Home Blog

Texas senator's big 'gotcha' moment in DOJ confirmation hearing made him a laughingstock

0

President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. assistant attorney general began going through the very partisan vetting process of a Senate committee hearing Wednesday. Kristen Clarke will become the first woman of color to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in its 46-year existence. It’s an important position, highlighted by the recent national reporting on the continuing epidemic of Black citizen deaths at the hands of our country’s law enforcement apparatus. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) has lauded the nomination, saying that “Ms. Clarke is precisely the person to restore the original spirit of the Civil Rights Division. She has dedicated her entire career to the enforcement and expansion of civil rights. Her extensive record of civil rights advocacy and enforcement, as well as her deep commitment to justice and professional integrity, makes us confident in her ability to excel as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.”

The right wing of the country, having very little to offer but fear when it comes to race and civil rights discourse, has decided that the best way to attack Kristen Clarke’s nomination is to create the impression that she “hates white people.” It’s the old reverse racism argument used by racists, while they stare into the mirror with horror and fear of retribution for their sins. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, famous for voting against all of the things he tells the electorate he secretly didn’t want to vote for, seems to have been under the impression that he had a real gotcha question and piece of evidence to unveil during the committee hearing. He didn’t. And he looked as pathetic as you might expect.

Sen. Cornyn began by passive aggressively saying, “Well maybe there’s a misprint, but I’m sure you can clear it up for me,” before bringing out evidence that when she was a young student at Harvard, she “argued that African Americans were genetically superior to ah [sic] Caucasians. is that correct?” (I left in the “ah,” because John Cornyn put it in there.) Without knowing what John Cornyn is talking about I can very confidently say that no, that is not correct. But let’s watch Ms. Clarke try not to laugh out loud while giving a serious answer to a clown of a senator.

x

How people don’t just say “What the f!@#$ are you talking about?” all day long to people like Sen. John Cornyn is beyond me. You can read the article in question, written as a letter to The Harvard Crimson editors. Even if you are a slow reader, the “letter” takes only a couple of minutes to read. Sen. Cornyn and his staff are either too lazy (catastrophically incompetent in their laziness in this case) or they have decided to pretend it isn’t very clearly a baroquely pseudoscientific attack on the unbelievably pseudoscientific dreck written in Murray’s The Bell Curve. In fact, after reading the scientific bullet points laying out why Black people are superior to everyone according to the shiftless criteria of The Bell Curve, Clarke wrote this in her op-ed’s summation.

Attacks on Black people such as those in The Bell Curve are not unique. Black children face this abuse daily through television shows, jokes aired on the radio, textbooks with truncated history, etc. Liberal whites underestimate the damage which racism causes on the minds of Black children, and conservative whites know all too well how to enlarge that damage. No matter how rich or supportive a Black person’s home might be, by the time she is ready to take the SAT or apply to college, she has struggled far more extensively than any white person of the same social and economic background.

In the video it is clear that the hot air really evaporated from Cornyn’s sails. But later on Sen. Cornyn, forever disappointing the Founding Fathers who probably hoped for at least a particle of intelligence from elected leadership, defended his dead-end questioning on social media.

x

What-about? The problem with Brett Kavanaugh’s pre-professional career was that it is marked with credible accusations of multiple sexual assaults and inappropriate behavior, none of it considered “satire” by anyone, and never has anyone claimed Kavanaugh’s actions to be “satire.” This is not an apple-and-oranges comparison: It is an apples-and-alleged alcoholic sexual assaulter comparison.

The GOP just handed Liz Cheney a megaphone

0

Finally.It took a strong woman and a House Republican conference that threatened her. It took GOP leadership more interested in regaining power than in abiding by the Constitution. And it took a Republican Party devoted to nothing other than Donald Trump.So finally, Liz Cheney did it. It was clear she was going to be voted out of leadership, so she broke with her fellow leaders. She did it loudly and purposefully, saying the quiet part out loud, taking on the former guy directly inside the room with his defenders.”We cannot let the former President drag us backward and make us complicit in his efforts to unravel our democracy. Down that path lies our destruction, and potentially the destruction of our country,” she told them.She was booed by some of her colleagues, according to a source in the room.

What Cheney did was nothing short of definitional — both in terms of history and of the Republican Party, or what’s left of it. She drew a neon line in the sand, calling for the truth about the 2020 election and saying that a party that calls itself conservative and doesn’t accept that truth is, well, not legitimate. In fact, it’s a fraud.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” Newsletter.“close Email Capture Inline Zone”

Leadership fights are almost always parochial. And House Republicans at first saw it that way. One told me, “We’re just tired of it. Sometimes your friends are too brave for their own good. You don’t have to prove you’re right every time.”In other words, Cheney had the temerity to challenge Leader Kevin McCarthy, and speak ill of Trump, so off with her head.But in trying to curtail Cheney’s ascent as a leader within the party, they handed her a bigger megaphone. She’s not just a House GOP someone, she’s now a national leader — with national exposure. And so Cheney is now a national story.There’s a possibility that all of this could boomerang against Republicans, but it’s hard to say now. After all, most people don’t care about leadership fights, and they don’t vote on them. But Cheney isn’t giving up, and the louder Trump and his minions become, the louder she and other like-minded conservatives will become. No doubt Democrats will use her words against Republicans to try to urge those who don’t believe the election was rigged to join forces. Sixty-nine percent of independents believe Joe Biden was freely and fairly elected. Just sayin’.Of course, House Republicans were against Cheney, and 70% of Republicans believe Trump was robbed. In fact, just after Cheney lost her leadership post, some House Republicans were in a hearing with two men who had been involved in trying to curtail the US Capitol riot. Rep. Paul Gosar, for instance, made it clear that he believes the Justice Department is harassing “peaceful patriots” across the country who forced their way into the Capitol on January 6, as if they were a bunch of tourists on a stroll.”Propaganda and lies are being used to unleash the national security state against law-abiding US citizens,” Gosar said.Trump would love it. Maybe he’ll send an email out about it.It’s been a long day for McCarthy, who also had to go to a leadership meeting at the White House. He did his best to try to talk policy after that session, but that Cheney issue came up again.

