed."

We are halfway in to America's Thirty Years' War, it seems.

The man who was mayor of New York City in 2001, and who seemed a giant at the time, Rudy Giuliani, has turned himself into a deplorable (!) caricature of himself, and pathetic sycophant. "Anything is legal" in war, he has declared, waving away all the work the Bush administration's legal apologists did to draw careful lines around a selection of worst practices of the barbaric.

Anything is legal! You may remember that Greatest Hit in its more direct and oh-so Biblical form: Might Makes Right.

Deplorables Permalink to this item

No need to provide the full CHQ link (or take the jump myself), the teaser for George Rasley's piece suffices for review and comment:

"Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark was not merely, as her campaign later tried to explain, a criticism of the #AltRight, it was a dog whistle to the Leftwing elite that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are not admissible to polite society and are to be shunned as holding illegitimate views that are unworthy of discussion."

Yes, well, Richard Viguerie and his crew know a thing or two about dog whistles, and basket cases. And if you want to put it in the worst possible light to belittle the "Leftwing elite," you can imagine Clinton's true expression is to denigrate the whole lot of Trump supporters.

Even though she didn't got that far. And even though some of Trump's supporters—and of course Trump himself—have said and done some truly deplorable things. Do we need to list them all? (You could look it up; I'm too busy to make my own list just this moment.) And juxtapose that list with the things Clinton is supposed to have done, all those "scandals" that CHQ has been dog-whistling for decades?

Scroll past the eulogy for Phyllis Schlafly to the "presidential horse race 2016" item and consider this headline: "Conservatives must rush the cockpit in this Flight 93 Election."

Rush the cockpit and... crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania? That's a surprisingly apt metaphor for the CHQ-style conservative movement that is happy to shut down the government to satisfy its fitful piques, and considers "compromise" a surrender.

As for Clinton's possibly too-candid assessment of the worst of the mob rallying behind the worst candidate for president of my lifetime, survey says a sizeable majority of voters believe that yes, Trump "is biased against women and minorities." And while "half" of Trump's supporters was slathering with a too-broad brush,

"Clinton’s underlying case—that Trump is running a campaign fueled in part by bigoted appeals, and in the process, he is mainstreaming fringe sentiments—is simply inarguable. And forcing a public discussion of that aspect of her argument in particular isn’t necessarily a political loser for her."

Greg Sargent points to his own opinion there, in which he notes that "people have all kinds of reasons for supporting their candidate—party loyalty; reflexive negative partisanship; genuine distaste with the alternatives; meaningful, legitimate support for certain aspects of the candidate’s agenda, and not others; and so forth." For Trump and Pence to reshape Clinton's comment into cause for howling outrage at the insult is to make a rather fabulous refutation of every single complaint that has ever been made about "political correctness."

10.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Hands over hearts Permalink to this item

Boise is a better place since Bryan Fischer packed his bags and moved to Mississippi. The "American Family Association" that he shills for and that hosts his execrable opinions is now a blot on the deep south. They run the gamut from the gobsmacking to eye-rolling. Take your pick which end his response to Colin Kaepernick's protest is on. He wants to insist that There.Is.A.Law saying yes you do have to stand up and put your hand on your heart when the flag goes up and the national anthem is played.

Seriously? Could he possibly be that ignorant of the law, our Constitution, and the version of the English language we've been using over here? Leading off with "according to Wikipedia," moving on to Merriam-Webster, and imagining that "should" means "shall" looks like a civics essay that could flunk a high school sophomore.

Does he really want to live in a country that compels obeisance? Or civility, for that matter? He has fallen so woefully short for so much of his life. Maybe it's an S&M thing.

The comments alternate between bizarre and (rightfully) dismissive, including a verbose rendition of "love it or leave it," in case you miss that golden oldie from the Viet Nam War era.

Artful dealer Permalink to this item

The fabulous Donald J. Trump now has his own series on The New Yorker, Trump and the Truth. ("Versus" would have worked, too.)

"[S]ometimes there really is something new under the political sun. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, does not so much struggle with the truth as strangle it altogether. He lies to avoid. He lies to inflame. He lies to promote and to preen. Sometimes he seems to lie just for the hell of it. He traffics in conspiracy theories that he cannot possibly believe and in grotesque promises that he cannot possibly fulfill. When found out, he changes the subject—or lies larger.

"Trump’s capacity for lying inspires equal parts awe and revulsion."

