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18.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A profile in courage: Olivia Troye Permalink to this item

Thanks to Susan B. Glasser for her profile of Olivia Troye, going public on +rump's narcissistic mishandling of Covid-19: “It Was All About the Election.” You can watch Troye's scorching video at the beginning, or after reading Glasser's piece, powerful either way.

There aren't any big surprises for anyone who's paid even modest attention to what's going on, but the clarity and directness of the inside view put a long list of less forthcoming witnesses to shame. John Bolton concerned about his book deal, for example. A couple of generals who came and went, and let misplaced loyalty for the office keep them quiet about the man in it who gives none, and deserves none. And the former Director of National Intelligence, former Ambassador, former US Senator Dan Coats, who went as far as a New York Times op-ed, but not as far as naming the elephant in the room.

And the still-insiders working the "she's just disgruntled" rope line. It's worse than that, Mike, and Keith. She's seen you. She knows who you are, and what you're capable of. To be “no longer capable of keeping up with her day-to-day duties” is a badge of honor in this admnistration. Day-to-day duties that include putting a re-election campaign ahead of preserving, protecting, and defending our Constitution, and the well-being of the American people.

17.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Let's not go down the same rathole again Permalink to this item

James Fallows, for The Atlantic: The Media Learned Nothing from 2016. The headline is a bit overstated, but the subhead seems on the mark: "The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump." Old habits die hard. Journalism is a profession, ideally, and standards of professionalism are built on a foundation of time, and corrected errors. And the press isn't the only organization that has been snookered. It happened to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, too.

"In his book about the Mueller investigation, True Crimes and Misdemeanors (and in a New Yorker article, Jeffrey Toobin argues that Mueller’s tragic flaw was a kind of anachronistic idealism—which had the same effect as naivete. Mueller knew the ethical standards he would maintain for himself and insist on from his team. He didn’t understand that the people he was dealing with thought standards were for chumps. Mueller didn’t imagine that a sitting attorney general would intentionally misrepresent his report, which is of course what Bill Barr did. Mueller wanted to avoid an unseemly showdown, or the appearance of a “fishing expedition” inquiry, that would come from seeking a grand-jury subpoena for Donald Trump’s testimony, so he never spoke with Trump under oath, or at all. Trump, Barr, and their team viewed this decorousness as a sign of weakness, which they could exploit."

For the press, the peanut butter in the mousetrap is ratings! when they broadcast the reality TV conman's barking madness, and the you-won't-believe-what-he-said-today, day after day. How to filter out the noise and cut to what really matters?

+rump is on record (we don't use tapes anymore, but shades of Tricky Dick, they are audio recordings) admitting that he knew how dangerous, and deadly the pandemic was, but "I wanted always to play it down," and you know, stop testing to speed the miracle just around the corner. Vaccine for everybody in October, step right up! The DHS—being run by illegals, no less—has been falsifying evidence. The Attorney General of the United States sees himself and is acting as the President's fixer.

Fallows identifies the Big Three problems as both-sides-ism, tracking the horse race (Fatuous Fascist vs. Regular Joe), and going after ratings. I'll let you take the jump and see his expansion of all that, but highlighting his list of people to pay attention to in the meta-media realm (all his links, minus the data-omni-click foo) seems eminently blog-worthy. This is a Very High Quality List:

"Over the past few years, [the most destructive habits of the medai in dealing with +rump have] been the object of careful, continued analyses by the likes of Margaret Sullivan, now of The Washington Post and the last really effective public editor of The New York Times (before the paper mistakenly abolished that position); Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Post and now of Press Watch; Jay Rosen, of New York University and PressThink; Eric Boehlert, of Press Run Media; Greg Sargent of “The Plum Line” at The Washington Post; Brian Beutler of Crooked Media; Eric Alterman of CUNY Brooklyn College, author of the new book Lying in State; the linguist George Lakoff, who has promoted the concept of countering lies with a “truth sandwich”; and many others. For my own part, I wrote a book called Breaking the News nearly 25 years ago, excerpted as an Atlantic cover story, about trends like these that were evident then and have metastasized through the years since."