He rejected the notion that anyone in his conference was questioning the results of the election. (Note to self: Then why is Cheney’s successor in leadership likely to be Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has continuously objected to the 2020 results? And why did McCarthy himself object to the Arizona and Pennsylvania counts?)Oh, well. McCarthy was happy to talk infrastructure and about his commitment not to repeal the 2017 Trump tax bill. In fact, he seemed extra happy to be back on message terra firma.The purge of Cheney may be over, but the story isn’t. Her words, succinct and direct, will be a big part of the political echo chamber to come.”I will do everything I can to ensure that the former President never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” she said in front of the TV cameras. “You can see the danger that he continues to provoke with his language. We have seen his lack of commitment and dedication to the Constitution.”It’s going to be a political civil war, sure. But it’s going to be fought, and rightly so, with the fervor of a religious crusade. In those battles, those who worship false idols tend to lose.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/12/politics/cheney-gop-megaphone/index.html

Our 2021 nova suddenly brightens, now visible to the naked eye

0

Just a quick update — some happy, some sad.

Back on March 21 I pointed out that there was a nova (called Nova Cas 2021, or V1405 Cas) in the constellation Cassiopeia that was brightening but hadn’t yet done so enough to be visible to the naked eye.  It rose to magnitude +7.5 or so, and then slowly declined to magnitude +8 by early April.  It looked like that would be the end of the story.   

But to everyone’s surprise, starting around May 4, it suddenly began to brighten rapidly, and at last check on May 9 it had reached magnitude +5.5, visible to the naked eye!   

bright02.JPG

In fact, here it is brightening from just May 5 to May 8 — the difference is quite apparent:

bright01.JPG
Nova Cas 2021 brightens from May 5 (left) to May 8 (right).  Compare it to the maginitude +6.6 star called HIP 115691 to its immediate lower left.  Open cluster M52 appears at the top center.

The last time we had a nova that was this bright in the Northern Hemisphere was in 2015, when V5668 Sagittarii appeared.  

bright03.JPG
V5668 Sagittarii captured from the Indian Himalayas before dawn on March 21, 2015.  Look for the arrow above the trees near the center of the photo

If you do happen to spot Nova Cas 2021, glide your eyes up toward the zenith just a skosh, and you may catch Messier 52 (M52) — an open cluster of apparent magnitude between +5 and +7, and lying between 3,000 and 7,000 light-years away, depending on who you ask — that will look like a little smudge, maybe visible with the naked eye but easily so with binoculars:

bright04.jpg

A closer look at M52 (first noted by Charles Messier on September 7, 1774):

bright05.jpg
Messier 52

Will Nova Cas 2021 keep brightening?  It’s certainly on the upswing, so let’s hope it keeps going!

— — — — — — — — 

If you’ve read my diaries or comments over the last few years, you’ll know that my mother, The Educator, has always been an inspiration to me for discovery, for taking care of all kinds of creatures, and for having the gumption to do things people say you can’t do.  I’m sorry to say that she passed away a couple of weeks ago.  That’s why I’ve not been here much recently.  My family, as well as her many students over the years, miss her terribly.  But all the positive ways she influenced us?  Thankfully, we get to keep that.  The best way I can honor her is to keep learning, and to try to keep inspiring others to do the same.  Nova Cas 2021 brightening all of a sudden just a coincidence?  Well………

FAA cracks down with hefty fines on passengers who refuse to wear masks on commercial flights

0

Since the beginning of 2021 there has been an alarming uptick in incidents involving unruly passengers on commercial air flights. In a Jan.13 statement (which can be viewed here on YouTube) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steven Dickson cited two specific causes of this phenomenon: the obstinate refusal by some air passengers to wear masks in flight, and obnoxious and disruptive behavior spawned or inspired by the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In the statement, Dickson announced that the problem had become so acute that FAA would be implementing a “zero tolerance” policy in handling such passengers, going forward. Those who decide to demonstrate their contempt for the health and safety of others by refusing to wear masks or otherwise disrupt the activities of flight crews on commercial planes would now face hefty fines of up to $35,000, and possibly imprisonment. In April, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reiterated its policy requiring that air travel passengers wear masks during flights and at airports, and extended the requirement through mid-September.

As reported by Neil Vigdor for the New York Times, it’s become apparent over the past few months that some people still haven’t gotten the message.

Four people are facing nearly $70,000 in civil fines for clashing with airline crews over mask requirements and other safety instructions on recent flights, part of what the Federal Aviation Administration called a “disturbing increase” in the number of unruly passengers who have returned to the skies with the easing of pandemic restrictions.

Even after implementing “zero tolerance,” the FAA has received over 1,300 reports from airlines about unruly passengers, a number roughly equivalent to the number of persons who had enforcement actions taken against them over the entire previous decade.

Vigdor cites several examples, including one woman throwing an empty liquor bottle at a flight attendant and striking one of them to emphasize her displeasure, resulting in the plane returning to its point of origin in the Dominican Republic. That incident prompted the FAA to recommend a fine of $32,500.

The single common thread for most of these incidents has been the requirement of wearing a mask in flight.

