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20.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Now back to political doom and gloom Permalink to this item

My day started with a brief skim of Mastodon, Marcy Wheeler (aka "emptywheel") responding to Dan Gillmor's toot, my emphasis added:

Don't be fooled by the Republicans' intra-party "fighting" over the government shutdown. They're essentially all in on this. Their goal(s)? Occam's Razor says:

1) Trigger a recession that -- because Big Journalism will publish whatever the Republicans claim, however untrue -- will be blamed on Democrats since they hold the White House.

2) Panic the Democrats (again with journalism's help) to give into massive cuts in programs that, you know, help people.

What Wheeler added was "See also the press not running glaring headlines saying, 'Republicans forced thousands of children back into poverty.'" I looked, and found an op-ed, at least, Petula Dvorak's column in the Washington Post: America can take care of our poorest children. We just don’t want to.

"A year ago, the rate was the lowest we’ve ever seen — just 5.2 percent. We were in Scandinavian territory..."

And then?

"We killed the program, pushing millions of kids back into poverty and more than doubling the rate to 12.4 percent."

But as important a story as child poverty is (for a party that styles itself "pro-life"), that's not the main event. It's autocracy vs. democracy, remember? And today's Hartmann Report has the 40+ year backstory I didn't know I needed: The Shutdown is the Two Santa Clauses Scam Rearing its Ugly Head Again. Never mind the jolly metaphor; the trickle down strategy that's now in its 5th decade of implementation is calculated looting by the billionaire class.

It’s no accident or coincidence that the threat of a failure to pay the nation’s bills or fund an upcoming year never once happened during the presidencies of Reagan, Bush, Bush, or Trump. Or that it did happen every single time during the presidencies of Clinton, Obama… and, now, Biden. ...

[W]hen Republicans control the White House they must spend money like a drunken Santa and cut taxes on the rich, all to intentionally run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. ...

Then comes part two of the one-two punch: when a Democrat is in the White House, Republicans must scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how “our children will have to pay for it!” and “you must cut spending to solve the crisis!”

Idaho's longest-serving members of Congress, Rep. Mike Simpson, and Sen. Mike Crapo are in the reliably screaming vanguard.

Seasons greetings Permalink to this item

Aug. 18, 2017 photo, trying out eclipse glasses

A real nip in the morning air the past couple of days, it's about that time again. I was up in the apple tree yesterday, collecting the last of our squirrel-planted tree's sweet little beauties. Looking for the time of the coming equinox, I found it from an unlikely source, the, "True Jersey" brand of Advance Local Media LLC. It'll be 00:50 Saturday morning here on Mountain Daylight Time, so let's enjoy these last three days of summer (three weeks into "meteorological fall" already).

Bonus events: the full moon (every one is special, you know), 3:58 am MDT on Sept. 29, and then an annular solar eclipse across North America on October 14. The "90%" swath is only a little ways south of us, with the best possible scenery in southern Utah (as usual). Can we find those stare-at-the-sun dark glasses from 2017, I wonder?

That NASA page is fun, ending with "More Destinations" above the footer, your choice of Jupiter, Earth, and Mercury (and the rest of the planets in an image slider). The Eyes on the Solar System interactive is enthralling. "You can fast-forward or rewind time" (or run it at any rate you like, if only!), "see the incredible journey of missions like Cassini and Voyager in their entirety, or watch OSIRIS-REx sample the surface of the asteroid Bennu." (Who knew Bennu?)

Screenshot from the 'Eyes on the Solar System'

19.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Little retort Permalink to this item

Idaho's Governor Brad Little gave a stern bark back at the three US Senators (Democrats, of course) who had the temerity to raise some questions about the deal between the University of Idaho and the University of Phoenix. (I'm just getting to it after seeing last week's news in the Tuesday paper.)

