Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, July 31, 2020

Laurence Tribe and I Agree


“They’re trying to make it look chaotic but there’s a fail-safe mechanism built into the constitution itself,” Tribe said. “No matter how much dust he throws into the gears, at high noon on January 20th, 2021, if there has not been a new president elected, at that point, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House become president of the United States.”

Tribe explained that “all of the enablers at that point would risk committing federal felonies if they were to exercise power, which they no longer have, because Trump would no longer be president.”

And all the nervous nellies who think that if Trump denigrates the electoral process, the republic will fall.  As if democracy were a fairy tale we all agreed on, a god we kept alive only by our "faith" in it, and if we collectively realize there is no Santa Claus, the whole thing goes "poof!"  If that's all it is, a collective delusion, then good riddance to it.

But the fact is, voter turnout in this country is a joke and always has been.  Why?  Probably because those people don't trust the electoral process or don't think it's fair or don't think it matters.  How do you think we got Trump in the first place?  And now, because of Trump's loose tongue (and what, did these pundits and pooh-bahs suddenly notice Trump says remarkably stupid things and the best course of action is to ignore him completely?), suddenly the foundations of the republic are built on sand and that sand is about to disappear because the national believe in the electoral bedrock is about to turn it into fairy dust?

Get real.

Trump will complain, his handful of supporters (it ain't 30% of the country, not by a long shot) will complain, and you know what?  That'll be status quo.  There's always been some group complaining that everything was illegitimate including daylight savings time and time zones, and that the earth is a sphere instead of a plate.  Get over it.  Civics is not pretty, and suddenly realizing democracy in America is a blood sport is not an excuse for retiring to the fainting couch in fear of the barbarians who've been living here too, all along.  What, you think Steve Bannon came here from Mars?

Cross the Hudson.  Get out of D.C.  Stop "bigfooting" places like Texas or Ohio or Florida. Hell, Molly Ivins tried to tell the NYT what Texas was like:  they didn't want to hear it.  Didn't fit their narrative.

Let the narrative die.  It's fiction anyway, just like the fiction that all will be well when we go back to believing in Constitutional Santa Claus.  The system was not supposed to put a clueless clown like Trump in the Oval Office, but it did.  And the system has survived it.  He's not a fascist dictator because he has no clue how to govern:  period.  And on January 20, 2021, if he's still in court declaring "HOAX" and "FRAUD!," his time runs out.  But he won't be in court.  He won't spend his own money on that process.  And if the DOJ tries to, by the time it gets to court it'll be 1/20/21, and the legitimate ethical question anyway will be:  why is the DOJ carrying candidate Trump's, lame-duck Trump's, water?

We will actually survive this.  There are worse consequences to the presidency of Donald J. Trump than what he said in a tweet.  Like the death and chaos and economic collapse the country is in right now.  Like the fact we were once a shining city on a hill, and now we're the international lunatic asylum.  Those should be our much bigger concerns.

Texas Officials: No Action Until the Barn Has Burned Completely Down!



"Local health authorities play an important role in school closure determinations during the course of a school year if it is determined that a contamination has occurred necessitating closure, but local health authorities do not have the power to issue preemptive, blanket closures of schools weeks or months in advance of when a school may open its doors to students," the statement reads. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, state Rep. Dan Huberty, who chairs the House education committee, and state Sen. Larry Taylor, who chairs the Senate education committee, also signed onto the statement.

Weasel words, again.  Local health authorities are advising county health officials.  And this reasoning continues the argument from the AG's opinion, that we have to wait until people are infected before we do anything about the infection.

When, of course, people are ALREADY infected and hospitals are already above ICU capacity in most major metropolitan areas and the crisis is burning through South Texas like a prairie fire.  But we can't do anything for children and teachers because....well, GOP reasoning which doesn't make sense to ordinary people.

Government has become a mutual suicide pact because $$$$ uber alles.  Or something.  I confess, I simply don't understand anymore.

According To Your Public Schedule and Your Public Actions...


....all you do is watch cable news, play with your phone, and play golf on the weekends.