As part of the latest round of fines recommended by the F.A.A., the agency said that a male passenger aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Sacramento on Jan. 26 refused to comply with a flight attendant’s instructions to wear a mask over his nose and mouth. The man became combative and used offensive language when a second flight attendant told him he was required to wear a mask, according to the F.A.A., which said that the passenger hit one of the flight attendants with his bags when he was ordered to leave the plane. Officials recommended a $16,500 fine for the man.

In addition to these fines as imposed by the FAA, the major airlines have also instituted “no-fly” lists as a means of dealing with such people. As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Delta Air Lines appears to lead all U.S. carriers by putting on its internal no-fly list about 1,200 passengers who refused to wear a mask or became unruly on a plane. It is followed by Frontier Airlines with more than 830, United Airlines with about 750 and Alaska Airlines with 542. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines declined to disclose how many passengers they have banned.

In the wake of the latest high-profile example of this behavior, in which Republican Alaska state senator Lora Reinbold was suspended from flying on Air Alaska for refusing to comply with that airline’s mask policy, Sara Nelson, the president of the Flight Attendant’s Association authored an opinion piece, published on NBCnews.com:

It’s a disappointing and all-too-predictable symptom of how the previous administration made the pandemic response a matter of politics, relatively than mobilizing the general public in shared purpose to take on the biggest disaster relief effort needed in over 100 years. […]

Flight attendants will never tell you that “putting on the oxygen mask is a matter of personal choice.”  We understand that clear air turbulence can really throw you up against the ceiling without warning, so we’re not saying, “Some people think seat belts won’t keep you safe, so it’s up to you to decide. wear one.”

While the names of these offenders are usually not provided, it’s clear that they all exhibit the same sense of personal entitlement that prompt so many to obstinately refuse to wear masks in less stringently regulated private settings such as grocery stores and restaurants. They seem to be under the impression that air travel offers a similar opportunity for them to publicly advertise their disregard of the COVID-19 pandemic, the same blithe disregard that was cultivated and encouraged for nearly a year by Donald Trump.

So now that they’re finding themselves stuck with exorbitant fines or even imprisoned for these antics, perhaps they should ask him to bail them out.

Nobody Wants to Work Anymore (For A Crappy Boss)

0

The onslaught of news accounts purporting to blame workers for not rushing back to their former jobs continues.

This is a classic example of framing a complex issue to fit a right wing narrative. It’s a propaganda campaign to undermine a shift in public opinion about the role of government in an almost post-pandemic world.

The Big Picture here is that a year of lockdowns and other public health measures have changed the attitudes of a significant portion of the population.

A Democratic administration has stepped into this change by offering up a slate of bold and mostly progressive proposals, reversing the outflow of wealth from the bottom 90% of the population, along with recreating portions of a social safety net.

And here’s the thing: People LIKE these ideas.

https://twitter.com/MonmouthPoll/status/1386711884112535554?s=20

A disappointing (to economists, anyway) jobs report for April has led to a right wing push to curb pandemic benefits; governors in several states have already announced cuts in unemployment benefits.

There has also been a spate of media accounts about businesses struggling to find workers, generally focused on restaurant employers saying disparaging things about the people they should be wooing.

This may seem counterintuitive until you realize that way too many of these bosses never looked at their employees as human beings in the first place. Why else would an employer think they could get away with poverty wages, no benefits, and crappy working conditions?

What’s really going on is a fundamental shift in the way people look at jobs and families. Two thirds of those who lost their jobs over the past year don’t know if they want to return to the same-old same-old.

From the Washington Post 

  • But another way to look at this is there is a great reassessment going on in the U.S. economy. It’s happening on a lot of different levels. At the most basic level, people are still hesitant to return to work until they are fully vaccinated and their children are back in school and day care full time. For example, all the job gains in April went to men. The number of women employed or looking for work fell by 64,000, a reminder that child-care issues are still in play.
  • There is also growing evidence — both anecdotal and in surveys — that a lot of people want to do something different with their lives than they did before the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are reassessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination.
  • A Pew Research Center survey this year found that 66 percent of the unemployed had “seriously considered” changing their field of work, a far greater percentage than during the Great Recession. People who used to work in restaurants or travel are finding higher-paying jobs in warehouses or real estate, for example. Or they want a job that is more stable and less likely to be exposed to the coronavirus — or any other deadly virus down the road. Consider that grocery stores shed over 49,000 workers in April and nursing care facilities lost nearly 20,000.

“We’re literally watching the largest labor movement in modern American history happen in the form of paper signs taped to the windows of fast-food and fast-casual restaurants”–Devita Davidson, Director at Detroit Food Lab

Way too many of the news stories, like this one at San Diego’s KUSI, interview employers who repeat the right wing mantra “People don’t want to work.”

The industry publication Plateline did a deep dive into why people aren’t coming back to work in restaurants that included actually interviewing some of those people:

  • For every well-meaning owner who set up a GoFundMe and connected their team with resources, there are many more who ceased communication after March 16. “Restaurants that laid people off right at the beginning of the pandemic are now ramping up hiring and not realizing that people don’t want to be abandoned again,” said Chef Eric Rivera in a recent Twitter thread.
  • Another group that’s sitting out in significant numbers: women. Alexandra Cherniavsky, a sommelier in Philadelphia, is a new mom. When deciding when to return to work, she discovered an issue women have navigated for ages: “The childcare currently available isn’t compatible with restaurant hours,” she says.
  • The pandemic has forced 2.3 million women out of the workforce, according to the National Women’s Law Center, and recent data from Moody’s Analytics shows that mothers of young children lag far behind the rest of the population in returning. “I miss restaurants like crazy, but they don’t seem like safe or supportive places right now,” says Cherniavasky. “Plus, I’m hearing too many stories about nasty, entitled guests to want to be away from my baby and deal with that.”
  • In fact, a recent survey from One Fair Wage shows that 39 percent of restaurant professionals are planning on leaving the industry over “concerns of hostility and harassment from customers.” But the number one reason? Seventy-six percent of survey respondents plan on abandoning hospitality because of low pay.