Last Wednesday, the President of Brad Little's and my alma mater, Scott Green, had already given a sufficient response to the letter from Sens. Richard Durbin (IL), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Richard Blumenthal (CT), and the governor might have just affirmed Green's response, but instead sent a letter with a big old western "butt out" and "do your own job." Kevin Richert's report for Idaho Education News complained that Green "leaned heavily on a "frequently asked questions" page, as if that were a bad thing? For those of us who hadn't troubled ourselves to read it, apparently including the senators, it got the job done, I thought.

As for the bowl of hand-picked cherry snarks Little provided, let's dispense with "you're so far away," first. It is not, actually "thousands of miles" between Idaho and Illinois, first of all, and since when do we measure opinions by proximity? Montana, Washington, Oregon and Nevada are 0 miles away from Idaho, and they have all legalized recreational marijuana. For example.

Little claims that Idaho has "the strongest economy in the nation," an absurd claim unsupported by fact. Idaho's GDP is about a third of Connecticut's, and less than 6% of those other three states' combined. He could look it up.

Idaho's per capita GDP last year was $43,322, 45th in the nation. Massachusetts's was 77,897 (2nd), Connecticut 69,641 (5th), and Illinois 63,421 (10th among the states). (All numbers in 2012 dollars, per Statista.)

The wind-up of Little's letter was weaker still. "Perhaps you should focus your attention away from Idaho and do your job by passing a responsible federal budget so our government can function properly," he wrote, ignoring the fact that the passing of a responsible federal budget is currently hung up by Republican extremists in the House. He could check in with Idaho's Representatives Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher to learn more about current events.

The lede Permalink to this item

Heather Cox Richardson's Sept. 18 daily has our Zeitgeist in a two-sentence paragraph, my emphasis added:

"Headlines this morning said that “Congress” is in crisis. But that construction obscures the true story: the Republicans are in crisis, and they are taking the country down with them."

House extremists are working to sabotage the "comprehensive compromise" reached in May, when the hapless Kevin McCarthy agreed not to be party to a default on the national debt. (So many things we used to take for granted.)

Two feral apples brought home yesterday

And there's an impeachment in the wind! (No, not Texas' skeevy attorney general, Ken Paxton's; that's already over, other than the FBI investigation and the 8-years old securities fraud indictment.) There's a toothless "inquiry" launched against Joe Biden by Kevin McCarthy, as a sop to Matt Gaetz. HCR:

On the Fox News Channel on Sunday, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) said McCarthy has given him the role of assisting in the inquiry, but admitted: “We don't have the evidence now, but we may find it later."

Everybody's going fishing now, come on a safari with me. Speaking of evidence, you could hardly make this up:

"...ABC News reported that long-time Trump assistant Molly Michael told agents investigating Trump’s mishandling of classified documents that he wrote to-do lists for her on the back of documents with classified markings."

That's right, FPOTUS was using stolen classified documents as scratch paper.

Then the wrap with items from the Biden administration "continu[ing] to go about the daily work of governance," with the UN General Assembly convening in New York, and this interesting tidbit about the $6 billion involved in the prisoner swap with Iran (WaPo link brought inline by me):

"Brett McGurk, the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, told the Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian that the funds had not previously been frozen; they were held up in South Korea because of that country’s own regulations. Under Trump, Iran spent heavily from similar accounts in China, Turkey, and India. Now that they are released, the funds will have more legal restrictions than they did when they were in South Korea."

The funds weren't "frozen," nor were they ours. South Korea bought Iranian oil, and deposited the money in Iranian accounts, which, "under U.S. sanctions regulations [were] legally available for certain forms of bilateral and humanitarian trade." "No funds whatsoever are going into Iran."

18.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Political theater news Permalink to this item

The normalization of abnormality continues. Let's see if I can keep this to one post for the week. (Probably not.)

"There are books that are written on how the election was rigged." "I was listening to... different people, and when I added it all up, the election was rigged."

So that's the former guy's idea of a defense plan. He sincerely believed that the election was rigged, and so a coup d'etat was justified. Kristin Welker, in her Meet the Press interview aired yesterday, points out that FG is under 4 indictments for 91 felony counts, and his pushback?