Metastacized is of course the exact word for the moment. There is a cancer on the presidency. The House made the diagnosis, and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to operate. 47 years on, John Dean is still around to remind us of what was true then, and is more true now.

(Dean has a new book fresh out last month: Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers. I'd be tempted, but I need to finish Hiding In Plain Sight first.)

15.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Subject: Business Proposal Permalink to this item

One phishing lure and one regular-old scam stood out in today's mailbag. The former inspired me to forward it to the impersonee with a pithy preamble that I hope will make her laugh, and the latter was trimmed by the mail filter that only tentatively marked it as spam. It's nice that the filter values my opinion and gives me the right of refusal.

How are you doing today? [Fake name redacted]. I am sorry for contacting you directly to your email.I have a very genuine and Lucrative opportunity that won't distract you from your daily schedule. I would like to talk to you about something very

Bombus in Helianthus

It made me think about lucre (and Lucre!). How often does "lucre" get used without "filthy" right before it? If you can believe Google's search results, more than you'd expect. 8 million hits for the plain word, and only 596,000 for "filthy lucre". (Also, searching for "lucre -filthy" without the quotes gives 7.3M, so rough, and surprising confirmation.)

Along the way, I noted "lucre" is Biblical, or at least King James-Biblical. Paul's first greeting to Titus, who he left behind in Crete to put things in order. In the part about Correcting False Teachers, there it is filthy in 1:11:

"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."

The New Revised Standard Version is my more usual preference, and in that, it comes out "sordid gain," not so punchy. NRSV retains the casual libel toward "those of the circumcision," which would have of course included Jesus himself, go figure.

14.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Oh, and that other fascist thing he did Permalink to this item

I'd almost forgotten. God damn. In an interview with "Judge" Jeanine Pirro, our proto-fascist dictator endorsed the execution of Michael Reinoehl by a Washington law enforcement potpourri. Never mind innocent until proven guilty, we've gone fast forward to dead men tell no tales.

Most of the facts of the encounter that ended Reinoehl's life are yet to be made public, but that's no reason for +rump to hold his tongue.

"I will tell you something. That’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this."

Walter Einenkel's post on Daily Kos has the story outline, and the Fox News video, 15½ minutes of the president with one of his favorite fluffers. I couldn't get through a minute and half; either one of these miscreants makes my skin crawl, together they're more than I can stand.

Last week, the Oregonian reported that a witness who lived in the apartment complex near the shooting said Reinoehl wasn't obviously armed, and that there were no warnings or commands given, before police opened fire.

Reinoehl ducked for cover near his car, but it was blocked by police cars and he never got into it, according to [39 year old Nathaniel] Dingess.

“Officers shot multiple rapid-fire rounds at Reinoehl before issuing a brief ‘stop’ command, quickly followed by more rapid-fire shooting by additional officers,” according to the statement.

Do we have any conscience left to shock? My god.

There is no bottom Permalink to this item

The depth and detail of the corruption of the +rumpence administration has beggared our imaginations. There are the weekly and daily compilations, and it seems impossible to keep up. I mentioned some of what was in Heather Cox Richardson's Sept. 12 Letter yesterday, slipping a malleable factotum into one of our greatest government agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but there was more than just that.

There is always more.

Her lede was Dan Diamond's bombshell report in Politico that +rump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19, demanding the right to review scientific reports, and realign them to the effectively murderous talking points of the day.

We're talking about the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, "authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk."

The death toll being edited—by a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background—to suit political ends. There is no bottom to the corruption.

But there is more.

The Department of Homeland Security has political appointees gaslighting us about threats of domestic terrorism, downplaying the top findings of intelligence experts that our biggest issues come from white supremacists and Russian attacks on another election, in favor of the preferred narratives of you-know-who, antifa coming after your suburbs, and Iran and China/don't look at Russia.