As somebody who worked at every level in hospitality during my working years, all I can say is ‘It’s About Time.’

***

Mostly reposted from my daily essay at WordsAndDeedsBlog.com.

Trainer says Kentucky Derby winner who tested positive for drug is victim of 'cancel culture'

0

So the winner of the Kentucky Derby is a “junky” now, according to our clammy, languorous yam-in-exile. (I won’t link to the “statement,” but trust me; the actual ex-president of the United States used his new “cutting-edge” internet platform to ascribe antiquated notions of moral failing to a fucking horse.) 

Medina Spirit, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby on May 1, just tested positive for a banned substance, prompting needlessly overworked-horse world to cast a jaundiced eye toward his trainer, Bob Baffert.

The controversy prompted Churchill Downs to indefinitely suspend Baffert and issue this statement: “Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it.”

So you were caught drugging your horse. What to do? What to do? Oh, I know! Blame liberal “cancel culture”!

Ladies and germs, I give you the comedy stylings of Mr. Bob Baffert:

x

FOX NEWS’ BILL HEMMER: “So the Preakness goes down this weekend, the Belmont is here in New York four weeks from now. I don’t know if we’ll have a final result even before the Belmont is done, but your plan is to race in the Preakness. Is there a chance they may punt and not allow Medina Spirit to run this weekend?”

BAFFERT: “Well, I haven’t heard anything officially; they haven’t told me anything. I know Churchill Downs came out with that statement that was pretty harsh, and I think they had … you know, with all the noise going out, we live in a different world now. This America’s different, and it was like a cancel culture kind of a thing, so they’re reviewing it. I haven’t been told anything. We’re prepared to run.”

You’d think a guy like Baffert would know a hulking mound of horse shit when he sees it. Good God, what won’t they blame on so-called cancel culture?

Now, I have no idea whether Baffert is guilty or not. (He says not.) But come up with a better excuse, dude. Objecting to excessive horse drugging is not “cancel culture.” It’s about enforcing rules. And, to my mind anyway, it seems pretty clear that people who shout “cancel culture!” the loudest are the most likely to be guilty (see also: Matt Gaetz). And, it turns out, Baffert has been hit with horse-drugging allegations before

How is it that our side ever got saddled with the slanderous “snowflake” label? Right-wingers (to be fair, I have no idea what Baffert’s political beliefs are, but if he’s appearing on Fox News to whine about cancel culture, I have to assume he’s at least MAGA-adjacent) are the whiniest, chirpiest little baby birds on the planet.

And Fox News, a longtime conservative disinfo haven, sharts this victimhood shtick out to its baby bird audience on the regular.

Suck it up, Bob. Take some personal responsibility. Then again, I suppose it’s much easier to shout tired platitudes to an audience that eats them up like Fiddle Faddle.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

What is your favorite song that tells a story? Any genre or year works.

0

As I have stated before, I used to be in love with Harry Chapin.. a legend with too many hits to name (NOTE: By hits I mean great songs), who passed too soon. Here is a story of his passing at the age of 38.

The good thing about stories in songs is that they can be of any genre, country, rap, rock, etc. They can be long (Alice’s Restaurant, anyone?) or short.

But for me no one could tell a song like the late, great Harry Chapin. Many are familiar with Cats in the Cradle, a great song that tells a story of family love stated and unstated, but my favorite song of his that actually tells a story is broken down into two songs: Taxi and Sequel.

If you have never heard Sequel, the follow-up to Taxi, please please watch the video below.

Even now, after hearing the song as many times as I have, I still hang on every word. His voice and just feelings that he gives off make this combo a must hear.

What about you? Need a jump start on the topic? Here is a list of some great songs that tell a story.

Before I close, though…

Winning An Election With No Evidence Of Having Won Is Called Losing An Election.

0

Dear Kevin McCarthy, members of the Sedition Caucus and sorry remnants of the Republican party. Congratulations on your Big Victory! Few would’ve expected someone with as abysmal a record as Donald Trump’s would win re-election, so you must be awfully proud! Perhaps next time you’ll remember to obtain some sort of evidence of actually having won — a majority of votes, electoral college points, stuff like that — because as every single one of you very well know, winning an election without any proof of having won is called “losing an election” and has been since the very earliest days of civilization. If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to start your own brand new civilization, because let’s face it, this one no longer seems like a good fit. And seriously, with leaders like Donald Trump, JFK Jr. and the mysterious “Q,” how could you possibly go wrong? We’ll have a chat with the Russians and see if  they can set you up with something nice up in their Very Exclusive northern regions. Although some of your fellow countrymen may look askance, the rest of us are breathing a HUGE sigh of relief to see you and Russia have become such close friends. Guess you and the “Evil Empire” had more in common than you thought! Well, that’s all for now, we have literally a whole world of stuff we need to attend to and you’ve probably got a big Victory Bash planned so,

Cheerio, Auf Wiedersehen, Sayonara, Ciao etc. Sincerely,

The People of the United States and All the Other Nations In The World

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
My idea of a great quote is something that doesn’t just make me think, but changes my perspective from that point on, even if only by a degree or two, Sometimes I know as soon as I hear it that I’m never going to forget it. I think this, by Will Smith-Yes-That-Will-Smith, is one of the truly great quotes of our time.