"If you would say it–properly, I'm facing four Biden indictments, he told the justice department to indict him, or he told Merrick Garland, let's indict him."

These are the bees in his head talking (about himself in the third person). CBS News, the BBC, and CNN all have "simple guides" to the legal cases as of last month. The Beeb has a nice timeline infographic of "Republican campaign dates" and "Trump's court dates" side by side ("Dates proposed by prosecutors and may change"). Two of the four were brought by state prosecutors, in New York, and Georgia. But somehow Biden controls all that, too? The first indictment, in New York, way back in March, was for the dodgy accounting covering up the $130,000 hush money Trump paid to an adult film star to cover up their affair. And so on.

"These are banana republic indictments, these are third-world indictments," DQ Don claimed. Yeah, not actually, but he is certainly a banana republic, third-world autocrat kind of guy.

I see CNN now counts Maggie Haberman as their "Political Analyst" in addition to her day job (?) at the NYT. She notes FG's attempts to "inject himself in mainstream media." Also, tainting the jury pools, of course. And his threat of "retribution" brought up in the Meet the Press interview, I'm reminded of my nickname for him on Twitter, surRealDonaldTrump. "When I talk about retribution, I'm talking about fairness..."

Yeah, the hell you say. "They" are the problem, as ever. "They're dividing the country so badly, and it's very dangerous," he says, projecting himself onto all those he sees as enemies (which is to say everyone who isn't a sycophant to him). As Haberman reminds us, "he has been quite clear that he is looking for payback." The plans he and his advisors have been making aren't ambiguous.

To Trump, "fairness" has exactly one dimension: "I win." (That's why he chose to ignore the many advisors and lawyers of his who told him he lost. "I didn't respect them as lawyers," he said, if they gave him advice he didn't like.

Give him props for a Biden endorsement, though, to settle "the age question": "Some of the greatest world leaders have been in their 80s." They show the poll response to a "phsically fit" question (which favors the blowhard), without getting to the nut of it: which candidates have mental illness or personality defects that should disqualify them from serving as president?

That might be fresh in mind for anyone who saw FG's confused disorientation at the "Pray Vote Stand Summit," captured by the not-mainstream and not news, Newsmax. (ICYMI, clipped by Brian Tyler Cohen.)

Also on the intertube airways, Congressman Jamie Raskin talking to Jen Psaki on MSNBC. He's looking really good, with a nice head of hair again. It included another soundbite from the MTP interview: "What did I do wrong? I didn't do anything wrong."

If only Welker had answered that by saying "let me read the 91 felony counts you've been charged with in the four indictments, sir," but I guess we'll get to that in due time. On the question of pardons (starting with the possibility of him pardoning himself, naturally), Psaki asks Raskin about the specific case Welker brought up with Trump, Enrique Tarrio, and his 22 year prison sentence. If there's anything in it for him, Trump would do it in a heartbeat. Reinstating the Proud Boys as his stand-by Schutzstaffel? No doubt.

"It's predictable, but utterly outrageous and scandalous" for him to signal that he would pardon "people who have been convicted of seditious conspiracy which means conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States."

"America needs to understand, we're just in the middle of this struggle, we're not over it in any sense." "It's a farce that could bring the Republic to its knees."

Judd Legum and co. provide a real fact-check of Trump's appearance on Meet the Press. Starts with the side note that this was Kristen Walker's opening salvo as the new host of MTP. What a way to start! Unfortunately, she started by "spen[ding] minimal time calling out Trump's lies." What aired had her "simply ignor[ing]" most of his false claims, and "making the interview — and by extension, Trump's 2024 candidacy — appear as normal as possible." It is not normal to have a twice-impeached ex-president under 4 indictments with 91 felony counts continuing to spew lies, the apotheosis of Steve Bannon's strategy to "flood the zone with shit."

