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29.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sinking ships and missing evidence Permalink to this item

The trumpiest of the last administration's insiders were motivated to destroy evidence to hide their roles in the attempted coup. Add grand finale fill-ins for homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, and deputy Ken Cuccinelli to the Secret Service folx whose text messages "for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol" have vanished. Carol Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti report in the Washington Post.

"In a nearly identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agencywide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office did not notify Congress until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records."

Agencywide. Vanished. Seven months before the Trump loyalist inspector general Joseph Cuffari thought to mention it to Congress.

For his part, Wolf says he turned everything in to the DHS before he skittered down the hawser, five days after the Jan. 6 attack, suddenly uncomfortable about overstaying his "acting" ambit by, well, forever, since he was never lawfully serving as acting secretary. Whoops! H/t to Heather Cox Richardson for this bon mot from CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig:

Every federal law enforcement agency - including DHS / Secret Service - is fully aware that it must retain emails and texts, and has internal policies and technology to ensure compliance.

You don’t get to say “technology upgrade” and just toss everything out. They know this.

— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) July 29, 2022

27.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

(smiley face emoji) Permalink to this item

At some point in the series of moving violations that interrupted my street-legal operation of motor vehicles in my 17th year, a policeman reflected that "the wheels of justice grind slowly" and something. Presumably about catching up with me, which they did. Did he say "fine" or "exceedingly fine"? The pithiest version has been attributed to Sun Tzu of all people. A less worthy site includes "exceedingly," no attribution, and an invitation to "add your comment below," "what does this quote mean to you?"

The usual hillarity ensued, including Esmerelda's (possibly) prescient 5-year old answer, "It means that Trump's actions will catch up with him..." and a not-snappy retort from Faucon Noir (4 years ago), "No you idiot, it means that Hillary the murderess will soon go to jail for conspiracy and treason."

So, that didn't happen, but it is kind of maybe sort of looking like the first part might, finally, come true a leetle beet. Maybe. I haven't been keeping up with everything coming down, but it is definitely the case that Episode 8 from The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol is not the end of our story.

“Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.”
Donald J. Trump, to AAG Jeffrey Rosen

It's harder than you'd think to keep up with all the events unfolding a year and a half later; our daily thanks go out to Heather Cox Richardson, sending out the first draft of history on a regular basis. The July 26 edition of Letters from an American kicks off with "Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater at the New York Times reporting on previously undisclosed emails from the weeks before the January 6 insurrection, in which advisors openly referred to the slates of alternative electors they had prodded supporters to produce as “fake.”

The hed and dek get you up to speed in a hurry: ‘Kind of Wild/Creative’: Emails Shed Light on Trump Fake Electors Plan; "Previously undisclosed communications among Trump campaign aides and outside advisers provide new insight into their efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading to Jan. 6." And George Conway's illumination in the broad margin:

If you had asked me to hypothesize, for illustrative purposes, a set of emails that prosecutors would find helpful in proving a fake-elector fraud conspiracy, I would not have come up with anything nearly as incriminating as the emails that the Times just reported on today.

— George Conway🌻 (@gtconway3d) July 26, 2022

It has all the essentials for great opera. Everyone knows the basics of the plot, everyone knows who the bad guy is, but we can still be spellbound by the scrumptious details while we wait for him to get what's coming to him, by the inexorable machinery of divine justice. From the NYT:

“We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted,” Jack Wilenchik, a Phoenix-based lawyer who helped organize the pro-Trump electors in Arizona, wrote in a Dec. 8, 2020, email to Boris Epshteyn, a strategic adviser for the Trump campaign.

In a follow-up email, Mr. Wilenchik wrote that “‘alternative’ votes is probably a better term than ‘fake’ votes,” adding a smiley face emoji.

Jack Wilenchik is a new name for me, but Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, I've heard of her. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, yup. Boris Epshteyn, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Ronna McDaniel, Doug Mastriano, heard of all them in spades. Some lesser lights to add:

Mike Roman, director of Election Day operations for Trump’s campaign; another dodgy lawyer, Bruce Marks; deputy director of Election Day campaign operations Gary Michael Brown; and Christina Bobb, then at One America News Network.