(I trust the fact that the "series" so far comprises an introduction, and one essay from a week ago, Trump and the Truth: Immigration and Crime from Sept. 2, is not a little oddball New Yorker humor, but a matter of timing?)

H/t to Randy Stapilus' Ridenbaugh Press for the link.

Some protection you didn't know you needed Permalink to this item

Sorry for a triple dose of geek speak, but sheesh, another item out of that Steve Gibson security update, pointing to the Sophos naked security blog, Ransomware that’s 100% pure JavaScript, no download required.

Last year, they write, "most ransomware arrived in Word documents containing what are known as macros: script programs that can be embedded in documents to adapt their content in real time, usually as part of your company’s workflow." Microsoft Word macros, that's old school, and largely defended by having them turned off by default.

This year, the latest thing is javascript attachments disguised as text files. (Disguised by the "convenient" default setting of Windows Explorer and everything that uses it—which is everything on your computer, pretty much—to not show you the whole of file names, because suffixes are boring. What looks like "Invoice.txt" can be Invoice.txt.js. And maybe you didn't know this (I don't think I did):

"On Windows, JavaScript outside your browser runs in the Windows Script Host (WSH). This doesn’t restrict or “sandbox” the script code, so it can do anything a regular application could do."

As if ransomware's not bad enough, the particular item discussed includes a password stealing component left behind after you pay the ransom and get your files back. (Which reminds me: have you backed up your computer lately or do you not care if you lose everything in it?)

Looking at my own system, I see that the "open with" menu for javascript files includes four versions of Visual Studio (that I use for professional work), and the Microsoft ® Windows Based Script Host, with WSH set as the default program. (Which is to say, what the script would run in if I accidentally opened a .js file instead of editing it, which is what I do most of the time.)

Screenshot

THIS IS DEFINITELY WORTH DOING:

1) make a new (empty) file with Windows Explorer, name it test.js

2) right click on it and under "Open with" select "Choose default program..." and then dig around in the file dialog to find Notepad, or the text editor of your choice (mine is vim, the ubiquitous text editor) and make that what you "Always use to open this kind of file" with the checkbox there.

It won't break anything you want to have use javascript, because you have no reason to want to run javascript outside a browser. (Trust me on that.) It would prevent malware that you get tricked into trying to launch from running.

While you're at it, I recommend you do that other thing, and have Explorer SHOW file extensions. They're not boring, they're important information you should recognize and understand, and that understanding could save your bacon and eggs.

Tools / Folder Options / View

and UNcheck the option to "Hide extensions for known file types".

Your reasonable expectations aren't what they used to be Permalink to this item

When I wrote yesterday's little privacy update, and the advertising joke to follow, it turns out I had no idea how close to getting over it we all are. Salted in the techlist emails with the gnarly details of Windows Updates, there was a link to the text (PDF) version of the venerable Steve Gibson's Security Now! #566 from late June with the lead story of one gal who got a Windows 10 upgrade she didn't ask for, and ended up settling with Microsoft for $10,000 for her time and inconvenience. Which is interesting, but not as interesting as Court Rules the FBI Does Not Need a Warrant to Hack a Computer.

It seems almost anything is fair in love and the war on child pornography, including having the FBI taking over and running a site dispensing it, while seeking to hack visiting suspects' computers on the way to indicting them. Senior United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. opined that "generally, one has no reasonable expectation of privacy in an IP address when using the internet."

Which sounds true enough, given that you send it out with pretty much every web request, in order that the server knows where to send the bits you asked for. But wait, there's more.

The FBI used a "network investigative technique" (NIT), as they and the judge deemed it, otherwise known as malware to collect information about and from the computers of visitors to the child pornography site Playpen, which the FBI took over in February 2015. While the judge thought the NIT was a-ok, because "it did not cross the line between collecting addressing information and gathering the contents of any suspect's computer," it's not clear that that's exactly true; it did gather some other information. Just metadata? Where exactly is the line? If this judge is drawing it, maybe inside what you thought was private.

“It seems unreasonable to think that a computer connected to the Web is immune from invasion,” [Judge] Morgan adds. “Indeed, the opposite holds true: in today's digital world, it appears to be a virtual certainty that computers accessing the Internet can—and eventually will—be hacked.”

What? Many (even very many) computers are hacked, so... you have to accept the "virtual certainty" that yours will be (or has been!) so never mind the 4th Amendment?! The response from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes that "the decision underscores a broader trend in these cases: courts across the country, faced with unfamiliar technology and unsympathetic defendants, are issuing decisions that threaten everyone's rights."