Popular Information provides a useful list of Trump's top 10 brazen lies. Rather than amplify the false narrative, here are the (top 7 of 10) facts they report:

16.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Super-majority hijinks Permalink to this item

News from Reclaim Idaho is celebrating former Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's endorsement of the open primary initiative, "featured on the front page of nearly every daily newspaper in the entire state." As well as online news outlets: the Idaho Capital Sun, and Idaho Reports, for example. There are 116 ("and counting") Republicans endorsing the initiative now.

At the press conference on Wednesday, Otter singled out the state party chair, Dorothy Moon, and her performance at this year's party meeting. “That was the day I saw our party go downhill,” he said.

"He said in his 36 years of public office, and 25 elections, most of it was pretty cordial. Today, he believes “Idaho deserves better.”

“What I see today is a lot of people running for office that haven’t got the skill to convince people to be on their side, so the only thing they can do is tear them down personally,” Butch Otter said. “The only thing they can do is argue with them. I’m proud to be a part of this.”

His wife fired for effect, too, responding to the central committee changing its rules to exlude the Idaho Young Republicans, Idaho College Republicans and Federation of Republican Women from the state executive committee, calling it “a travesty of epic proportions.”

“The state central committee has proven that the only reason they are in this is to further themselves and put themselves in a position of power,” Lori Otter said. “The young Republicans of this state should be paying attention to what’s happening at our state-level leadership, because your voice is being subverted by their voice.

“Shame on them. Shame on Dorothy Moon.”

The "official" party statement complained about moderate Republicans having supported the "Democrat candidate" in last year's Attorney General race. The far-right Raúl Labrador has been disserving the state since his election, as regular readers here will know.

In other legal news, and speaking of GOP chair Dorothy Moon, 7th Judicial District Judge Darren B. Simpson granted a temporary restraining order against the Idaho Republican Party on Friday afternoon, just hours after the Bingham County Republican Central Committee filed a suit against the party, for its planned interference in the process to elect new officers in the county organization. (She said she just wanted to make sure they did things the right way.)

And in the far north, the quest to install an unqualified Idaho Freedom Foundation lackey as West Bonner School District superintendet has come acropper, with the State Board of Education now saying you know what, we don't even have the legal authority to grant an "emergency certificate" for administrators (even though they did it three times before). Especially not for candidates who don't meet the statutory requirements, one would think. Branden Durst is complaining about the special mistreatment he seems to be getting. Maybe he'll sue. Maybe the Attorney General will get involved!

15.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Exit plan Permalink to this item

Screen shot of Ada County Mapper, cemetery districts layer

With the candidate filing deadline passed for the 2023 elections where we live, I went to look at who all will be on our ballot. It turns out there a bunch of cemetery district board seats up, and... none for us. We're not in a cemetery district, which I think is nice, because it means we're not paying for one. Our county's GIS Mapper app has a layer, that shows the state has a weird crazy quilt of these things.

Turns out, Joplin Cemetery District is literally a stone's throw from our house. (But treat it figuratively; if you come up short, it'll land on a busy street.) Presumably, there's no reason for it, it's just our policy.

14.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Don't make an asterisk out of yourself Permalink to this item

The title came to me after reading McKay Coppins' "exclusive excerpt" from his forthcoming biography of Mitt Romney, a "special preview" of the November edition of The Atlantic, and I was filing away a PDF of it in my clipfile. Under politics, obviously. Politics\trump, because there is no politics\Romney, and politics\election2012 is too far gone.

What Mitt Romney Saw in the Senate is a depressing, riveting read, explaining much of what we already know, with enough inside baseball to assure us that it's even worse than it appears. If anything came out of Romney's 42 item list (and "still growing") "of all the things he wanted to accomplish in the Senate," it isn't mentioned.

"He joked to friends that the Senate was best understood as a “club for old men.” There were free meals, on-site barbers, and doctors within a hundred feet at all times. But there was an edge to the observation: The average age in the Senate was 63 years old. Several members, Romney included, were in their 70s or even 80s. And he sensed that many of his colleagues attached an enormous psychic currency to their position—that they would do almost anything to keep it."