Said appointees are the illegally Acting Director Chad Wolf, and the his illegally acting Deputy, Ken Cuccinelli. Last week a whistleblower filed a complaint with particulars about these two, and the administration's response was to nominate Wolf for the actual job he has held illegally for more than ten months. And then cite "standard practice" as precluding Wolf's long-overdue testimony.

Immediately, DHS told the House that Wolf could not testify in front of the committee, because “it is standard practice for nominated officials not to testify in their acting roles in front of a congressional committee before they have been confirmed.”

But there will be more.

We await with bated breath the October surprise that Attorney General and +rump's Roy Cohen, Bill Barr is cooking up with U.S. Attorney John Durham. The stew is fetid enough that a long-time aide to Durham, federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy pulled the ripcord, as the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant reported last week.

"As an assistant U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, Dannehy was known for building complex corruption cases against high-profile politicians."

What's been hinted about Durham's work so far is inconsequential, but for a team willing and able to fabricate "massive fraud" out of tweets and rumors, one altered memo is being raised up as the Holy Grail. This while the complex corruption case of the +rump crime family financial dealings cries out for someone with Dannehy's skill. Instead, the platoon of +rump lawyers inside and outside the DOJ has successfully obstructed release of financial records (+rump's tax returns, et cetera) for four full years, the pettifogging set to run out the clock past November 3.

That will all be a sideshow compared to the plan to declare victory before key battleground states' results are fully counted, and then the gaslight de résistance of declaring "massive voter fraud" for absentee/mail-in voting, and negate the will of the nation's voters to finally drain this noisome swamp.

13.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fire season Permalink to this item

AirNow map snapshot, 1:40pm MDT today

We have a dose of Air Quality index at the verge of "Very unhealthy" today. We were just under 200 this morning, and north of 300 is where "Hazardous" (maroon) starts. The wind was up at Lucky Peak, and the air didn't seem too horrible at the house, I could see the moon high in the sky (a bit orange tinted), so I headed up to the lake before sunrise, anticipating the pleasure of starting my day windsurfing.

Headed south to get to the freeway, up the second bench, and the smell of smoke was getting into the car in spite of all the windows being closed. The scene was much denser gray. I hoped that maybe the katabatic flow would be carrying cleaner mountain air to the Boise River canyon, but nope. I see on the AirNow map there's a worse blob in the Boise Mountains, so that was feeding down the canyon. At (the time of) sunrise, some of my buddies were rigging up; I took a picture and wished them well, not wanting to be breathing that stuff for a couple of hours. I was disappointed, but it wasn't that far up the scale of life's disappointments.

Friends and family have checked in from up north, Moscow, and Colfax, and from Portland, where the AQI is off the scale Hazardous. Boise isn't actually in the thick of it, so far. Yreka to Portland is. The Columbia River basin. The Palouse, Spokane, north Idaho, SE British Columbia.

This was the scene at the lake, overlooking the Barclay Bay beach (now 60 ft. above the lake as it's drawn down for fall and winter), at the time of sunrise (which is a while before the sun gets over the hills down to the water):

This morning, 7:21 am MDT

As opposed to what it looked like three days and ten minutes earlier (left of the boat ramp, where you can see the waterline at a lower beach):

Thursday, 7:12 am MDT

In the Los Angeles Times today: How climate change is fueling record-breaking California wildfires, heat and smog.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “Maybe we underestimated the magnitude and speed” at which these events would occur, he said, but “we’ve seen this long freight train barreling down on us for decades, and now the locomotive is on top of us, with no caboose in sight.”

In a matter of weeks, California has experienced six of the 20 largest wildfires in modern history and toppled all-time temperature records from the desert to the coast. Millions are suffering from some of the worst air quality in years due to heat-triggered smog and fire smoke. A sooty plume has blanketed most of the West Coast, blotting out the sun and threatening people’s lungs during a deadly pandemic. ...

As one 1988 internal Shell Oil Co. document noted, “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation.”