"The implications for the decision, if upheld, are staggering: law enforcement would be free to remotely search and seize information from your computer, without a warrant, without probable cause, or without any suspicion at all. To say the least, the decision is bad news for privacy. But it's also incorrect as a matter of law, and we expect there is little chance it would hold up on appeal. (It also was not the central component of the judge's decision, which also diminishes the likelihood that it will become reliable precedent.)"

Update: Speaking of the FBI, criminal investigations, prosecution and what-not, this Oregon standoff trial has produced an interesting related angle on privacy and computers. The government did get a warrant for Facebook account data, but was supposed to somehow separate out all the "irrelevant material" and seal and secure it, and now the defense claims they didn't do that well enough, and so... all that evidence is tainted? (The accused and their pals share enough in PUBLIC, and/or to possible witnesses to make the prosecution's case I would have thought.)

Patchy fog Permalink to this item

In the tech mailbag this morning, related to the subject of recreating a Windows 7 laptop, and interminable Win7 updates (hey, I've got one of those!), I understand that updating Windows Update helps, and KB3172605 has superseded KB3161608, and KB3179573 supersedes both of those, with the inimitable imperative, "Install this update to resolve issues in Windows."

The Knowledge Base is not that forthcoming. This updated "includes some new improvements and fixes for the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 platform." In plainer language, it's a patch on patches. But maybe a good one this time. Who knows? KB3172605 says it's the "July 2016 update rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1" which is a bit more direct. How do I know that KB3179573 supercedes KB3172605? I don't, but a techy friend said he thought it did.

There is one link to more information, and KB2509997, which, judging by the number was a while ago. Its "last review" was June 2015, and that was revision 8.0. After seeing that wow, there's quite a bit of interesting, detailed information in that article, I noticed this up top:

Home users: Please don’t try this at home! This article is intended for use by support agents and IT professionals.

9.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

You are what you shop dept. Permalink to this item

A GM CLIMBING 8mm (5/16") Prusik Loop Pre-Sewn 18 inches is following me around on Facebook today. This is because I shopped for (and found! And purchased! Had shipped! Received! Put into service! It was a great day on the lake!) a new downhaul for my windsurfing gear a couple weeks ago.

I'm sure if you need a Prusik Loop Pre-Sewn 18 inches, it's the very thing, maybe even a life-saver. I'm not sure what it is, but I have an idea (and of course there's a picture of it. What would an ad be without a picture? Boring.

Anyway, they have 'em at Amazon if you want one. And what the hell, since I'm an Amazon Associate (or whatever they call it now), you could follow that link I just wrote and put on that picture and get (me) a special deal. I would note:

"High resistance to moisture, low stretch and high strength! All is due to its all high tenacity polyester material. One more advantage adds to its excellent outdoor environment adaption."

Getting over it Permalink to this item

As regular readers may recall, I've taken to using NoScript with Firefox, which by default disables all javascripting, and breaks most sites, with its default eponymous setting for disabling javascript. It was motivated by script-laden sites crashing my browser (I understand the numbers of my fellow-Firefox users are dwindling), but it's been eye-opening to see how MUCH garbage there is. I typically enable the site's own domain, and beyond that there are 4 to 10 other sites involved.

And I develop web applications that are utterly dependent on javascript (as indeed, most of the web is these days). It used to be "cross-site scripting" was deemed a massive security issue, and now it's how everything works. Content delivery networks (CDNs) host a lot of the content and infrastructure that sites use. And then there is the deeply ubiquitous infrastructure for selling advertising, much of which happens through javascript. (Some sites detect the NoScript countermeasure and keen at me, "it looks like you're blocking ads, but this is how we survive!" and it almost makes me feel sorry for them. Almost.)

HTML in email generally doesn't use scripting, because email clients haven't generally handled (or used) it, but those abilities (and potential exploits) are all over the map. Legit developers don't use it because it's so hard to get consistent behavior across platforms. Miscreants interested in certain behavior on SOME platforms, and happy with a low percentage hit rate are a different story.

Bulk mail programs (such as MailChimp and Constant Contact) are generally benign, but they do track what happens to messages (and links in messages) with coded links, querystrings and source paths to images, so-called "webbugs."