Not that unwinding a conspiracy wild enough to make James Michener blush is the whole story. Even as President Joe Biden responds to Former Guy trying to punch back, "the American right wing is doubling down on authoritarianism." With roots in the old Iron Curtain:

"[T]oday one of Hungarian president Viktor Orbán’s longtime advisors resigned over what she called his recent “pure Nazi” speech about “mixed-race” nations. "I don't know how you didn't notice that the speech you delivered is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels," she wrote. And yet, Orbán is still scheduled to speak next month at the August 4 meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas."

Anything else? Oh, the "blockbuster story from Carol D. Leonnig, Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, and Spencer S. Hsu at the Washington Post." Shorter: the DOJ is coming after the Perpetrator in Chief. The two main lines are seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct a government proceeding (charges already made against members of the riotous mob, and the terrorist group leaders Stewart Rhodes and Henry "Enrique" Tarrio); and fraud associated with the false-electors scheme.

"[In]n recent weeks the public pace of the work has increased, with a fresh round of subpoenas, search warrants and interviews. Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, and lawyer, Greg Jacob, appeared before the grand jury in downtown Washington in recent days, according to the people familiar with the investigation."

In addition to criminal charges against more than 840 individuals, it's now "expanding to include an examination of events that occurred elsewhere in the days and weeks before the attack — including at the White House, in state capitols and at a D.C. hotel."

We've yet to get the inside dope from the Willard Hotel, but sooner or later, I'm thinking there's a smiley face emoji coming from there, too.

25.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Lock Him Up Permalink to this item

Emails from Richard Viguerie's screed mill, the ConservativeHQ, have found a way past my spam filter again, and it makes me think of rats climbing up out of a sewer grate. Most of the time, I just roll my eyes, delete and move on, but I opened one up this morning. The headlines and blurbs usually satisfy my curiosity, as they expand the universe of self-parody. Second item today, for example: Stop 'Carrying Water' for Karl Marx and Start Carrying Your Cross for Jesus. We're teased by this pithy observation: "The demonism of Marxism is subtly replacing the sufficiency of the cross."

I don't know how I could resist taking that jump, but I did. The lead item celebrates Steve Bannon (speaking of rats), and his vow "To Fight Show Trial Guilty Verdict," with a hashtag and this lede:

"If contempt of Congress is a crime it is one to which millions of patriotic Americans would happily plead guilty, because Congress, under Nancy Pelosi, has made itself contemptable [sic] in their eyes. Steve Bannon is right, we are in an ideological war, and we are proud to join him in that fight."

Yeah, well, it wasn't much of a show trial, was it? He was lawfully subpoenaed, and didn't cooperate. Not a particularly heavy lift for a jury of his peers to find him guilty. And it's kind of precious that CHQ's editor, George Rasley doesn't know how to spell "contemptible." Or "demonization."

We have to wait until October for Bannon's sentencing. Could be 30 days in jail, could be two years.

22.July.22 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Duck and cowards Permalink to this item

A prior obligation kept us from the January 6 committee's live hearing last night, but we watched the C-Span recording before bedtime. I took a few sparse notes, then settled in to watch and trust that it would all be subscribed and analyzed for me. Chairman Thompson was patched in from Covid quarantine for his opening summary. Spoiler alert.

“He lied. He bullied. He betrayed his oath. He tried to destroy our democratic institutions. He summoned a mob to Washington. Afterward, on January 6th, when he knew that the assembled mob was heavily armed and angry, he commanded the mob to go to the Capitol.

“And he emphatically commanded the heavily armed mob ‘TO FIGHT LIKE HELL.’”

And then for more than three hours, after the Secret Service wouldn't chauffeur him to the Capitol for his Mussolini moment, he stewed in the White House dining room, watching Fox News, and refusing all entreaties—from his closest advisors, lawyers, and even his family—to call off the mob, to stop his attempted insurrection. The means for recording his day—call logs, daily diary, WH photog—were all shut down. As Rep. Adam Kinzinger put it in his opening statement, our dishonorable and derelict POTUS "did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home; he chose not to act."