Down the story, along with the 130°F in Death Valley you might have heard about last month, there are the record temperatures in L.A. County (121°F in Woodland Hills) and at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the highest temperature recorded in a century and a half since recordkeeping began. 120°F. Wildfires triggering firestorms "unprecedented in our historical experience."

What this year’s extreme heat, fire and air quality degradation is showing, said Columbia’s Williams, is that we are, in a sense, blindly stepping off a cliff from a world in which we could somewhat predict what was going to happen, based on decades and centuries of data.

“We’re finding that we’ve lost complete control,” he said. “The baselines we’ve used for decades no longer apply. There really isn’t a normal anymore.”

Maybe the federal government should do something? Ah, but California supported Hillary Clinton over +rump by more than 30 points in 2016, they're dead to our mob boss. In Heather Cox Richardson's Sept. 12 Letter from an American, there's this latest nugget:

"[W]e learned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has hired a climate-change denier. David Legates has spent his career casting doubt on climate science: in 2014, he told the Senate that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which identifies international consensus within the scientific community of 195 countries (no mean feat) is wrong. His work has been funded in part by grants from Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and the American Petroleum Institute. Neither he nor NOAA would tell NPR why he was hired."

NPR's story says Legates is to be NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction, where he will report to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency. Of course there's an acting head, serving without Senate confirmation, at the whim of +rump. And of course Jacobs was the guy sitting there in the Oval Office lending "expertise" to Don the Con after he'd rerouted a hurricane forecast with a Sharpie a year ago. It was like a miracle.

CNN image, via WLOX story, linked

Legates, affiliated with the think tank specializing in climate change-denial, the Heartland Institute, got an attaboy from one of its board members. He'll "a great deal of much-needed science to NOAA," as if they were short on the subject. You might remember the "conservative and libertian" Heartland Institute from its past campaigns, against tobacco regulation, for privatizing federal services, tax credits for private schools, and "free-market reforms" in healthcare.

11.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This exemplar of the Senate GOP Permalink to this item

"You're talking about the Woodward book?" Sen. John Kennedy asked, and you can see the wheels spinning in his head as he flips to the right talking point with a slow "UM."

From CNN

"All I can do is share with you mah point of view... These 'gotcha books' don't really interest me that much..."

He's rehearsed this line in preparation. He repeats it three times, drawled word for word, before later saying he doesn't want to repeat himself. Any more.

She calls him out "as a human being" and... he fails the test. Astoundingly, the Senator from Louisiana—where 5,000 of his constituents have died from Covid-19—pulls up his college philosophy bona fides. He's an existentialist about this.

"I have learned in Washington D.C., I'm I'm I'm sort of... existential, or Sartrean about Washington D.C., ah, to be is to act.

Unless you die, in which case, you are unable to act.

"Ah, you larn pretty quickly not to judge people up here by what they say, you have to judge them by what they do."

The Senator is doing a good job of not panicking. And not paying too close attention to the murderous psychopathy that he's supporting with his complicity. It doesn't really interest him that much.

"The president, by his deeds, and he's never done it by his words with me either, has ever downplayed the coronavirus, quite the contrary."

Then this master of jaw-flapping spluttering suck-up derides expertise in its entirety. He spits out "expert" like a cuss word. You could find an expert to say anything you want. You might as well call the Psychic Hotline. So why not have a psychopath who knows we're on the verge of a deadly pandemic tell people "it'll be like a miracle, it'll just go away in April"?

I mean golleee, whar's the harm in that, Pam?

2020.09.09 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Through the looking glass Permalink to this item

Lots of hot takes on Bob Woodward's latest book, here in September, because he talks about how the president of the United States admitted that he knew how serious Covid-19 could be, but wanted to keep it mum. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said on March 19. In the midst of publicly downplaying the threat dozens of times, fueling conspiracy theories and effectively torpedoing one public health initiative after another.

He's now saying he did it to quell panic.

A guy whose entire re-election campaign is based on engendering fear and panic is saying that he lied to prevent panic is an interesting plot twist.

— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) September 9, 2020

Panic was also theme of his election campaign in 2016. Just check that RNC platform they're re-using this year.

There's a lot more to "explore" than just the murderous mishandling of the pandemic. The racism, the "diplomacy" with North Korea and of course some "brutal assessments" from the people who worked for him and then got the hell out. It's based on "18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with the president between December and July," and more.

In a ... conversation recounted by Woodward, [former defense secretary and retired Marine General Jim] Mattis told [former director of national intelligence Daniel] Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which the director of national intelligence replied: “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Mattis also is said to have told Coats "There may come a time when we have to take collective action" since Trump is "dangerous. He’s unfit." And he's still in office, unlike Mattis and Coats.

The +rumpian projection is as pitch-perfect as ever. Seeing images of women of color "calmly and silently watching him deliver his State of the Union address, he said “Hate! See the hate! See the hate!”

Yes sir, we see it.

2013 photo from the north Cascades

The guy who's not really qualified for a security clearance, let alone being a "senior advisor," but married cleverly, gives the plot away:

"The most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots....

"Kushner is quoted extensively in the book ruminating about his father-in-law and presidential power. Woodward writes that Kushner advised people that one of the most important guiding texts to understand the Trump presidency was “Alice in Wonderland,” a novel about a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole. He singled out the Cheshire cat, whose strategy was endurance and persistence, not direction."

Can someone please find the one pill to make it go away? Woodward's fly-on-the-wall reporting seems simultaneously half a year late (yeah, but "if Woodward HAD gone public then with this info, would it have changed a damn thing?" a friend asks, rhetorically), and soon enough to multiply the damage.

[Infectious-disease expert Anthony] Fauci at one point tells others that the president “is on a separate channel” and unfocused in meetings, with “rudderless” leadership, according to Woodward. “His attention span is like a minus number,” Fauci said, according to Woodward. “His sole purpose is to get reelected.”

Obviously. But further diminishing Fauci's potential effectiveness will only make the pandemic death toll worse. As foretold by the last word:

In their final interview, on July 21, Trump vented to Woodward, “The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault.”

Labor Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Common sense can kill you Permalink to this item

Andy Slavitt, podcast host of In the Bubble, "health care leader, turnaround expert and #stayhome architect Andy Slavitt is making it his mission to give Americans critical information in real-time [and] also hope for a path forward." I've been following him on Twitter (@ASlavitt), and just noticed this thread, from three days ago:

Occasionally I see something which makes me realize COVID isn’t our toughest enemy any more.

There is a growing refusal to participate in any public health activities— not just social distancing:masks—but testing & contact tracing. And it definitely means no quarantining. 2/

— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) September 4, 2020

It's all-too-familiar in our neck of the woods. It's the Wild West party of Ammon Bundy, Heather Scott and the other no-nothings on the right wing fringe of Idaho's right wing fringe. (Just two days ago, etc.)

A couple years at Iowa State University and your 21st birthday could qualify you to be a spokesperson for covidiocy. Take it from Mady, quoted in the NYT piece on the New Front in America’s Pandemic, College Towns:

“If people get sick, they get sick — it happens,” Mady Hanson, a 21-year-old exercise science major, said last week on campus. She added that she and her family had survived Covid-19 and that she resented the city’s “ridiculous” restrictions.

“We’re all farmers and don’t really care about germs, so if we get it, we get it and we have the immunity to it.”

It's coming to a college or university near you, you can be certain.

Signs of a safe group/leader Permalink to this item

A retweet from 2017 brought this concept to the top of my stack, and the top search result for "signs of a cult leader" was from the Cult Education Institute. Rick Ross, "Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist" provides two lists about cults, and one converse list.

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader; ten regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader; and ten signs of a safe group/leader. The first two will seem all-too familiar, starting with "Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability" and "No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry." But let's think positive today. Give us that last list.