The typical newsletter you subscribe to will send a message with dozens of links and images packed with information about exactly which of the many messages they send is being accessed, including who the recipient was, in coded paths, file names, and query strings. For example, and image path on gallery.mailchimp.com (obfuscated from the original, trust me):

/5ct3ba99e40216602b16602b14e9b3/images/7h6ef21dbe-4e0a8b70-8763-826ca6fe2e61.jpg

Third parties (or at least additional servers/domains) are involved. Here's the (obfuscated) querystring hanging off a link to cpofwa.us2.list-manage.com/track/click

u=7yu3ab9e9406061b4e9bcy4383c&id=8y45e66d23&e=852yux59fee

Even without clicking anything, if you (or someone else who gets the message) load(s) the images in a browser(, phone, etc.) just to look at the whole beautified message, the source path to the images is laden with information that your request transmits back to the server. They get to see whose message was opened, and (by the nature of how the web works) what IP address made the request. You can't quite ID someone by IP address (in most cases) but you can narrow it down to locale.

Normally, I keep display of images in emails turned off, but bulk mail programs seem to be working around that configuration block in one or more platforms. (On your phone, for sure, but I also use gmail and Outlook, which have very different abilities and default settings for blocking stuff.)

From an ad for Lion hair tonic, in a Japanese magazine

It's a dangerous world. I've been following the technical evolution of all this for most of two decades now, and there is a ton of stuff I don't know.

I do know that Scott McNealy was close enough to 100% correct when he said "You have no privacy. Get over it." (2003, was it? Seems like longer ago than that. Lost in the mists of the web.)

It's like back in the day when adults tried to make us believe that God was watching us All. The. Time. (Or like that really-creepy-when-you-think-about-it lyric to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and its whole extortion myth.)

Except that now it's true. It ain't Santa Claus, but the man knows when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. And your own protection.

If you have gotten over it, or need a little help to make you feel good about the ride we're all on, you might enjoy Katherine Mangu-Ward's breezy little 2012 piece for The Atlantic: Take My Privacy, Please! It's in defense of Google's "plan to aggregate (most of) the data they collect from the many, many products they offer," which, isn't that like everything? 2012 sounds like close to the time I switched to using DuckDuckGo for my usual search engine. (Google does some stuff better, but most of the time DDG gets me where I need to go, without the tracking and ad attack.)

But that was before I and the Missus went all "smartphone" this summer. Now we are pretty much assimilated with the rest of you sorry lot, helpless (and enthusiastic!) consumers and targets for any and all of the under-the-hood daemonic possession coming at us.

7.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The corruption problem Permalink to this item

There was some sort of forum, and Matt Lauer hit an absolute brick, with no follow-up to Trump's Big Lie "I was totally against the war."

No, Trump was not. He's a bald-faced liar, and the damn media are not calling him out on it. Well, some of the media. James Fallow called him out on it in February, and here he is 7 months later still lying about it. Huh.

Anybody who calls Trump "brilliant," hey, he'll take the compliment! Vladimir Putin? Love it! Great leader! Unlike that Obama dude.

Shorter Trump on his intelligence briefing: "I didn't learn anything." (But he could tell by the body language that those people don't like Obama.)

Also, he's got a lot of hats, and a business to run.

So that's ancient history. How about the corrupt "charitable foundation" problem. You know, ICYMI, the Trump Foundation making a political contribution of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (illegally), and Florida AG Pam Bondi decided gee, she didn't really want to investigate that whole Trump University cheating students thing after all.

Morning news and opinion roundup Permalink to this item

The idea of Glenn Beck having an op-ed in the NYT titled Empathy for Black Lives Matter seemed like it would have to be replete with #WhiteMansplaining but I found it better than I expected. Empathy. Understanding. Maybe even a little compassion would be good, even if he didn't get all the way to that. A simple prayer:

"I pray, knowing my words will likely fall on many deaf ears as I am a flawed messenger, that cultivating empathy for one another, in our communities and in the news media, from our politicians and in our politics, is the path we must choose as a nation."

I don't think he really needed to add the "or else" afterwards. We have all of human history full of the alternative, and in spite of politicians (and would-be politicians) making an industry out of fearmongering to convince us otherwise, there is some evidence that things are getting better. The news still (and ever) leads with what bleeds, so you have to pay a bit deeper attention to get there.

