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13.May 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mistakes were made Permalink to this item

Tomas Pueyo was a great source of useful information and analysis over the course of the pandemic. I'm on his freeloader subscription list, a candidate to upgrade on substack, if and when I ever do such a thing. His latest effort hit me a little flat, though. Billed as The Top 24 Mistakes of COVID Mismanagement, it seemed a bit... click-baity, but he's got enough credbility for an open. They're ordered from least important to most, because... that worked so well for Dave Letterman, I guess. And oh, the email wasn't big enough! You have to go to the web to see the top 10 list!

As promised, it "will be updated," and now he's got The Top 25 Mistakes of COVID Mismanagement already. Aimed at management, I guess, rather than a broad audience? It's weird. The least important failure was Infection Parties. Not having infection parties. Huh.

24. Immunity Passports thud next, on the same day we're reading that the CDC has declared all you vaccinated folks (all we vaccinated folks, thanks) can TAKE OFF YOUR MASKS. Not that we're going to do Passports, or Badges, or Vax Cards.

Here's bona fide dumbass Dan Gookin, Coeur d'Alene city council member, giving authoritarianisms in the Twittersphere the finger with his forged vaccination card. So, 23. Not Knowing Who to Trust, for sure.

Given the signal that tens of less important items are ahead of the most important ones, it's an invitation to skim. An exhortation, almost. Scrolling down for the headlines I hit 18. Forgetting that Good Fences Make Good Neighbors and OMG. Dude. You missed the whole point of Robert Frost's classic poem. The guy who said that was WRONG. Good neighbors make good neighbors. Fences have their place, but they sure as hell don't make good neighbors. If you have a bad neighbor, a fence doesn't fix the problem.

Be The Mister Rogers sign

We have a ton of bad neighbors here in Idaho, people willing to cut off their nose to spite their face. Even before the bad fence metaphor, 22. Underestimating People’s Willingness to Do the Right Thing.

A mistake experts made? What seems at issue here is OVERESTIMATING people's willingness to do simple, obvious, not-really-all-that-inconvenient things for THEIR OWN BENEFIT and for the benefit of public health. The responses to suggestions of "here's what we need to do for public health" was THIS IS TYRANNY, WE WILL RESIST YOU AT ALL COSTS, WE ARE ARMED.

In the Know-Nothing zone, people who have a hard time thinking clearly are not turning to "experts," but rather seeking out loud voices that feed their confirmation bias and/or paranoia.

Mr. Rogers did not have anything good (or bad) to say about fences, I'll bet. No fence to be found on this list of 70. Jesus himself might have said what's at the top:

"Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person."

At the bottom of Pueyo's email, just above the click-to-see-the-top-10 jump, 11. Misunderstanding Individual Freedom. We definitely are all over that one.

12.May 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Down the rathole Permalink to this item

It remains to be seen whether we're seeing just the end of the Republican Party or the end of our democratic experiment. In any event, Rep. Liz Cheney has provided an epitaph.

"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."
– Liz Cheney

Of course a raucous closed-door meeting of House Republicans featured booing. Utah booed their own senator, Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for President. They're tired of being lectured! Bring some more of that pugnacious derision and ridicule from Big Loser that they can't get enough of! Let's talk about a "stolen" election, because how could a guy who never cracked 50% approval have lost?

My tl;dr from Heather Cox Richardson's latest: 63% of Americans approve of the job President Joe Biden is doing. The NYT news today has video excerpts of Cheney's public speeh yesterday. And today's inside dope:

In her parting remarks, Ms. Cheney urged Republicans not to “let the former president drag us backward,” according to a person familiar with the private comments who detailed them on condition of anonymity. Ms. Cheney warned that Republicans were going down a path that would bring their “destruction,” and “possibly the destruction of our country,” the person said, adding that if the party wanted a leader who would “enable and spread his destructive lies,” they should vote to remove her.