150,000 Americans are dead, and all you can talk about is your poll numbers and how the virus is a hoax.

This is pretty much what you do:

You're as useless in your position as a wild ape.  At least the ape would have an excuse.

The Upside Is

It provides for ads like this:

And it shows us who Trump really is.

That Is No Country for Old Men


But it's not because Mitch McConnell doesn't trust the courts.  It's because their ideology insists government cannot help, and should not help.  Basically, it's because they are all Herbert Hoovers.

And lordelpus, but the situation is turning Joe Biden into FDR and LBJ.  Which, come to think of it, is a good thing.

The Senate is on a 3 day recess.  The CARES Act expires today.  Unemployment checks dwindle or disappear; evictions can start on Saturday.  The Congress is no closer to an agreement on what to do next.  And Mitch McConnell still thinks he's got leverage for another "tort reform" wet-dream from decades gone by.

I think our problem is in being ruled by old men who know only the dim past, which they want to recapture or hold onto and pin down the future with.  I say this as an old man myself.  But that broad brush indicts Joe Biden, who is showing signs of change and willingness to see the future as something other than preserving the past in amber.

Will these actions dislodge Mitch McConnell in Kentucky?  I don't know.  I'm not so sure John Cornyn will be removed in Texas, much as he deserves to be.  But I suspect many Republicans on the ballot in Texas will find themselves out of work in January.  Hope springs eternal.  The simple fact is we can't afford these troglodytes any more.  They've not only outstayed their usefulness (if they ever had any), they've become positive dangers to the national interest and the public good.  Some of them will still be with us:  I doubt Louie Gohmert is going anywhere, and Ohio seems to still favor Trump, so I'm sure his district is not yet embarassed enough by Jim Jordan.  But we have rendered them noisy nothings in the House.  We need to reduce Mitch McConnell to a back-bencher, too.  And one place to start is with Obama's suggestion:  get rid of the filibuster.

Yeah, I know Biden hasn't backed that yet, but that's a decision for the Senate, not the POTUS.  We could use a little more independence of Congress from the White House, a bit more shouldering of responsibility for governance.

Maybe by November we'll have held the GOP responsible for what it's done to the country, and it won't matter who trusts the civil courts, and who doesn't.

Winning hearts and minds, eh?

The GOP Will Be Eating Its Young...

... for a long time.

Life Seldom Serves Up Lessons



...on a silver platter.

The President Is A Clueless Moron

This needs neither analysis nor rebuttal. The President is simply too stupid to function. He clearly doesn’t understand the present situation enough to recognize what’s at the end of his nose.

Proof once again the 25th amendment is a waste of paper.

"Dangerous Hack" Seems To Fit Like a Glove

So it's "Bash Jonathan Turley" week at Chez Adventus.  But when the target is this fat and easy, why not?

Turley avers:

Okay, fine; but the professor can't leave well enough alone:

The Raw Story account he tweets there contains the same quote as this tweet from Ben Siegel:

All Biden says there is that Trump will "try to kick back the election somehow."  I'd say even a tweet from the POTUS on that subject is "trying somehow."  Biden is not fueling a conspiracy theory; he's issuing a warning about Trump's propensity to run roughshod over Constitutional norms and barriers.

a)  federal troops in Portland acting in an extral-legal manner without consultation with, or consideration of, local law enforcement.  The canard that they are "protecting a federal building" doesn't justify seizing people off the streets of Portland in unmarked vans by unidentifiable officers, and then releasing them after they find no grounds to justify the arrest in the first place.

b) saying Thursday he'll do it again, this time with National Guardsmen (whom he will presumably nationalize, but same problem, as well as:  they aren't trained for law enforcement, as we found out at Kent State 50 years ago).

c) Saying also on Thursday that the election is "rigged" and "fixed" (conspiracy theories) and mail in ballots will come in so slowly it will be three months before the final count is known (which, among other things, would run up against the deadlines for the electoral college vote set by Congress in 3 U.S.C.). Another conspiracy theory, IOW, as grounded in reality as anything associated with Q Anon.