As usual, Heather Cox Richardson whipped out the first draft of history more capably and more quickly than I could ever hope to do. She notes Scott Simon of NPR highlighted something we've been taking for granted over the course of the eight public committee hearings:

“The Democratic chair of the committee just gracefully, and with full confidence, turned over the running of tonight’s hearing to the vice-chair, who happens to be of another party, and they spoke with mutual trust and respect. That’s how it’s supposed to go.”

If only the Senate Republicans had honored their oath to the Constitution, we wouldn't be having this conversation; Trump would have been convicted and removed from office after his first impeachment. Instead, we had a junior psychopath, Josh Hawley, to raise his hand—and then his fist—in service to the derelict.

"The committee showed the image of Hawley raising his fist…and then showed footage of him running at top speed through the Capitol when the rioters broke in."

Still image of Hawley fleeing

And finally, thoughts and preyers:

"Cheney then spoke to Trump supporters, reminding them that the testimony had come from Republicans who supported Trump. She played the recently discovered audio clip of Trump confidant Stephen K. Bannon on October 31, 2020, four days before the election, explaining with laughter that Trump would simply declare victory even if he lost. Cheney explained to supporters that they had been set up.

"Flattering them, she said Trump knew he could convince his supporters that the election was stolen because he knew they loved their country and that they would put their lives at stake for it, “preying on their patriotism... on their sense of justice.” “On January 6th, Donald Trump turned their love of country into a weapon against our Capitol and our Constitution.”

Rep. Kinzinger: “The forces Donald Trump ignited that day have not gone away. The militant, intolerant ideologies. The militias, the alienation and the disaffection. The weird fantasies and disinformation. They're all still out there. Ready to go."

— ABC News (@ABC) July 22, 2022

19.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

My trip to the library Permalink to this item

2018 photo, Biertan, Romania

Long dream this morning, the air cool enough to make all the way under the quilt comfortable (for a change), some sort of post-technology future with no explanation for where it went, but the people who were left to sort it out were reinventing society and inter-tribal relations from scratch. In various ways. There were councils, a stave church, at least one large wooden boat, and it all felt rather Scandinavian, or Saxon. No sense of climate disaster to it; the surroundings were lush and green. The only weapons in evidence were knives and clubs, and none had to be employed. Yet. In my dream. Gift of a cool overnight. Is that all connected to the library visit? Hard to say, but it's still on my mind first thing.

Yesterday, returning that book that the NYT Book Review saved me the trouble of plodding through, I had a question, and there was a line at the front desk. A somewhat hyperactive middle schooler, a young woman, and a preschool boy were ahead of me. The older boy had the floor and wanted to know "Where's my worst enemy?" which seemed a remarkable question to me. The librarian correctly inferred it meant "Where's 'My Worst Enemy'?" and looked it up. (Maybe I have the phrase wrong, but along those lines.)

"Yes, we have several copies of that, but they're all checked out. There are others... would you like me to put in a request for you?"

The boy wasn't anywhere close to making eye contact, but engaged in the transaction. "Yes," he said, as if to no one, or the rafters, looking into some distance away from both the librarian and me. "Yes I would."

"Do you have your library card with you?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," he said, and walked away, to wherever it was, which is when I realized the three people ahead of me were not all together. The woman was next.

"I'm looking for something about where babies come from, for a preschooler," she said, nodding and pointing toward her son, who was busy exploring whatever he could reach in front of the counter too high for him to see over. "Ah, yes," the librarian said, and went after the next research task with brio.

Another librarian showed up to relieve the queue, sat down at her machine, and I was next. "Can you look up a book that I checked out recently?" I wondered. They don't actually keep those records, she told me, which is what I figured, and probably as it should be. "There is one thing I could check," she said. "What was the subject?"