Romney came in, and will go out, rich as Croesus, and unlike so many of his colleagues, can apparently imagine a life after the Senate, and is interested in getting a decade or so of it. And because he's so good at giving advice, he's also suggesting that both Joe Biden, and the twice-impeached, four times indicted, and we'll have to see how many times convicted former guy are too old to be president, and they should quit, too. Meanwhile, as Qasim Rashid points out,

1. We already knew all this. Him affirming it makes zero difference.
2. He's still in power. He can vote w/Dems & pass BBB, child tax credit, abolish filibuster, etc—but won't.
Talk is cheap. Let's see action for justice.

Jay Kuo provides the Cliff Notes version, without a paywall. Mitt Romney Calls It Quits. And His Burn Book Is Something Else. Starting with On his fellow party members:

“A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

Other than that, Everything Is Fine. Take it from Dick Cheney! He put out this cogent assessment, shared on the bird X-site (but helpfully embedded by 2paragraphs):

“In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.”

13.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Omnishambles tantrum Permalink to this item

The right-wing, anti-government extremists in the House of Representatives have us careening toward yet another legislative failure, government shutdown, and multifaceted disaster. Heather Cox Richardson found the word of the day, coined in 2009 by the writers of the BBC political satire The Thick of It, meaning “a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.”

Which is both a perfect fit, and too jocular to capture the present moment, just over two weeks from the new fiscal year, and the lunatics staking claim to running the asylum. Matt Gaetz on his hind legs, threatening to depose the Speaker, after which... ?!

Hey, but if only Kevin McCarthy will lead the charge to impeach Joe Biden they might let some part of the normal process of governance continue. An impeachment "inquiry," with no evidence of wrongdoing, that will be an interesting dog and pony show. From Comer's promised "bombshells" that never caught fire, to, ah, "serious and credible allegations" that "warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives."

James Comer, "Gym" Jordan, and Jason Smith (chair of Ways and Means, what?) will turn up the heat in their dogged search for anything meaningful. Damn, if only Jordan had been that dogged at Ohio State, you know? As Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries put it, the "inquiry" promises to be "a kangaroo court, fishing expedition and conspiracy theater rolled into one."

Speaking of theater, I noticed how much Matt Gaetz is starting to look like Richard Nixon, as his jowls are setting in. Here he is yesterday, next to Congressman Nixon ("THE MAN WHO BROKE THE HISS CASE!!"), running for the Senate in 1950, pre-jowly.

House video, and a 1950 campaign poster

But more seriously, this, from HCR (my link added):

"The attack on Biden is a transparent attempt to defend former president Trump from his own legal troubles by suggesting that Biden is just as bad. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin today also defended Trump, saying that his prosecutions show that the United States is fundamentally corrupt. His comment made former representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) seem to wash her hands of the modern incarnation of her political party. “Putin has now officially endorsed the Putin-wing of the Republican Party,” she [tweeted]. “Putin Republicans & their enablers will end up on the ash heap of history. Patriotic Americans in both parties who believe in the values of liberal democracy will make sure of it.”

"Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) summed up the day: “So let me get this straight: Republicans are threatening to remove their own Speaker, impeach the President, and shut down the government on September 30th—disrupting everyday people’s paychecks and general public operations. For what? I don’t think even they know.”

They just want to break something.

12.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Building a new way Permalink to this item

There was a magazine in the check-out line at the grocery store yesterday, photos of John, Paul, George and Ringo on the cover from back in the day. 1969. Time has stood still for The Beatles for more than half a century now. The other day, a passing car with a personalized plate NOWHERE had me break out into Nowhere Man like I was a 10 year old boy, riding my bike home. Two minutes 44 seconds of brilliantly produced, plaintive self-reflection in precious harmony, out of five hours after a night out, a song out of the nexus of night and daybreak, now echoing in this old man's brain, decades later.