There are a couple other reasons why Donald Trump shouldn’t be President anymore I’ll briefly summarize in a second. But first, apologies for my absence lately. Although I’ve started painting and posting signs again, I’ve been trying to write about other things. I’m sure you all know how hard it can be to feel like you’re doing justice to people and ideas that are especially important to you in words. A couple of weeks ago I was writing a long-overdue eulogy for someone very special in general, but particularly to me, and it just became excruciating. Not from grief, but just the writing itself — where each word felt like the last drop being wrung from a cloth. I’d spent half an hour on a single sentence that ended up sounding just as tortured as I’d felt writing it and realized it was time for a break.

Click. Nothing like Reddit to instantly drain away whatever’s on your mind.

Oh look! Someone’s replied to one of my comments!

“You can hold the opinion that trump wasn’t a good president but I have a problem when you can’t justify it. I can give 10 reasons off the top of my head for why Biden simply put, sucks, but I can only think of that one time trump kind of undermined the military but other than that his policy was fantastic. Can you justify why you don’t like trump?”

  Y’know it’s funny: when I’m trying to describe the things I cared about in a person I cared about for an audience I care about, every goddam word gets sweated out drop by drop. But some asshole on Reddit who’s probably 14 writes crap like the above and suddenly my words like the mighty Mississippi flow. What follows is what came out of me immediately after reading the comment, how I learned Reddit had a 10,000 character limit per comment, and what should’ve been blasted across America like a Wall of Sound. (Full Disclosure: some of the pageant-peeping part was cut and pasted from a previous story called Spelunking into the Ugliness & 8 lines beginning with “your big hero’s known as literally one of the biggest assholes who’s ever stepped onto the world stage…”  is from “Ask the Bastards Why” — the rest was just common sense.) I’ve broken it up a bit with some of my new signs, and feel free to skim or just scroll: the emphasis here being that this started pouring out of me within two minutes of a half-hour sentence.

Apparently ignorance has become my inspiration,

stupidity now my muse…

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
Long story behind this one…

“Can I justify why I don’t like Trump? Why yes, I believe I can!

First off, he’s a braggart. Find one person in history who was both a braggart and considered good. (Hint, there’s one, but it ain’t Trump.) Also feel free to use a fictional character, or Biblical, or from theater.
Go back as far as you like. That braggarts suck is one of the few timeless and cross-cultural human constants. While you’re doing that, let’s go chronologically for a bit. One of his first forays into politics was the Central Park five Ad condemning those who were found innocent – not retracted or, obviously, not apologized for. As they say, it takes a big man to apologize. When you’re done finding the good braggart you can get started looking for evidence of Trump apologizing for anything.
Next… ah yes, the birth certificate! Well, obviously ol’ Donnie must’ve come up with SOMETHING to justify all that blather. Why just the “things his people are finding in Hawaii that you’re not gonna believe…” would be nice to see. Oh dear! Seems like all that juicy evidence isn’t available anymore – dog ate it perhaps. I’m guessing a Trump supporter would think “Yes, it got lost or a dog ate it.” Am I right? Anyway, cynic that I am, seeing the evidence would be nice – otherwise one might get the feeling there was no evidence (and Obama being dark-skinned doesn’t count.) So, there’s that. Mind you, if he’d said something along the lines of “My interests in this matter are for one reason: to prove the birth requirement is utter BS, for if we were to go by it we’d miss out on the sterling character of this man Barack Hussein Obama, whose calm strength I for one can only happily stand in the shadow of.” (If you can find him saying that – that’d be cool too.)

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.

We’ll just briefly touch upon the humiliation that is John Barron – you know, the fake publicist he pretended to be in an attempt to make his being super rich and successful and happy, with women lining up and clamoring to date him, including Madonna, somehow an objective addition to the public record. Now, there was a time I’ll admit when I would’ve thought such a ruse was pretty cool: but then I turned five and realized how absolutely pathetic someone would have to be to do that.

Let’s bypass the shameless wankfest of self-promotion that was Trump in the 90’s & aughts, the bankruptcies, failed marriages, slapping the shit out of Don Jr in front of his dorm-mates cuz he wasn’t wearing a suit to a baseball game and go on to the campaign. What’s that? Mexico’s sending murderers and rapists? Odd thing to say, perhaps he has some proof before demeaning some of the weakest members of the society. You’d think some sort of evidence would be called for, before going to war with Mexico over what I guess would have to amount to a years-long Mariel boatlift. But he didn’t go to war with Mexico – guess he’s okay with their sending us their rapists and murderers. Seems a bit cowardly if you ask me, but perhaps cowardice isn’t a bad thing where you’re from. Aren’t cultural differences fascinating?

Me? I have nothing against people who risk their lives to make 10 times as much money as they would in the slums of Tegucigalpa, especially when so much of their motivation appears to be to send the money back so their families can have better lives. I’m guessing you don’t know a whole lot about 3rd world poverty – well, by the time you factor in the earning power in the USA to the buying power the dollar has against the Honduran Lempira, that guy’s labor’s worth about 30 times as much. And God Bless them especially if they’re kids – setting off into the world on the high road to adventure… reminds me of myself at that age. Also reminds me what a total piece of shit some rich boy who had everything in his life handed to him would have to be to launch his candidacy by demeaning such people.

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
When I really like something, I try to share it.

Quick stop by the table full of files and obviously untouched reams of paper that were “all the paperwork he’d had to fill out” to separate himself from his business interests. Also Bullshit. And Michael Flynn already sucking up to the Russians before the term began – I suppose you’d have him doing that all by his lonesome with no collaboration from Trump because of course you would.