"Automotive technology," I replied, "self-driving cars." She riffed through her view of email notices they'd sent me for books due, and/or auto-renewed, and asked, "could it have been in February?" Yes, maybe. "Is it... Autonorama?" stumbling over the keyword in the title. (It's hard because OUGHT-oh looks to come first but the accents need a different rhythm, aw-TAH-nuh-RAM-uh.) "That's it!" I exclaimed in delight, "the magic word!" My recent searches by subject had turned up mostly the breathless enthusiasm of proponents, rather than this clear-eyed look at "the illusory promise of high-tech driving," which I had failed to put on my best-of reading list. With the made-up word in hand, I can now find where I put it in my blog. In February. A decent little review of it, and an unrequested look into my overloaded memory for the last half-year. Too much to remember it all, that's why I write things down.

Back at home, I mined my email for library notices, to make a list of some of the books I'd checked out in the last 5 years. (I'd already deleted a lot of the notices; but had a few dozen anyway.) I recognized several that were so good I bought my own copy, and haven't got around to finishing them, because there are so many more good books to read. And stuff.

18.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A lot of money to follow Permalink to this item

Judd Legum's Twitter thread teasing his latest on Popular Information got me to take the jump, which you should, too: The billionaires buying the midterm elections. There's the motivating graph, illustrating what the Citizens United decision did for the genre, and too many mind-blowing factoids, such as:

"During the first two years of the pandemic, the net worth of the 44 billionaires who donated this cycle to the main Democratic and Republican Super PACs increased by $168 billion."

Billion with a "B." A "small percentage" of that is going a long way toward "shap[ing] the federal government to meet their economic and ideological interests." For example? "Meet Republican billionaire Ken Griffin," who is in for $28.5M through the end of March:

In a 2012 interview, Griffin was asked if "the ultrawealthy have an inordinate or inappropriate amount of influence on the political process."

"I think they actually have an insufficient influence," he replied.

Griffin says he wants the government to be less involved in financial markets. "I spend way too much of my time thinking about politics these days because government is way too involved in financial markets these days," Griffin said. "[T]he government being involved in picking winners and losers invariably leads to a loss of economic freedom and encourages corruption."

Such a remarkably conclusory statement, masquerading as wisdom when uttered by somebody with $tens of millions in pocket change. He obviously knows a lot about "economic freedom," and, we assume, encouraging corruption. (He's "one of the largest donors to Governor Ron DeSantis.") Legum continues, and let me just bold-face the punchline in passing:

"Griffin was happy to have the government involved in 2008, when his hedge fund plummeted 55%, hemorrhaging $8 billion in client assets. Worse, Citadel was a securities lending counterparty with AIG, a large insurance and financial company on the verge of collapse. If AIG went under, it could have taken Citadel with it.

"Instead, AIG received a $182 billion taxpayer bailout. As part of this, AIG was able to pay counterparties full value for their otherwise worthless contracts. Citadel got a $200 million cash infusion financed by taxpayers. (Ben Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve Chairman who engineered the AIG bailout, now works for Griffin at Citadel.)"

There's a Democratic billionaire to meet too, his anecdote being spending $912 per vote for a primary-losing candidate for Congress out of Oregon. It's a bigger story than the short column; Peter Thiel gets a scant mention.

Some pissant rounding error of all this vigorish finds its way to Idaho, for Sun Valley fly-ins, and to keeping the gears of the so-called Idaho Freedom Foundation grinding, doing its best to promote the sort of freedom that billionaires love best: lower taxes, and less regulation, and attacking public education.

12.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

GET MONEY FAST (What's in a name?) Permalink to this item

A certain web maintenance group email account of mine attracts a circus of spammy phisherfolx, messages reliably filtered by Google groups, so far. And no political stuff, a cheery respite. This morning, I was struck by the made-up names, and the name dropping. First up, from "GTF" (O?), "Hello Lucky Beneficiary," announcing the million € grant "by Greta Thunberg," after I/it/we "were selected out of a list of registered emails provided by Microsoft." Seems totally legit.