A safe group/leader...:

The mysteriously all-knowing internet also offered up this 2016 chestnut from Jordan Klepper and the Daily Show, from back when we had in-person national political conventions and before we learned that the joke of +rump running for president would be on us. All praise to our Godly Leader.

5.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Monopolizing violence Permalink to this item

Yesterday's AP headline was "Portland killing suspect and victim had guns, documents say," a rather anodyne title for someone dispatched in what today's headline announces was a "hail of gunfire," delivered by "four agents serving on a U.S. Marshals Service task force," not to be confused with U.S. Marshals. (Searches for the "hail of gunfire" headline return stories with the "documents say" one, huh. Here, somebody's News Tribune: Suspect in Portland protest killing dies in hail of gunfire.)

The story talks about "federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service" and informs us that such task forces include "deputy marshals, other federal agents and local law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies" who "are responsible for apprehending violent felons and other wanted suspects."

A U.S. Marshals Service statement issued later said the fugitive task force had "attempted to peacefully arrest him," so that was a failure, huh? The four "task force members" who took out Michael Forest Reinoehl were "were two Pierce County [Washington] Sheriff's deputies, a police officer from the Washington city of Lakewood and Washington State Department of Corrections officer," which sounds pretty damn deputy rag-tag, doesn't it?

Documents say Reinoehl had a "semi-automatic handgun," which we don't know if he fired. But we are told there were "dozens of gunshots" and "bystanders ducking for cover" and they had a warrant and whoops, no body- or dashcam footage? Some "senior Justice Department official in Washington," "[not] authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity," that's nice, said Reinoehl "pulled a gun." Is that Washington D.C. or Washington state, because it kind of matters, eh? The "hail" of gunfire, variously "dozens" of shots, "40-50." They haven't reported whether or not Reinoehl did any of the shooting. It sounds like maybe not. After the "task force members" "confronted" him, "they fired into the vehicle, Reinoehl got out and ran and was shot" according to a spokesman in another County Sheriff's department.

Dead men tell no tales. Reinoehl won't be making a "stand your ground" (or any other) defense for the crime he was accused of, with the presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He should have followed instructions? Or just walked on by, with a long gun slung over his shoulder and his hands up, like Kyle Rittenhouse.

One of Idaho's least distinguished lawmakers, Heather Scott of way up yonder, was also in today's paper, Zooming in to Ammon Bundy's Emmett warehouse to say "I should be clapping for you guys" who swarmed the Idaho Capitol just last week to turn the legislature's special session into a rodeo clown show, ensuring that none of our citizens in their right minds could participate in person (and without any "virtual" means to participate).

With a classic "screenshot via Peoples Rights [sic] on Facebook," Bundy in his ubiquitous hat, arms crossed, Scott looking like an apparition from the Addam's Family, the warehouse interior looking like it's been used for target practice by the gang that couldn't shoot straight, and, naturally, the image through the looking glass.

FB screenshot via Idaho Press

"Scott went on to praise the group for its showing at the Idaho Legislature’s special session last month, which turned unruly and led to arrests; she encouraged members to elect officials, from mayors to county sheriffs, who won’t enforce coronavirus restrictions."

That's right, FREEDOM for the coronavirus to continue its deadly run through the world. Scott says "we need to secure our communities," against the United Nations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "a tyrannical governor," and health districts. She thought it was "really sad" "to see so many people in Ada County with masks on," which is to say following the health district's order to provide for public health.

The State of Idaho did not see fit to applaud Bundy's rabble rousing, but they have not yet brought out a hail of gunfire against him. The Idaho State Police did amass a fairly overwhelming show of force to round 'im up and head 'im out ziptied to an office chair, then carrying him out of the gallery the next day, after he'd been banned from the statehouse and its grounds for a year. Something tells me that won't shut him up.