And so they did. I'm sure Idaho's Rep. Russ Fulcher was in the drooling mob shouting DROWN THE WITCH! I hope our Rep. Mike Simpson was not, but we won't know unless he tells us, and in far-right Idaho, and red districts across the land, the experienced members of Congress have become well-practiced in hiding under their desks.

The House members "ultimately opted not to hold a recorded vote, after Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, said that they should vote by voice to show unity."

Emerging from the meeting, Ms. Cheney remained unremorseful, and said she was committed to doing “everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets near the Oval Office.”

“We must go forward based on truth,” Ms. Cheney told reporters. “We cannot both embrace the big lie and embrace the Constitution.”

Jonathan Chait distills the rump party's "strategy": "to allow [Big Loser] to hunt his internal critics to extinction." And the wider, historical view:

By ousting a leader for telling the truth about the election -- the Republican Party is proudly declaring that it no longer believes in democratic government.

In a democracy, you have free & fair elections, & the winners win.

You have competition for public approval and power.

— Dr. Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) May 12, 2021

Speaking of prophecy, who can forget Lindsay Graham's shining moment of perspicacity, 5 years ago this month?

Lindsey Graham, May, 2016

8.May 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Smash, grab, and bully Permalink to this item

A recent messaging campaign by The Idaho 97 urged our state legislators to "Please allow early childhood funding for Idaho," with direct language befitting the tail end of a session that has gone on far too long. (It's on the way to setting a record, abetted by its second "recess." The first one was forced by Covid-19 infections among members and staff, thanks to the general refusal to follow public health measures. This second one is to give the super-majority a chance to override any vetoes the Governor may make to the pile of bills they've sent him, their bid to nullify the tyranny of having an executive branch.)

One member of the House, District 5 Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, of Genesee was not happy at being on the receiving end. She sent her own bulk reply, calling the messages "insulting, bullying and demeaning," and "angry." She said she would "continue to fight for all budgets that support education in Idaho. I stand by my votes and my personal integrity. And I won’t stand for bullying of any kind."

And it should be pointed out, she was the only one of the many recipients in the legislature who replied at all. Good on her for that. Let's keep the dialogue going! Here's my reply today:

Dear Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy:

Thank you for your reply to the message I sent with the help of the Idaho 97 project. I appreciate your invitation to send you a direct message.

Catching up on the whirlwind of political news this weekend, your complaint about "insulting, bullying and demeaning" seems very strange to me. My advocating for early childhood education is motivated by concern for our future. It's nearly incomprehensible to me that there is a debate over accepting a multiyear, $6 million grant for education in Idaho, but that's where we are.

Wayne Hoffman sent out a victory message even before this longest-ever legislative session is brought to a close. Under the subject "winners," his headline was "Overall, a good session." He says "freedom-lovers owned education issues." I agree with him that "education is the single most important issue for the free future of our state," at least; except the part where he inserts "free" as justification for his and the Idaho Freedom Foundations campaign to sabotage our constitutionally mandated "system of public, free common schools."

His message goes on to celebrate that the "Pre-K indoctrination grant is dead" -- which is to say he and his allies on the extreme right succeeded in killing the $6M in funding for early childhood education, by fomenting lies and propaganda about it being "indoctrination."

You say you continue to fight for education funding. Thank you. I hope you will fight harder, because IT ISN'T WORKING VERY WELL.

The other news I'm considering this morning is about David Pettinger, Jessica and Mariana Marcu at a Republican Party gathering last night, continuing to harass and attempt to out the victim of what forced Aaron Ehlinger out of the legislature. "Insulting, bullying and demeaning" is too mild a description for that. It is horrific, vile, disgusting.

It is hard not to feel anger at such tactics.

The need for good people in the Republican Party to declare the end to them has never been greater.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Update: She responded inside two hours, with a thoughtful message, quoting someone else's email that she'd found most offensive. She said "I agree about the issue of early childhood education. I supported the first bill (226) and plan to support 1193," and noted that the Freedom Foundation "is a libertarian group, not a [R]epublican organization." True dat, but it's the tail that wags the dog of our legislature too much of the time.