Then "Hello My Belove," from "Mrs Elizabeth Harry," with no issue but €6.2M to burn. NICOLE ROSSETTI says "we have an investment proposal," not as alluring. Shan Tennyson has an apparently identical proposal with the same hook. ("Kindly contact for more details.") Mr. Jess Stanley chairman, president and CEO of Barclays Bank London United kingdom England took time out of his busy day to welcome me ("Dear Beneficiary") to his bank. And last but not least, Patrick Esq. dangles $9.8 Million compensation for [my] efforts, if I "Do contact my secretary Mrs. Cynthia Innocent" for the money. Woot.

11.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Rebels without a cause Permalink to this item

On my way to the clinic today, three motorcycle riders in their gang kit were weaving through traffic while I was on cruise in the right lane, and ended up in the same ramp queue as me. I was headed right; they realized they were heading left, late. Trundling their hogs across two stopped lanes of traffic, they ended up sideways, lined up to make a weird lane change on green. (I suppose, the right arrow came on before the left, and I was gone before.) But they sat next to me on display while we all waited. Somebody's compiled a list of the most dangerous motorcycle gangs in the US. The URL says "ten," but the list has thirty. The Amigos are apparently too friendly to have made the cut. Their team leathers feature a machete (or a big knife?) and a pistol, so that's something? Their website is a bit of a hot mess. Too busy riding to keep it up.

Inside the clinic, masks are "required" for everyone, appropriately enough, as everybody in the waiting room has one or more health problems, and the pandemic is still going. One guy old enough to know better walks in with a "show" masks strapped on to his chin with elastic around his head. It looked uncomfortable and stupid, simultaneously. Made a statement.

The dismal "science" Permalink to this item

After the NPR intro about how the June job report scared away the bogeyman of "recession" for a moment, guest business analyst/media commentator Jill Schlesinger centered downshifting in her blather while I was whizzing own the local interstate highway. Sure there were 372,000 new jobs added in June, but in the first quarter, it was running half a million a month, and in the second quarter only 380,000 a month, and besides have you seen how expensive gas is these days?

No ETOH 5.559/gal

Yes, I have noticed that, along with the fact that the price goes up easier than it comes down. In March, Russia's attack on Ukraine spiked the price of West Texas Intermediate over $120/barrel, with roller coaster peaks following of $115 that same month, then $108, 110, 114, and above $120 again in June. Then rolling back down, to troughs of $104.27 June 23, and below $100 over the 4th of July weekend. $103.53 midday today. Gas station around the corner has ramped my preferred flavor (no ethanol) closer to $6 than $5/gal, and has just barely lowered it (4¢) last I checked.

Inflation is a worldwide phenomenon right now, not just in this country. The US jobs report, with more detail about sectors that are gaining (business, computer design, administration, research, manufacturing, transportation) and losing (leisure and hospitality) workers are discussed in Heather Cox Richardson's latest daily, with a link to Thom Hartmann's capsule history of the last half century in econ.

In particular, the "Reagan Revolution," in which "radical tax cuts, pollution deregulation, destroying unions, and slashing the support services the New Deal and Great Society once offered people (because, Republicans said, feeding, educating, or providing healthcare to people made them dependent)" started a 40 year run of concentrating economic power in a corporate oligarchy. (The "morbidly rich," Hartmann aptly termed them.) So that the "trickled down" would become a flood of prosperity. How's that working out?

18/ Instead of a more general prosperity, we’ve now ended up with the greatest wealth and income inequality in the world, as over $50 trillion was transferred over 40 years from the bottom 90% to the top 1%, where it remains to this day.

— Thom Hartmann (@Thom_Hartmann) July 3, 2022

Bringing it closer to home, while gas prices can rocket up, they only ever glide down (like "feathers"), and the oil industry posts "jaw-dropping profits." HCR:

"One of the reasons for the crazy highs is speculation by largely unregulated energy traders that creates massive volatility in prices. Lack of regulation is in the news today in another industry, too, as journalists from media organizations including the Guardian, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and the Washington Post revealed how Uber evaded regulators by using a “kill switch” that shut down regulators’ access to the files they needed to monitor the company."