Which has a bit of whiteMansplaininess about it, doesn't it? Hmm. Not sure which side of the ledger it falls, but I guess it's good news that the North Dakota pipeline protest is starting to make the mainstream news. Company "security guards" and dogs and the natives mixing it up, and the sheriff counts the casualties among the former but not the latter. ("There were no law enforcement personnel at the site when the incident occurred, [Morton County Sheriff's office spokeswoman Donnell] Preskey said. The crowd dispersed when officers arrived and no one was arrested, she said.")

And the federal judge says... construction on sacred tribal burial sites in the path of the pipeline can proceed.

In other federal court news, the trial of the Bundy brothers and five of their fellow travelers is about to begin, and wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall for this voir dire? Maybe 150 prospective jurors and only three dozen peremptory challenges between the two sides.

"Both sides probably have done background research on the prospective jurors, examined their online posts and likes on Facebook, for example. In court, lawyers will be taking notes on their answers to the judge's questions."

In order to give them the right impression, says there that Ammon Bundy's lawyer made a motion to allow his client to go to trial with his boots on.

"These men are cowboys, and given that the jury will be assessing their authenticity and credibility, they should be able to present themselves to the jury in that manner," attorney J. Morgan Philpot wrote in a motion to the court.

But for sure, no steel toed boots, and no spurs and such. I confess, there is an argument to be made, that "no insinuations, indications or implications suggesting guilt should be displayed before the jury, other than admissible evidence and permissible argument." But the SCOTUS has not extended the allowance to full-on costuming yet. Given the considerable deference the Court has been offering, including to Ryan Bundy's idiotic (his word) self-representation, Ammon may get some leeway.

4.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Worse than you imagined Permalink to this item

From the Washington Post analysis of North Carolina Republicans' "monster" voting bill, thanks to "several thousand pages of documents produced under court order," with my emphasis:

"North Carolina GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African Americans from voting — practices that had taken a civil rights movement and extensive federal intervention to stop.

"Last month, a three-judge federal appeals panel struck down the North Carolina law, calling it “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” Drawing from the emails and other evidence, the 83-page ruling charged that Republican lawmakers had targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The same "longtime Republican consultant" who noted the whole voter fraud b.s. was just an excuse also insisted it wasn't racist, they were just targeting the Democratic voters. Duh.

But it was the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder that gave the NC GOP the green light; when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. declared that voting rights problems were old news, they were ready to act. They cooked up the “omnibus” version that was more than three times the size, and rammed it through. Even with the law struck down, there may be enough "confusion" to keep county-level changes from being rolled back.

Speaking of rigged elections.

The little orange man behind the curtain Permalink to this item

The Trump campaign (never mind the TrumPence logo up top, it's on donaldjtrump.com and Mike Pence is not mentioned) has an AGREEMENT that you're going to have to sign if you want to work for them, whether as an employee, independent contractor, volunteer, or otherwise, that you will not disclose confidential information, and you will not—ever—demean or disparage publicly the Company, the Great and Powerful OzMr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer.

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men." – Edward R. Murrow

By "Family Member" they mean, and spell out "any member of Mr. Trump’s family, including, but not limited to, Mr. Trump’s spouse, each of Mr. Trump’s children and grandchildren and their respective spouses, including but not limited to Donald J. Trump Jr., Eric F. Trump and Ivanka M. Trump, Tiffany Trump, and Barron Trump, and their respective spouses, children and grandchildren, if any, and Mr. Trump’s siblings and their respective spouses and children, if any."

"Not limited to" means this will also cover any bastard stepchildren who may turn up. (I'm not saying there are any, but if any.)

The Cincinnati Enquirer asked Trump's Ohio campaign spokesman Seth Unger about the necessity of the agreement for online volunteers, and he said:

"We are running a state-of-the-art campaign for Mr. Trump that involves best-in-market volunteer platforms, and it is attracting thousands of volunteers who are tired of the same old Washington corruption and back room deals and are securing votes for a change in November."

These are people who want some fresh new sort of corruption and back room deals and are willing to contract their rights away for a personal sniff of the big man. Sort of like Trump University, without the upside.

Former Trump campaign manager and now, somewhat incredibly, "political commentator" for CNN, Corey Lewandowski, almost certainly signed such an agreement, even though when asked if he had directly, he slithered about like a tomato seed under your thumb and did not answer the question. That would be a "yes." (Has he said anything the least bit disparaging about the Company and the Man and all the Man's family in the enusing months? I'm not following CNN, you tell me.)