What a long, strange trip it's been. Heather Cox Richardson's letter dated Sept. 11, 2023 brought that back to mind with its recapitulation of the last half century threaded through current events. We've reached a "comprehensive strategic partnership" with Vietnam, affirmed by our president visiting Hanoi, just after he and our vice president were making the rounds of geopolitical meetups. ASEAN, BRICS, AUKUS, a three-way with Japan and South Korea last month, continuing engagement with China (as it's "facing the twin problems of a faltering economy and negative population growth"), and this older echo of colonialism:

Like Biden, Vietnam’s leader Vo Van Thuong welcomed “an enduring, stable long-term framework that opens up a vast space for further development of the bond between us for decades to follow.” But he did note in his remarks at a state luncheon at the presidential palace that President Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War, had asked President Harry Truman for just such a relationship only months after Vietnam gained its independence from France in 1945. “As history would have it, this desire had to confront countless turmoil and challenges,” he said, “all of such we have overcome…. From former enemies to Comprehensive Strategic Partners, this is truly a model in the history of international relations as to how reconciliation and relationship-building should proceed after a war.”

Also, in the "never forget" bucket, yesterday was "the 50th anniversary of the military coup in Chile that overthrew the democratically elected government of leftist President Salvador Allende, a coup aided by the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency under President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger. Our “fullest commitment to supporting democracy and upholding human rights” has always had a train of footnotes.

Commemorating the 22d anniversary of "our" 9/11, Biden called for national unity to honor the nearly 3,000 people lost that day, urging people to remember “what we can do together. To remember what was destroyed, what can we repair, what was threatened, what we fortified, what was attacked—an indomitable American spirit prevailed over all of it.”

"National unity" has never seemed more elusive to me than it does now, but then memory is mutable, and biased to the present. Saturday evening, we went to a reading of "Walking Steven Home," a verbatim theatre work curated by Gregory Hinton, and presented in the Lincoln Auditorium in Idaho's Capitol. The weight of horror and grief in the story was amplified by Steven's family members in the audience, listening to their words again, 7 years after Steven's murder. [Update: I see Gemma Gaudette spoke with Hinton on Boise State Public Radio's "Idaho Matters" program last week.]

Trans Rights - are - Human Rights

The next morning, Sunday, Jeanette and I rode our tandem down to Cecil D. Andrus park for an early interfaith worship service before the Pride parade. We walked in the parade in the middle of the half a dozen or so church groups, after a long wait to get things going. The floats and bikes and walking groups marshalled much longer than the 8 block parade route, maybe twice as long as that? Everyone was happy to be there, including the spectators lining the route with equal or greater enthusiasm than the parade itself, on a perfect, late summer morning.

There was no shortage of sponsors—and funding—this year, never mind last year's manufactured outrage from the far right. This year's wan, anti-woke screed from Dot Moon, former back-bench legislator and current Idaho Republican Party chair is just sad. The party, she said, "continues to oppose the ongoing sexualization of our children," other than, you know, staying in your lane. They're all in for the "eternal truth" "that men are men, women are women, and there is no in between."

"We cannot cower before the woke mob. We cannot allow the threat of frivolous lawsuits to stand in the way of speaking the truth. We cannot compromise with a culture that is deliberately warping the minds of young children. Republicans must be bold in proclaiming our moral values and protecting childhood innocence."

I guess she wouldn't have enjoyed the parade. Isn't it a pity. (That song goes back to 1966 too, I see.)

Looking for news about this year's Boise PrideFest (its 35th!), there doesn't seem to be much in the local media. No news is good news. A good time was had by all who attended. Perhaps the prosecutions of hundreds and hundreds of extremists after Jan. 6, 2021, and now the ringleader himself is having a beneficial effect.

The thought I had in the middle of the festive marching around downtown, riding the waves of mutual celebration flowing back and forth with the spectators, was a rainbow-hued epiphany of optimism: love could win after all. May it be so.