6.May 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

National day of prayer Permalink to this item

Up Cole with the wind, down Glenwood with gravity, too, business at the bank this morning. The insides were gleaming, two young women staffing the operation, and no one inside but them and me. My assistant vice president tickled her keyboard, I poked and slid the stylus across a digital pad, and that was that.

Street signs

Now then, the way home was not on a schedule, and climbing the Glenwood hill is unlovely. Jog over to Coffey, somehow, on the other side of the ugly intersection with Chinden? Nah, I'm at Kent Lane, and there are better ways out than west, or south. North to Alworth, and around the horse track, noting its wire fence with the opaque screening. To keep the horses from being distracted? To keep freeloaders from seeing the race? But there are no horses, no freeloaders, no races. Just the monument to past gambles. I gambol on.

52d St. says NO OUTLET but I know it's a lie. It forks Remington, and the path downriver, and 52nd continues down to the upriver greenbelt path, six-tenths of a mile unwelcome diversion on those streets from what should be a quarter-mile along the river, but for two inhabitants who love their pieces of the river bottom flood plain and did not want to share. And a 3½ acre wedge owned by the county. I leaned right, past Giggle Lane, down to the river, up the river path. It's winding, from there. Either side of a lovely little garden there's a firm [NO TRESPASSING], and a [Welcome to our pollinator garden]. The path traverses a short stretch of Mystic Cove Way, finds the river again just up from Mystic Cove Park, and I'm remembering Snowmageddon when this was underwater, and I used the side bank, or waded through carefully, but before that OMG LOOK AT THIS BENCH THEY PUT IN.

It's Reham Aarti's "Hello Friend," 2019, and it is sparkling in the dappled sunshine. I stop to appreciate this perfect piece of art, how have I not done so before now? There is a fallen cottonwood twig on the seat, three dark green leaves, as if someone left the sprig in memory of a friend. The owlish hole-in-the-back looks to the river and its cottonwoods.

Reham Aarti art bench, 'Hello Friend,' 2019

Then the city side gets industrial, hammering of steel on steel is the ring of a morning's work, something automotive. Cascade River Gear, right handy to the river, a meat packer (shades of the offal past), then 43rd St., where a troop of school kids are being herded around the corner, perhaps from Future Public School, over to the Boys & Girls Club of Ada County or Riverfront Park (which isn't quite river-fronting, but close). I signal my right turn, the boy in the lead (I was always that boy in the lead) called up short by the young man leading from the middle, cheerfully but firm, "ok wait right there!"

About the third time I heard a sing-song "Hi bike rider" I realized that some kid was calling to me, it was language. I was grinning too big and passing and did not turn and reply as cheerfully as I'd been greeting everyone I met on the path. Then the means-to-and-end street, where I noticed that beautiful, shaded bungalow has added a funky two-story mother-in-law, and someone else is excavating today, and across Chinden, ugh, to climb back up the bench. A man walking down the sidewalk is talking to someone in his head, I hear "I'm ok," and I think "good," and up at the top curve, the incomparable corner lot overlooking Settlers Canal and a secret slough, where the sewer dropoff usually makes a malodorous cloud is COMING SOON and one can only imagine for how much. Get your bids in quick. 1.4 acres, 5,000 square feet, 5 bdrm, 3.5 bath, pool, a house-sized industrial building and beautiful landscaping. North of $2M I'm guessing, never mind the $893k assessment. Zillow's pre-listing "Zestimate" is 1.65M.

Back in my neighborhood, I note what's in bloom, all the trees leafing (or leafed) out by now, dogwood in splendor, a few irises, there's some Allium giganteum, and thus, back home.