It is all about Trump, the man with the flaming orange hubris who won the nomination and declared, about everything that ails us, "I along can fix it." This is a man so lacking in what it takes to earn respect that he's had his lawyers box in everyone close to him to make sure that never is heard a disparaging word.

Everything is connected Permalink to this item

One anecdote that didn't make it into my bike journal in 1976, and also slipped notice in the marginalia added in the anniversary recapitulation (so far, just in the run of the blog this summer) was waking up in the middle of the night in upstate New York to the sound of a chorus of howls. It was a sound I'd never heard before, and raised the hair on the back of my neck. As I had done on the first night when a drunken reveler had spilled into the woods where my tent was secreted, I searched my compact memory palace for the current location of my Swiss Army pocket knife, the one thing in my kit that seemed a possible defensive weapon.

The howling did not come closer to me, and did not persist all that long, but the thrill stayed with me a while, and left me to imagine what it was I heard. At the time, I thought maybe wolves, but I had no idea if there were really wolves in that forest back then. Coyotes, or a pack of wild dogs? A two-weeks ago item in the NYT Sunday Review offers another possibility:

"The coywolf, as it’s sometimes called, is a hybrid coyote that’s one-quarter wolf, two-thirds Western coyote and also part dog."

Wikipedia cheerfully notes it's sometimes called a "woyote," which could take the alternate pronounciations of its forbears and be either WHY-oat or WOY-oh-tee. It also says "the main nucleus of pure eastern wolves is currently concentrated within Algonquin Provincial Park," just up the other side of the Seaway, so maybe wolves howling in the night of the NY woods was not so far-fetched. At any rate, Eastern coyotes are spread over that north country, and coyote, wolf, dog, or a wild mixture thereof, they woke me up that one night.

And they're not quite the focus of the August 21 op-ed from Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the author of a book about allergies and autoimmune disease. That is instead A Natural Cure for Lyme Disease, a short but fascinating excursion in ecological theory, disease vectors and predators. The coywolf figures in as not big and bad enough, and perhaps "exacerbated the Lyme problem by killing or scaring off another rodent predator—the fox—without reducing the deer population." The deer "don’t carry the Lyme-causing bacterium [but] probably encourage its transmission," he says. The primary vector for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burdorferi, is "deer ticks," although it's their being people ticks that matters to us, when they escape their "normal reservoir" of "a variety of small mammals."

In case you didn't already have it on your mind, the estimate is that 30,000 people to "possibly 10 times that" get infected with Lyme disease every year, "most in the Northeast and upper Midwest." It’s now the “single greatest vector-borne disease in the United States,” and it’s “expanding on a really epic scale,” according to an epidemiologist with the National Park Service.

2006 photo

The eastern forests are doing well, with "more trees than at any time since the Colonial period" in New England, but the understory has suffered from too many deer, and that has hurt the weasel family predators that hunt rodents, on top of the coywolf problem for foxes.

We could use more... big cats, actually. Keep an eye on your small children, but they don't eat that many people, really. "Fewer than 30 people have lost their lives to cougar attacks in the past 125 years." More cats and fewer deer would mean fewer cars running into deer, and fewer people dying in car crashes.

"If cougars recolonized the East over 30 years, the scientists calculated, collisions with deer might decline by nearly one-quarter, preventing 21,000 injuries and 155 deaths, and saving $2.13 billion."

3.Sept.2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

South of the border, down Mexico way Permalink to this item

All I can say is, if you bought stock in Trump piñatas, you made a brilliant move. This week's events seem to have pegged all meters, north and south of the border. It's nice to see everyone practicing their diacriticals and getting that compound surname right, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, who knew? Some of the people who did know before yesterday (you know, the Mexicans), are livid about what's being compared to that meeting between Neville Chamberlain and you-know-who back in 1938. Not to Godwin this right out of the chute or anything.

“It’s a historic error,” said Enrique Krauze, a well-known historian. “You confront tyrants. You don’t appease them.”

...Newspapers, television stations, social media and all manner of national communications were awash in vitriol at the idea of a meeting between the two men, while political analysts on both sides of the border said they were mystified about why Mr. Peña Nieto invited Mr. Trump.

“It is Peña Nieto’s worst mistake so far and one we still don’t understand,” said Vidal Romero, the head of the political science department at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, a university in Mexico City. “This would only hurt him.”