In the Boise Pride parade, 2023

8.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Just need to make it official Permalink to this item

This morning, in Public Notice: The surprisingly strong constitutional case for Trump's disqualification. "The 14th Amendment is quite clear that insurrectionists can't hold office." It's time to honor its sesquicentennial, by demonstrating a capacity to learn from our mistakes, and not wait for another full-on, bloody, 4-year war. January 6, 2021 was signal enough, even before the biggest loser went off script and turned "the demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol [and] defiled the seat of American democracy" became victims, and then "patriots," before the promises of pardons for them, and then moving on to "I am your retribution," and promises to jail his opposition.

H/t to Aaron Rupar for the link to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, with the broad outline of what we all saw happen (in 8 bullet points), and CREW's full report, published in July.

"[C]ourts have disqualified individuals under Section 3 [of the 14th Amendment] who played far less substantial roles in insurrections than Trump. Couy Griffin, a former New Mexico county commissioner who was a grassroots mobilizer for a “battle” to stop the certification process and a member of Trump’s mob on January 6th, was disqualified after CREW successfully represented New Mexico residents in a lawsuit to enforce his constitutional disqualification."

And the punch line, last paragraph of the last page:

"Donald Trump is neither above the law, nor is he above democracy. Overwhelming evidence establishes that President Trump was the central cause of and a participant in the insurrection. Because of that, Trump is disqualified from holding any public office, including the Office of the President, under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

7.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Out of his league Permalink to this item

A nice touch in Fulton Co. DA Fani Willis' letter to the overstuffed chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, given that "the safety of persons serving in the criminal justice system should be a primary concern of yours":

"As it seems you have a personal interest in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, you should consider directing the USDOJ to investigate the racist threats that have come to my staff and me because of this investigation. For your information, I am attaching ten examples of threats this office has received. See Exhibits F through O."

That was after she observed that his "Attempt to Interfere with and Obstruct[] This Office’s Prosecution of State Criminal Cases is Unconstitutional," and offered some voluntary responses to his letter to her, including "an explanation of the basic obligations of a prosecutor."

"Your letter makes clear that you lack a basic understanding of the law, its practice, and the ethical obligations of attorneys generally and prosecutors specifically."

5.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

I'll see your Wall and raze you one Permalink to this item

So of course I had to load up some WaPo articles, and who could resist Workers seeking shortcut carve hole in China’s Great Wall? I could not, at least. The lead photo, of "a section of the Great Wall of China," by Jonathan Newton does a nice job of illustrating the fixer-upper nature of much of the Wall in question. At the very end of the story, we read that

"Some 30 percent of the stone fortifications, which run thousands of miles, is crumbling into ruin, according to National Geographic" [in a 2018 article].

The author also quotes UNESCO (accurately, I see) that the Great Wall is "the only work built by human hands on this planet that can be seen from the moon," which, really? No, not really. Somebody should tell UNESCO to have a look at this 21 year old Snopes article. Or this 15½ year old article from Scientific American.

The WaPo story didn't have the money shot, in any case. NPR has the Youyu County Public Security Bureau photo, with no paywall, and no "seen from the moon" nonsense.

Youyu County Public Security Bureau image

Amazon Newsstand Team signs off WaPo Permalink to this item

In the backyard this morning

They've been warning this was coming, but the synergy between the Washington Post and Amazon (both still owned/controlled by Jeff Bezos, right?) is being dismantled. "Final" notice this morning, inadvertenly disguised as spam.

Cancellation Notification of your Kindle Newsstand Subscription(s) is the headline, leaving me wondering Kindle? What Kindle? As it happens, I do have an ancient e-reader that was called a Kindle, gray display, clunky, never caught fire in my world as a way I wanted to read. But this is not about that. It's about the Newstand, and the Washington Post Digital Access subscription I've been enjoying being vaporized by it being "closed."

It says I "may still access all past editions that have not been delivered to [me] by visiting [my] Kindle library," which I'd forgotten I had. (Taking the jump, I see there's one book in it. Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals and I'm still sorry I didn't just buy an actual copy of the book.