Mitch McConnell's "kill switch" is featured in her last paragraph, his work to sabotage any and all attempts at change, and confident that keeping the economic news as bad as possible for another, say, four months, will amply serve his agenda, after which it won't matter, because if his party can get above a tie in one house of Congress (never mind a majority in both), the "revolution" may be effectively permanent. At least for the rest of his sorry lifetime.

9.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Numerology Permalink to this item

The New Yorker's "Culture Desk" had an eye-catching headline with all good words (if not in an order I would have used): Teaching Myself Calculus at Sixty-Five. If it were me, it wouldn't be "penetrat[ing] the mysteries of mathematics" as much as a high school reunion, with the inevitable shock of seeing how old your friends have become (while you haven't changed that much, have you?). I can't say I have the mathematical version of perfect pitch, but I'm nearer the antipode of "math-deaf," where he said he thought he might be.

"As a boy, I had been kicked off the math train at the algebra station," Alec Wilkinson writes by way of introduction, tickling my own memory of learning algebra in 8th grade, somewhat remarkable back then, not so much today, even as plenty of young students don't learn algebra in that grade, or ever. Some may get through by cheating (as Wilkinson says he did), which provides a different sort of lesson.

There's more meta, and history than math in his charming essay about our not really real science and its demonstrable truths. And it's a sly wrapper to tease his forthcoming book, A Divine Language: Learning Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus at the Edge of Old Age.

"Mathematics, it turns out, is suffused with mysteries, and, though I could understand only simple ones, I was intrigued. The simplest one is where numbers come from. They don’t typically appear in creation stories....

"Numbers are a mystery enfolded into ordinary life. They surround us the way radio waves and dark matter do, and, like hurricanes and white sharks and big cats, they suggest the edges of the inapprehensible....

"Numbers did not initially provoke wonder or reverence. They did that later, partly because they invoked notions of infinity and therefore of God and, after that, because they appeared to be a language in which nature could be expressed. And because, on examination, numbers showed themselves to be complex in ways that had nothing to do with what we thought about them."

Corresponding with my sister gave me reason to look for a reference book from my college days recently. I waded through one of the boxes of books I'd brought home when I left the cube farm, 19 years ago, and had to confront the fact that most of them had no remnant value beyond a dab of nostalgia. (And they were in the way of what I was looking for, besides.) They had answers to questions that I would never find time or reason to ask, again, or ever, as the case may be. The mystery they now embody is mostly about when I will let go, and whether anyone else will be the least interested.

So I didn't click through to buy another book, but I did check to see if my local library might loan it to me. (Nope; it's too new.) Maybe I'll remember to look again in a little while, intrigued by this friendly review on the Amazon page:

"Writing with warm humor and sharp observation as he traverses practical math’s endless frustrations and rewards, Wilkinson provides an awe-inspiring account of an adventure from a land of strange sights. Part memoir, part metaphysical travel book, and part journey in self-improvement, A Divine Language is one man’s second attempt at understanding the numbers in front of him, and the world beyond."

6.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Wave that flag Permalink to this item

Flag photo

Last week I noticed the big flag at our grocery store flying at the top of the pole, and wondered how often that's the case anymore. Yesterday, it was back at half-staff, for the latest, top-of-the-news, mass shooting. This one a sniper shooting spectators at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

The definition of "mass shooting" used by the Gun Violence Archive and others seems out of date anymore. To make GVA's list, "only" 4 people need be injured. There were two shootings yesterday. Eleven on the 4th of July. Three each on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July. That's 22 in 5 days. Twenty-four dead, 130 injured, in 16 different states.