4.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mailbag Permalink to this item

In the good old days, our southwestern Idaho cities were enclaves onto themselves, and folks could make their urban, suburban or nonurban choice largely free of outside disturbance. Boise could do its own things, while inheld Garden City and the un- and less-incorporated parts of the county could do their own things. Canyon County and beyond marched to its own drums. Things have grown up, grown out, run together now. There is unwanted mixing. Every workday, a torrent of commuters flow from Red districts to Blue for work, return home, complain about rampant Liberality and Worse. You can imagine the Blues' attitude, too.

Photo from yesterday

Our current daily paper is the Idaho Press, well on its way to superseding the long time dean of state dailies, the Idaho Statesman. I've been a fan of the Letters to the Editor section in whatever paper was in my neighborhood almost all my life, making my own contributions from time to time (but less so in the years since the web provided my own publishing outlet). The Statesman's section as I remember it was pretty tightly controlled. 200 words, and I could've sworn there was editing. I certainly edited the heck out of mine before sending them in, because 200 words never seemed like enough to say all I had to say. The discipline was good, I appreciated the motivation to cut the chaff, whittle it down, get to the point.

The Idaho Press currently allows 300 words, which seems generous, and excessive, by turns, as you read through what they publish. It does not appear that they edit them in any way, whatsoever. Nor is there any quality-based selection in evidence. When I sent one in recently (maybe my first to them?) I waited, and waited, wondering if it wasn't good enough, or what. It was certainly short enough; I only used 170 words. Eventually, they ran it, not as timely a rejoinder as I'd hoped for, but it seems there's a two-week queue. (Two weeks seems an eternity these days.) Or maybe longer, and mine was so good they moved it up, who knows?

Anyway, the Idaho Press' letters section is like none other I can remember, for the range and quality of expression. It is a crossroads of opinion between the Wild West and the Great State of Ada, between Red America and Blue America. Not that geography divides us that cleanly, though. In today's batch, Tony Diehl of Boise rails against the paper's use of "BCE" for dates more than two millennia distant. And "CE" supplanting "AD." How dare they! When he is president, we'll all be able to say Anno Domini again. Pat Cone of Eagle, who "in the past" has "voted both democrat & republic," wrote that "I for one am sick of political speek" (and punctuation, apparently) concluded that "this year I will vote Republic." Among her complaints is, and I quote verbatim:

Polosi's house does not want to stay in town& do what owe elected them to do, such as get bills passed to help alll of us get the help we need to survive this virus, unless we send billions to State that did not

control their budgets. I don't expect some one to step in & bail me out when I do wrong. I think that's called responsibility.

There is a poignant letter from John Landers of Wilder, illustrating mental illness more directly, from the inside.

"I have problems with voices in my head and nightmares but also I tend to see things in the hospital that no one else can see and I also tend to isolate but it doesn't make me a bad person I just can't cope with the world because I see it as twisted and upside down."

We're gaining new-found empathy for that these days. Rex Dent, also of Boise, offers "one more chance before I cancel my subscription..." He "was told that the Idaho Press was a local paper that represented local values" and so has "not appreciated the unbalanced coverage of the AP stories selected and published. All the stories covering national politics are either pro Biden or anti Trump." He wants the IP "to pursue alternative view points and represent both candidates."

That got me looking closer at today's AP stories. A9 has Biden, in Kenosha, hails fight for racial progress, and a picture of Joe speaking (we presume) with a mask on, in front of an altar. Across the gutter on A8 (with a much smaller font), Trump suggests polling place double-check for mail-in voters, which is charitably understated, given that

In a series of tweets, Trump encouraged voters to go to their polling site to “see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly.”

That's representing both candidates, I'd say. The AP story goes on to detail the "widespread alarm [of] various officials and voting rights groups," at the president urging voters to commit a felony (which, in North Carolina is a felony itself), and +rump spox and press performer Kayleigh McEnany walking it back. "The president does not condone unlawful voting," she said. Good to know.

But today's winning letter is from Martin Duarte of Meridian, remarkably stopping 14 words shy of his limit (unless maybe they were counting some of the 22 exclamation points?) under a headline "Pattern." Before the last sentence ("What more is there to say?"), it has the feel of "let's just use the 2016 platform over again." Duarte fires for effect on, you guessed it, "Joe Biden’s friend and political/partner Barack Obama."