Day One, lies about inaugural crowd size through Sean Spicer, although again I’ll guess you think that was probably Ol’ Sean just going rogue don’t you. Well, not me – it seems to fit in perfectly with the poor damaged freak’s MO of “Look at me everybody! Look at me! I’m the VERY BEST at EVERYTHING!” Thus kicking into gear what will be the most extended detail-oriented ritualistic display of Public Masturbation since… Nope, I think he might’ve actually taken top spot on that one. Even Caligula had more class and restraint.

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
The only Americans who shouldn’t be putting these up right now are those who are either incarcerated, paralyzed, criminally insane or members of the Republican Party.

Day Two, tries to silently have all sanctions removed from Russia. “Oh, No Particular Reason…” Idiot thought he could actually do that and like… nobody would notice? Jesus.
Hey, y’know what? We’re getting ahead of ourselves, I forgot all about some of the Really Special little bumps along the ol’ Campaign Trail. Time for Great Moments in Presidential Campaigning. Might as well start with the Big Hit:
“I did try and fuck her. She was married. I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. I just start kissing them. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything—grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Makes the old heart just swell with pride doesn’t it? Because who but the finest men think that way? And what fine upbringings they must’ve had to think talking that way was any kind of appropriate? Perhaps if there was some sort of social club for brain-damaged rapists, but shy of that – no. Not in any society I’d ever be a part of. Pleased to say everyone I’ve ever voluntarily spent any time with looks at that sort of thought as utterly contemptible in every sense of the word. Okay, let’s you, me and the Donald stop by Jefferey Epstein’s place. What’s that you say Don?
“I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it – Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

“It is even said…” such an elaborate construction! Sounds as if poets and troubadours are all amazed by your… shared appreciation of beautiful women! Why, you ARE a rare bird now aren’t you! And many are on the younger side you say wink wink nudge nudge… I mean Jesus Fucking Christ, what a clueless loser: right up there with the John Barron “Oh that Donald Trump He’s so fabulously successful and happy all of the time because women from everywhere are just lining up to fuck him” fake publicist fiasco.

movie poster for a movie I made up
Horror-flick based on personal fantasies surrounding Melania’s reaction upon discovering her son had been given the same name as the fake publicist her husband pretended to be in an effort to make people think that Madonna wanted to fuck him.

And we’ve gotta add some Super Special Bonus Points for… god, I still crack up over this…naming

his kid Barron. God. Damn. I wonder when Melania found out? That must’ve been fun: “You named our son after the fake publicist you pretended to be so people would think Madonna wanted to fuck

you?  And you thought… what? I wouldn’t NOTICE?” And then from Barron, probably one of the lesser enthusiastic “Gee. Thanks Dad.”s in Presidential history, don’t you think?

Let’s pop by the Howard Stern Show, shall we? Okay Don… the mic’s all yours!

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show, and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere. And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, I’m inspecting, I want to make sure that everything is good.
You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”

Oh DO You? Oh, well that IS pretty special! And to think there could be people out there who might look askance at such wholesome good-natured not-at-all-creepy-or-fucked-up fun? Why on earth not?

I thought it might be fun if we dove a little deeper here. Sure we could just say “Man, what a gross, disgusting asshole, getting his jollies trying to peep on teenage girls…” and move on – ‘cuz there’s LOTS more ground to cover when it comes to personal shortcomings and character flaws in President Bonespurs “Pussygrabber” McSyphilis. But let’s stop and see just how many different layers of pure ugliness there are to be mined in just this one segment, shall we?

free reality winner sign on third week
Going into its 4th week in direct view of 300,000 cars per day, but I’ll be changing it soon out of respect to so large an audience. Signs can stay up for months in this spot because it SEEMS really difficult to get to but is actually just a 4 minute walk. One key factor is that Republicans can’t climb hills.

We’ll start with the basic ugliness of the concept and pedophiliac sentiment behind it, and of course the ugliness that it actually happened. There’s the ugliness of the man and his character, the ugliness of his voice, it’s smutty little tone and the ugly little way he describes it. There’s the ugliness of the fact he thinks it’s a story worth telling, and that he feels it’s something to brag about, both the story and its teller become exponentially uglier still. Of course there’s the ugly image we get in our minds of this pasty faced, flabby old pervert lurking around rooms full of young girls – his ugly, beady little eyes furtively leering at their bodies and whatever ugly little fantasies it inspires in him.

I’m not a big fan of beauty pageants myself, but you still gotta figure for these young girls this is a really big deal, most likely one of the most exciting times of their lives, so there’s the ugliness of having Pervy McSweats-a-lot walking in and ruining what should’ve been a culminating moment of their childhood. Multiply that by the ugliness of however many lifetimes of innocent memories he ruined. And add to it the ugliness that he’ll never understand or care about any of that.

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
This has been up for 18 days now over Interstate 80 in Berkeley. Offset posting so it’s not directly overhead usually will at least double the duration, but 18 days for a sign that size is incredible. 165,000 cars per day. It took me about half an hour to make & with so much black paint probably cost me 25 or 30 cents, so the least you can do is visit her site.