Those numbers don't include Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio, who was shot and killed on June 27. By police. Who managed to shoot one man more than sixty times, before handcuffing him and taking him to the morgue. (Reflecting "standard police training," a lawyer who specializes in use-of-force cases assured us.) Précis in the subheads:

2.July 2022 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Micro-economics Permalink to this item

Big picture, statistical view, my use of healthcare insurance rocketed up once I was on Medicare. There's a lot more to the story than that, but for most of us, the older we get, the more attention we're going to need. One component of the big picture arrived today in the form of a bill from Boise Advanced Imaging, PLLC, today. Return address is a PO Box in Yorktown Heights, New York. The Send Payment to address is a PO Box in Colchester, Illinois. I had an X-ray, for which BAI PLLC billed $20. (Cheap!) Humana's Medicare Advantage plan discounted away $11.57, paid $6.73, and left me a bill for $1.70. I could pay online, at (if that wasn't "not found," and I wanted to set up a Royal account. Their home page says it's "Patient Driven Healthcare," and RADIOLOGY RUNS ON ROYAL, and Now in 32 states, 550 locations, and Reaching 25M patients per year.

They've got a lot of story to tell, including How we interop. But I'll be damned if I can find anything for this patient to drive healthcare by getting them quick-paid their $1.70.

The statement offers a 208 (i.e. Idaho) phone number I could call with billing questions Mon-Thur 9am to 4pm CT (maybe the folks in Illinois think it's Iowa). A first class stamp has never seemed so cheap. And every aspect of this nationwide enterprise is losing money.

Image of Boise Advanced Imaging envelope misalign

The X-ray was good, though, and just what I needed at the moment! Also, getting me a bill less than a month after the date of service is way above my average experience.

After writing my check, tearing off the return-with-payment portion (at the fold, which seemed to be perforated, rather than the dashed line, which did not), and dropping them in the envelope, this:

Don't think that would have made it to Illinois. I propped up the slip with some tape, and trimmed the top to the dashed line, and away it goes.

Start freaking out Permalink to this item

Yard flowers

While we're still reeling from this week's hammer blows from the six radical activists on the high court, they've pre-announced their plan for their next term, "pre-rigging the presidential election of 2024," as Thom Hartmann puts it, in The Nightmare Scenario SCOTUS is Plotting For the 2024 Election Takeover.

Nitty gritty pre-rigging details in Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog entry: "Moore v. Harper, an “independent state legislature” theory case from North Carolina ... has the potential to fundamentally rework the relationship between state legislatures and state courts in protecting voting rights in federal elections. It also could provide the path for election subversion."

Which would sound pretty crazy if we hadn't lived through the 2000, 2016, and 2020 elections, and the attempted coup coming to a head on January 6, 2021. Now, giving "state legislatures the power to pre-rig or simply hand elections to the candidate of their choice" is under discussion. Speaking of the concurrence from Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas in Bush v. Gore (2000) declaring that "in a Presidential election the clearly expressed intent of the legislature must prevail":

That doctrine — the basis of John Eastman and Donald Trump’s effort to get states to submit multiple slates of electors — asserts that a plain reading of Article II and the 12th Amendment of the Constitution says that each state’s legislature has final say in which candidate gets their states’ Electoral College vote, governors and the will of the voters be damned.

Back in the day, Jeb Bush was ready to have the Florida legislature declare his brother the winner, if SCOTUS didn't rule their way and stop an accurate assessment of the razor thin margin, while ballots were still being reviewed and recounted. (Maybe somebody leaked a draft of the concurrence to him.) "This has been a long time coming."

Stop freaking out Permalink to this item

In the brief part of my life going solo, I learned a thing or two about cooking. One: The secret to a good pie crust is to stop mixing before it seems like it's done. That's extensible to more of life; bake until the sort of brown you like, and share with good friends.

That comes to mind after The Atlantic called my attention to Arthur C. Brooks' column, "How to Build a Life," and reading my first episode, How to Stop Freaking Out. "If you can prevent your emotions from taking over in the face of stress, you can avoid a lot of regret and set a good example for others." Count to 30. Get outside (and over) your self. Write it down.

"[L]earning to be a student of yourself is the most important step to becoming emotionally healthier. If you do the fascinating work of getting to know your mind, you will possess a source of power that will change your life for the better."


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007