The point being, it was much too nice a day to be staying in my room to pray, and it's not right to go on a street corner or capitol steps to do that. and why not make something beautiful out of a mundane errand? It's like Peter Mayer sings it, you know: everything is Holy Now.

5.May 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

That's what she said Permalink to this item

Jennifer Rubin: Fix the filibuster, save democracy.

"We know from the Republicans’ support of the Big Lie and their intolerance of honest argument that objections they raise to modification of the filibuster are not offered in good faith. This is a party dedicated to minority rule and to using all possible instruments, including deceit, to beat back democracy. We have seen what minority, authoritarian rule leads to: violence, rejection of truth, the normalization of white supremacy, and antipathy toward equal protection under the law. Manchin and other Democrats should want no part of this."

May the Fourth, 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The ultimate cancel culture Permalink to this item

40 years ago (my goodness), "adjunctification" was the new, new thing, not known by that name, as university administrators were guiding it below the radar.

It was obvious to the people on the short end of it much sooner, but this 7 year-old item on The Review dimensions the unfair pay and no benefits element of the rise of adjunct professors. (By which the author meant the rise of adjunctifying, not the adjuncts themselves.)

L.D. Burnett notes that we've reached the point where fewer than 1 in 3 college profs have tenure, or the possibility of tenure. As she writes on Medium, the biggest threat to “viewpoint diversity” on college campuses is "the precarity of faculty employment." Adjunctification is the Ultimate “Cancel Culture.”

May Day 2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

дезинформация Permalink to this item

Thinking about "disinformation" after reading Heather Cox Richardson's overnight wrap for April. What Dr. Herb Lin said to the House Armed Services Committee in regard to IT and information warfare:

“Information warfare threat to the United States is different from past threats, and it has the potential to destroy reason and reality as a basis for societal discourse, replacing them with rage and fantasy. Perpetual civil war, political extremism, waged in the information sphere and egged on by our adversaries is every bit as much of an existential threat to American civilization and democracy as any military threat imaginable.”

Erin Schaff photo/NYT

There's been a lot of that rage and fantasy going around lately. The FBI closing in on Rudy Giuliani as we have an operational Department of Justice again, unraveling the oligarch connections that gave Paul Manafort some well-deserved jail time, and led to the first of failed former guy's impeachments. No more pardons on offer these days, either.

If you can believe Rudy (ha ha), he said when the FBI came calling he said ‘Well, don’t you want these?’ And they said, ‘What are they?’ I said, ‘Those are Hunter Biden’s hard drives.’ And they said, ‘No, no, no, no.’

Rudy's got a son in the mix too, Andrew, seen "expressing outrage" at having a search warrant executed at his dad's place, accusing the DOJ of "politicization," is a nice touch. The former guy's lawyer's lawyer said "Giuliani never peddled disinformation on the Bidens," orly? They should be spinning up a libel suit against NPR then, which reported last October that Rudy "is known for making discredited claims about the Bidens." His big October surprise fizzled:

"Giuliani has repeatedly amplified discredited claims, to the point that Fox News' internal research team warned the network's journalists against relying upon him. Among the sources Giuliani turned to was a man whom the Trump administration's Treasury Department has designated as a Russian agent. Last month, Treasury officials said Andrii Derkach has pushed disinformation in Ukraine to spur unfounded corruption investigations and media coverage in hopes of damaging Biden and influencing the 2020 race."

That of course was after the 2019 October surprise of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman getting arrested at Dulles, their one-way tickets to Austria converted to a new destination, "hours after having lunch with Rudy Giuliani" at former guy's DC hotel. There was supposed to be a Rudy Rendezvous the next day, but whoops. All the greatest hits come back to me when I look back in the blog here, The Untouchables, now very touched.

Paul Waldman: Don’t let the GOP’s buffoonery distract you from its sinister intentions. "Though [the former guy] may be fading, that combination of stupidity and malevolence is still the signature quality of the party he left behind."


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007