Boy, that’s a whole lotta ugly, ain’t it? Any more?
Well, there’s the ugly fact that the man who said it became President of the United States and that most of people who voted for him did so knowing he’d said them. And you can slather on to that a big fat ugly layer of hypocrisy knowing any and probably every one of them would’ve damned a Democrat for even a fraction of the offense and they’re all still living here – in fact, I believe I’m chatting with one right now! But like beauty, ugliness too is in the ey3e of the beholder, right? So that fat leering old fuck bragging about shitting all over everyone’s childhood so he can get himself a chubby little boner might very well strike you as the very height of elegance and class!
Likewise, being a plutocratic, xenophobic, ultra-nationalistic, sexist, divisive, demonizing, anti-intellectual, nepotistic, fraudulent, gaslighting double-speaking, autocratic, jingoistic authoritarian might well appeal to you after you’ve looked them all up.
For all I know you think that Virus-Spreading, Bounty-Ignoring, Soldier-Insulting, Foul-mouthed, Pussy-Grabbing, Dictator-coddling, Draft-dodging, Pageant-Peeping, Odious, Soulless, Ignorant, Racist, Criminal Pervert is a Great Guy! And  blackmailing an ally at war by withholding military aid until they promised to announce an investigation to set-up his opponent’s son for no other reason than to help him cheat in an election was some kind of totally cool thing to do! Well, out here in the Big City, believe it or not, it’s considered one of the biggest geopolitical dick moves in history and your big hero’s known as literally one of the biggest assholes who’s ever stepped onto the world stage. This is rare but happens from time to time but only in cases where the asshole actually gets shit done! The asshole you think is so great didn’t do fuck-all for Four Goddam Years except divide us, openly embezzle, alienate our allies, destroy our institutions, lie over 22,000 times, and willfully and knowingly sacrifice over 320,000 Americans by the end of his term because he thought achieving herd immunity through mass infection of the Covid Virus would be a good idea without understanding one key principle that practically every scientist, epidemiologist, nurse, doctor and hospital worker knows by heart, which is that Donald J. Trump is a fucking idiot.

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.
Medicare For All is probably the best example of the failure of our current call/write/march/vote protest paradigm and how 70% of the country can want something and be totally ignored. So long as we direct our voices at lawmakers they’re just fine. What they don’t want is for us to start advertising what we want because then other people are gonna know we want it too, even when Fox News says we don’t.

Tired yet? Me too. I’m afraid we’ll have to let the Big Lie “Oh I won the election in a landslide! I just don’t happen to have a shred of evidence to back it up. Isn’t that okay? NO? Why, I’ve always had everything simply HANDED to me! Why can’t I have this?” We’ll just have to leave that, along with calling entire continents “shitholes,” Nazis “Fine People” Raw dogging the porn actress while his wife’s just given birth and the hilariousness that his base – particularly the evangelicals and family values conservatives – managed so easily to drop their mantle of sanctimony to wallow in the muck with their Hero as he gets spanked by  Stormy Daniels with a rolled-up Forbes magazine while watching “SharkWeek” But their existence by now has cured every inferiority complex ever suffered by anyone who wasn’t one of them, and will for years to come.

I’ve hardly touched on the fact he’s never expressed any emotions that weren’t directly from the amygdala, nor shown any ability to place value on anything that can’t be counted – so no love, sentiment, empathy, nostalgia. Nothing at all of the higher functions or any capacity whatsoever for humor or joy that wasn’t at someone’s expense. I challenge anyone to show me an example of him engaged in any kind of abstract thought, and try to imagine him finishing a sentence that begins:

First Amendment protected sign on an SF Bay Area freeway.

“Y’know that feeling deep inside when…”  Seriously: good luck with THAT.  The mind reels y’know, there’s all the stupid shit he’s said, all the obviously transparent lies, the total and absolute lack of appreciation for anything that’s not material. Honestly, if he wasn’t so obviously the damaged result of an overly needy kid who was left to rot in the cradle and spent his whole life begging for the attention his parents didn’t have the capacity to give I’d condemn him as the most disgusting and irredeemable person on earth. But of course there are probably a few truly, truly horrible examples living out their own sick fantasies in the dark holes where they’re most comfortable. But publicly, as a reflection of the aggregate of what I know, I’ll have to say Donald J Trump is more vile and worthless than maggot shit in a rat’s corpse rotting in the sewers of hell. And not the nice sewers of hell either: the really gross ones.
And believe me, I could go on. But apart from all that, and being a pompous, arrogant, know-nothing bully who somehow can still lower himself into the most brown-nosing ingratiating self-abasing obsequious toadying slavering little bootlick whenever Vladimir Putin’s around, he’s a braggart, and as I recall you were supposed to find one of those that was good. How’d it go? Not so good huh? Well, that’s okay: the answer was Mohammed Ali.

Now then, you were going to say something about Biden?”

free reality winner sign over I-580
The Founders of this Nation left very few rules to those who’d come after them, but no intervention by foreign states was one of the big ones, right after No More Fucking Kings. Reality Winner blew the whistle on Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election. She doesn’t belong in jail and never did. See what you can do to help.

Did you know that an ordinary family could buy a home in Brooklyn, NY for only $80,000?

0
I’m not normally very taken with the “gotcha”” questions to politicians of “how much is a dozen eggs?” or “what is the price of milk?” Or (in the right locale) “what is the current price of soybeans?”  I’m not surprised or upset that HW Bush didn’t know what a supermarket scanner was, or even that Mitt Romney seemed genuinely stumped by the notion of a doughnut.  I mean, who’s kidding who here?
But I thought this question to two candidates for NYC mayor was really notable:  “What is the median price for a home in Brooklyn?”

McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, guessed that homes in the borough cost “somewhere in the $80,000 to $90,000 range.”  Donovan, who was secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, replied “around $100,000.” 

I read this and thought: $80, 90, 100 thousand?!?  Holy shit!  The article continues:

The actual median home price in Brooklyn is around $900,000, according to real estate appraisers.  