They also tell me I "can also read a selection of popular magazines and newspapers with a membership to Kindle Unlimited," which, has a bunch of "Kindle Editions" of some, and the "Washington Post Classic" app. (Not a subscription to the content?! Hard to say. But I don't want an app I want digital access.)

Here's the jump to the same "All-Access," unlimited digital access we've been enjoying via Kindle Newstand, for the same price half the same price for one year, then the same price. Crazy. At least the fullfillment process went smoothly (AFAICT). Top of the WaPo page is a ranking of "the most educated states in America," with a color-coded map, titled "These Are The Smartest States In America," with Idaho colored not smart. (But hey, at least we're not Mississippi. Or Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Nevada. How did Nevada get in with the reddest of the red, I wonder?)

Not so smart, this isn't WaPo content, it's on something called "Vacation 1st," and the story said it was originally published almost a year ago on their "sister" site, Investing 1st." (Contrary to the color coding, Arkansas is in last place, huh, "because of the agriculture industry.") Nevada (#45) is there because it doesn't have as many higher education facilities on offer as some states," but "the best colleges in the state can be quite affordable if you're local."

It's an execrably written listicle, which didn't stop me from looking up Idaho, naturally, at #40, to see it "has a mixture of colleges that rank and cost in quite varying ways." You don't say.

Will we lose our democracy? (continued) Permalink to this item

Extremist, racist Republican legislators and the Republican governor in Alabama defied the U.S. Supreme Court in their quest to extend racial gerrymandering. Gov. Kay Ivy justified the lawlessness breezily: “The Legislature knows our state, our people and our districts better than the federal courts or activist groups.”

Now a federal court has blocked the implementation of Alabama’s latest congressional map, expressing its incredulity about "the extraordinary circumstance we face," after the state's leaders "did not even nurture the ambition to provide the required remedy."

Democracy Docket's related links detail more about the red state rebellion, nurturing wholly different goals than law, order, and democracy. (Links in the original.)

Related news, from Jay Kuo: Wisconsin Politics Are A Hot Mess. And That Affects Us All. "The road to the White House runs through Wisconsin," these days. And, "if history is any guide, the GOP in Wisconsin will attempt to undo the actual will of the voters at every turn."

3.Sept.2023 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Cowardice Permalink to this item

That word came to my attention in a week-old video podcast I'll get to in a moment, but on the way to it, I searched my email, and one of the results was in the January 6, 2021 Letter from an American by Heather Cox Richardson, a quote from from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, "who laid the blame for today’s attack squarely at the feet of Trump himself:"

“Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, and effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump. His use of the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”

Puncturevine fruit, Sept. 2

In the two and a half years since, the poison has spread throughout most of what's left of the Republican Party. There is strength in numbers, seems to be the thinking, and when so many people agree with us, we can't be blamed? 75% of the presidential field in the recent debate raised their hands as members of the cult of personality, and to hell with "respect for fellow citizens," the rule of law, and any aspiration of justice. They are now the Retribution Party, unable to quit their hijacker.

On the Warning podcast with Steve Schmidt: Ken Burns on (how and) why the Republican Party completely changed

Schmidt said "every single person I've ever known and ever worked with [has] abaondoned everything that they said they believed in and they got in line as fast as any group of people anywhere in the world have ever gotten in line behind something they knew to be wrong for their convenience..."

Schmidt and Burns both spoke of cowardice in confronting what is obviously wrong, "motivated by political expediency and that means power and holding on to it and not upholding [their oaths]."

As we listened to the description of our precarious moment of the nation's existential crisis, Jeanette observed that Zoroaster said that the ultimate evil is short-sightedness. She's studied it more than I have, and confirmation didn't pop out at me from the current Wikipedia article, but the short list of core teachings bears repeating in its contrast to the Republican Zeitgeist:

Thom Hartmann's history lesson (going back to Andrew Jackson, and the spoils system), and description of the "Project 2025" plan to dismantle the American government outlines the stakes. "The merger of billionaire wealth with Republican governance—the public be damned—threaten the integrity and future of the American experiment."


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007