Notwithstanding that el Presidente says he insisted they were not going to pay for that stinking wall, a point easily lost in the negotiated translation. We do have one point of agreement:

Still, there is “unanimity that this is a giant farce,” said Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez, a professor at the Tecnólogico de Monterrey in Mexico City and columnist for Reforma, a Mexico City newspaper.

For his part, Trump behaved himself pretty well down there, so well that the New York Times portrayed him as softer, gentler and as "display[ing] an almost unrecognizable demeanor" before he'd popped back to the USA and Phoenix and resumed his usual trash-talking, decorating the "detailed policy address" someone wrote for him, promising that really, really big wall and and a really, really massive deportation program. And of course Mexico is going to pay for it, even if "they don't know it yet" and even if they said no they are not going to directly enough. (Trump, who might have been saying LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU at the time, said afterwards "we didn’t discuss it," which ok, that could be literally true, even though it looks like a bald-faced lie. Trump tells everyone "they're going to pay for it," the Mexicans say "the hell we are," that's not a discussion, is it?)

It will be "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful," just like Donald Trump imagines himself to be. (Somebody else has always paid for that, truly enough.) If you love Trump and his xenophobic trash talk it was a speech for the ages, not just against the Democrats and Hillary Clinton (who "must be positively terrified now"... in their dreams?), but also "the folly and conceit of Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, John McCain, the Gang of Eight, Facebook Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, the US Chamber of Commerce and the rest of the open borders econometric school of immigration policy."

If you're a member of the reality-based community, you might be aware that we already have a rather impressive wall and supporting technology, that Donald Trump only seemed to make disappear in the summer of June 2015 when he declared his anti-Mexican candidacy. With my emphasis:

"Suddenly, there hadn’t been a bipartisan government effort over the last quarter-century to put in place an unprecedented array of walls, detection systems, and guards for that southern border. In those years, the number of Border Patrol agents had, in fact, quintupled from 4,000 to more than 21,000, while Customs and Border Protection became the largest federal law enforcement agency in the country with more than 60,000 agents. The annual budget for border and immigration enforcement went from $1.5 to $19.5 billion, a more than 12-fold increase. By 2016, federal government funding of border and immigration enforcement added up to $5 billion more than that for all other federal law enforcement agencies combined."

But never mind all that. The idea that Donald Trump and his family are going to be the arbiters of "extreme vetting" and that only those potential immigrants who can pass their qualification test is utterly repugnant.

U.t.t.e.r.l.y r.e.p.u.g.n.a.n.t.

Timothy Egan considers the immigrants that would be—would have been—turned away under the reign of Trump.

"Give me your extreme-vetted, your ideologically certified, your elite. Send only the smartest, the best-connected, the richest to our shores. No losers, no freethinkers, and no ugly people, please."

Maybe they forget where they put the red carpet Permalink to this item

And the stairway. Air Force One landed in Hangzhou and... no stairway? No photo op? In a pinch the plane does have its own exit facility, "a rarely used door in the belly of the plane," so that's good.

"The surprises continued at the West Lake State House, where Mr. Obama met President Xi Jinping. White House aides, protocol officers and Secret Service agents were stopped at a security checkpoint, according to a pool report. A shouting match, in Chinese, broke out over how many Americans should be allowed into the building before Mr. Obama’s arrival, and whether their names were on the proper lists."

"As the words escalated, there were fears that a fight might erupt...."

Now THIS is insulting Permalink to this item

Seems like everyone has an opinion about the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick by now, not for his scrambling, passing, or play-calling, but for his refusal to stand for the playing of the national anthem at (so far) preseason football games.

Are you ready for some political football?!

I haven't been following the call and response all that much, other than noting who's bent out of shape, and who is correctly pointing out that (a) as protests go, this is pretty mild, (b) you know, we do all have the right do this sort of thing, and especially the #VeteransForKaepernick saying that yes, this is what we fought for: the right to stand up and speak our minds. (Jim Wright, for example: Respect: Colin Kaepernick – The Extended Cut)

The Niners are not actually in San Francisco these days, in case you didn't know; they've moved to Santa Clara, and the police in Santa Clara have taken offense at this football players statements. Somewhat incredibly, they are threatening to "boycott" the home games, as in refuse to do their jobs unless the team... what? Makes Kaepernick shut up? Stand up? Put his hand over his heart? Say nice things about them?

What Jim Wright said: "If you try to force a man to respect you, you'll only make him respect you less."

[I]f you don't like what Kaepernick has to say, then prove him wrong.

Be the nation he can respect.

It's really just that simple.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007