Wow, that’s really being out-of-touch.  I suppose one could argue that not knowing the upper-range – a median price close to $1 million – reflects a failure to appreciate gentrification and (I dunno) could be defended in some narrow sense.  But to think that a typical person in NYC is buying a home for $80K or $100K?!?  That is spectacularly disconnected.  It is beyond disqualifying.  As my brother observed, it would not have been worse if they guessed $5. 
It is always interesting to realize that we usually are electing someone who is as close to the local community as was Pontius Pilate.

Republicans attack critical race theory they have no clue about, except it uses the word 'race'

0

Right-wing white hysteria is being whipped up into a frenzy, yet again. There have been an all-out Republican efforts to stymie any progress this nation has made by rejecting Trump, electing Biden-Harris, and attempting to push forward legislation to correct the depredations of racist voter suppression and policing injustices. The buzzword being not only bandied around, but being translated into actual laws being passed in Republican-controlled jurisdictions, is the battle-cry against “critical race theory (CRT).”  

Frankly, the dog whistles at this point in time have turned into blaring foghorns of hate. No one with any sense watching the trainwreck now unfolding in state legislatures across the nation can possibly believe that these warriors of the right, defending “purity” and “American values,” give a damn about education, or legal theories. What they do care about is votes, and voters, and are using a time-honored tradition of stoking white fear to continue to maintain control over their constituencies. 

Not one of these neo-Confederates waging war on CRT would be able to pass a quiz explaining what it is or isn’t. From their perspective it is enough that CRT has a Black face, like that of Kimberlé  Crenshaw, and contains the word “race.”

I’m currently watching Loudoun County, Virginia, where a campaign has been launched to recall the local school board because they are “infecting our schools with critical race theory.” I’m pretty pissed off, to put it mildly. 

x

Loudoun is a place that plays a major role in my own family’s racial history, since it is where my mother’s family was enslaved, which I have researched and written about frequently. I also pay taxes there. Over the years many efforts have been made in the county, and progress has been achieved in teaching a history that had been unmentioned in schools. Now, a movement is underway to undo what racial progress has been made there—and elsewhere.

Critical race scholar David Theo Goldberg, has written an insightful piece for Boston Review, which is a must read.

x

The exact targets of CRT’s critics vary wildly, but it is obvious that most critics simply do not know what they are talking about. Instead, CRT functions for the right today primarily as an empty signifier for any talk of race and racism at all, a catch-all specter lumping together “multiculturalism,” “wokeism,” “anti-racism,” and “identity politics”—or indeed any suggestion that racial inequities in the United States are anything but fair outcomes, the result of choices made by equally positioned individuals in a free society. They are simply against any talk, discussion, mention, analysis, or intimation of race—except to say we shouldn’t talk about it.

Among CRT’s critics little distinction is drawn, in particular, between the academic disciplines of critical race theory and critical race studies. Critical race theory refers to a body of legal scholarship developed in the 1970s and ’80s, largely out of Harvard Law School, by the likes of Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Williams, Mari Matsuda, and Charles Lawrence, III, among others. Though varied in their views, what unites the work of these scholars is a shared sense of the importance of attending explicitly to race in legal argument, given the perpetuation of racial and other hierarchies through the structure of colorblind law instituted after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The framework has since been taken up, expanded, and applied more generally to social discourse and practice. As a jurisprudential and social theory it is open to critique and revision, even rejection with compelling counterargument—all notably absent from the current attacks.

Attempts to erase discussions of race, racism, and foundational white supremacy in this nation are doomed to failure, no matter these current attempts to legislate silence. The genie is out of the bottle and won’t be stuffed back in and silenced.

Painting CRT as a Black boogeyman may work with those people who are already on the supremacy train, however it won’t fly with the rest of us, and will only serve to get more young people engaged in efforts to counteract the bigot agenda. 

Froth on, Republicans. Your vision for America is doomed.

Sen. Cornyn promotes WaPo story about GOP's plan to seize power via gerrymandering

0

Good gourd, did he only read the headline? Or is he really this cynical about the GOP’s ongoing campaign to rule with an iron fist over a majority of Americans, most of whom would rather tuck into a charcuterie board of brine-pickled assholes than ever vote Republican?

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is apparently pleased as punch that Texas’ influx of likely Democratic-leaning residents will nevertheless be turned into an electoral advantage for Republicans, and he’s telegraphing his Machiavellian glee to the world.

Behold!

x

The headline, which Cornyn replicates in his post, reads, “Texas’s population boom should be a boon to Democrats. But Republicans are reaping the gains.”

Does that mean—as you might assume, given that Cornyn is a loyal Republican—that Republicans are wooing these voters to their side, despite what appears to be a Democratic advantage? Ha ha ha ha ha! No, of course not. It means they’re cheating in order to maintain their feeble grasp on power.

The Washington Post:

Yet the change coming to Texas is, for now, likely to be the opposite of what one might expect. The state’s growth — fueled overwhelmingly by people of color in its largest cities and their close-in suburbs — should be cause for celebration among Democrats.

But because of the way the GOP-controlled legislature is expected to redraw congressional districts, this growth is predicted to be a boon for Republicans instead. When coupled with new lines in states such as Florida and Georgia, it might even be enough to flip control of the House in next year’s midterm elections.

“Gerrymandering is an easy road map to a Republican majority,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. “They have a lot of incentive to be very aggressive.”

Got that? While demographic trends are decidedly not in the GOP’s favor, they’re going to twist congressional districts into pretzels until they get the outcomes they want. That’s called gerrymandering. Another word for it would be “cheating.” Coincidentally enough, this is just the kind of thing the For the People Act, which Republicans hate, was created to stop

Needless to say, Twitter had some salty responses:

x

x

x

x

So Republicans are power-mad enemies of democracy. That part we knew. The alarming bit is that they’re not even trying to hide it anymore. 

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.