It's like the Golden Oldies channel, all the greatest hits. "God Dam America" sermons! Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, George Soros, and BENGHAAAAAZI. "4 Americans died!" (The CSSE at JHU dashboard currently shows that 186,830 and 4 Americans have died from Covid-19, and the world-leading mismanagement of the pandemic this year.)

History: Democracy’s/republics fail in approximately 200 years! It happens when the government is obligated to feed/provide for more of its citizens then it can support, and were well on our way!!!

I'm guessing Duarte will find more to say, sooner or later. Back in 2013, when he signed in from Kuna, he was more abstemious with the exclamations, but definitely sounding the alarm. Threats to American sovereignty are real, he wrote, and the 2nd Amendment can save us. "America’s private militia needs the same technology weaponry as an invading army!"

P.S. For anyone keeping score, this runs over 1,000 words. And a picture worth another 1,000, don't you think?

1.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"We don't agree in any of it" Permalink to this item

One of Jeanette's long, long-time friends shared Heather Cox Richardson's Aug. 30 Letter from an American with her, and a short list of friends. It's the one that starts

"Lots of folks are finally paying attention to the rise of authoritarianism here in the U.S. They are right to be concerned."

And goes on to detail exactly why we are right to be concerned.

Garden photo

"[+]rump is clearly trying to change the national narrative from his disastrous response to the coronavirus and the economic crash to the idea that he alone can protect white Americans from their dangerous Black neighbors.

"Stoking violence is a key tool in the authoritarian’s toolkit. The idea is to increase civil disorder. As violence increases, people will turn to a leader who promises “LAW & ORDER,” as Trump keeps tweeting. Once firmly in power, an authoritarian can then put down his opponents with the argument that they are dangerous criminals.

"Trump is advancing just such a strategy. ..."

She goes on to describe some of how he and members of his administration are doing so. I recommend it all, and that you subscribe to her nearly daily updates. They're an essential read, in my humble opinion. But anyway, the friends (?) of a friend were not as taken as I was. They replied to all, peevishly mangling prepositions:

"You indicated you would not send anymore if this political stuff. We don’t agree in any of it and we don't appreciate any of it."

How nice it must be to opt out of "this political stuff" and the gathering darkness, to choose "not to agree in any of it" and just la la la la la I can't hear you. Except that Some People Are Not Getting The Message, and insist on bringing it up after you asked so nicely to make it stop.

Election Day* Permalink to this item

Photo of outer ballot envelope

After her absentee ballot request went unanswered, Jeanette masked up and rode her bike to Fairmont Junior High, one of the limited polling places for today's Boise School District election. She was first to arrive after their 8 am opening, and so got to (officially) witness the ballots being unlocked. The pollworkers seemed a bit unsure of themselves, took a while to track her down in the roll, one of her many possible (and legal, as far as that goes) variations of surnames. Turns out there's an errant '-' in the works, and records vary. Maybe that's why the absentee ballot didn't get delivered? If Kris Kobach were in charge, she probably wouldn't have been allowed to vote.

As elections go, three people running for two Trustee seats on the school board, it's not all that exciting, but we can consider it as a low-stress practice run for what's coming. (Not that any of the BSD learning will get leveraged to November.) There were more issues than there should have been, explanations for each one.

It's more than a little quixotic and irksome that the BSD runs its elections outside of consolidation. (Ada County had a consolidated election a week ago, that could have just as well included this one.) The reason, given in don't-call-it-a-FAQ Facts, Questions and Answers, seems to combine "we called our schedule first," and "because we can."

The Boise School District Charter, established in 1881 and amended 65 years ago, declared the elections to be “biennially on the first Tuesday of September in the even numbered years.” And, "according to the Secretary of State and Ada County Elections, the Boise School District is exempt from the Election Consolidation Law passed in 2010 for Trustee Elections only." So there.


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007