According to that Raw Story article Turley had written after Biden's remarks in February:

“The ultimate conspiracy theory was declared by the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, who warned that he was certain Trump plans to delay the election this fall,” Turley wrote. “It is a conspiracy theory utterly without factual or constitutional support, yet his warning was deemed a ‘prediction’ by Politico in a recent article.”
Now he adds, in his tweets, that Biden "was suggesting that Trump could unilaterally stop the election or use the Postal Service to steal it."  Which in a court of law would draw at least the objection that it assumes facts not in evidence.  I don't know where he got that idea, but probably from the same place Trump gets his ideas about coronavirus and who can get it (and who can't).

Turley wants to slice this so thinly it has only one side, but his razor isn't that sharp:

Trump is not claiming that he can unilaterally stop the election in this tweet.

No, he isn't; but neither is he clearly asking Congress to alter the law (the only way to postpone the election).  Nor did Biden say Trump would act unilaterally.  Biden said Trump would "try to kick back the election somehow."  Which is precisely what Trump did in that tweet.  Besides, if we're going to talk about conspiracy theories:

Maybe the professor can explain to the class the difference between a "mail-in ballot" and an "absentee ballot."  Because at least under Texas law, they are the same beast, at least as far as the "mail-in" part is concerned.  And why we are ignoring the multiple conspiracy theories of Donald Trump (he also said at his presser on Thursday that the Democrats are benefitting from the coronavirus hoax) in order to "both-sides" Joe Biden with this truly weak and untenable claim, is another question from the peanut gallery.

Because they seem to understand the situation better than the learned professor does.

"Poor, poor pitiful me"



But These Headlines...

...are not about Trump’s tweets!

What will Twitter say about this?

Tin Soldiers And Nixon Coming

We’re finally on our own.
Is anyone listening to this?
Um...what?
a) not a damned thing you can do about it; b) delaying the election will fix this how?
It’s a giant rabbit named “Harvey.” Standing right next to you, in fact.

And that Memo is Clearly Circulating


This one is actually worse than the "postpone the election" idea, because the media can endlessly cluck over this without any legal or Constitutional objections being raised.  As I've said before, I still blame AP for the Bush v. Gore debacle, and who anointed AP the officially unofficial arbiter of who won the election returns?  Don't we have 50 state governments and electors (Amendment 12, Amendment 20) to handle that?  When did AP get "unofficially" written into the Constitution?

How do political TeeVee journalists prove their worth if they can't be the first ones to call the election?  What good are all those exit polls and blinkenlights und spitzensparken and holograms (does CNN still do that?  Please tell me they don't.) if we can't have this:



Well, we've already had that, haven't we?  Can't we just enjoy that and leave well enough alone?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

"Whatever It Takes"



Just to say the "two tracks" idea is a completely bogus one.  Trump "sticks" to the "script" for moments at a time, and even then he literally goes off script because he can't stand to be told what to say or to stick to any "message" that doesn't come from his gut.  He's never stayed on any scripted messag for minutes, much less days or even hours.  His only guide is what he thinks is his self-interest.  That couldn't be more obvious if Trump wore a sign around his neck reading:  "I'M ONLY INTERESTED IN ME!"

And in semi-related news:  I do wonder if things like this are going to make him quit early, just to cut off the flow of revelations that prove he is not at all what he's always said he was.

Does anybody really doubt that's why he's fighting tooth and nail to hold onto his tax returns?

The View From the Bridge


I know the sky is falling and only the clever people understand that, but this strikes me as a much more thoughtful take on the guy who tried to start a suburban war in Portland and still thinks racists are both fine people and his loyal base.

For several years, it has been the stuff of his opponents’ nightmares: that President Trump, facing the prospect of defeat in the 2020 election, would declare by presidential edict that the vote had been delayed or canceled.

Never mind that no president has that power, that the timing of federal elections has been fixed since the 19th century and that the Constitution sets an immovable expiration date on the president’s term. Given Mr. Trump’s contempt for the legal limits on his office and his oft-expressed admiration for foreign dictators, it hardly seemed far-fetched to imagine he would at least attempt the gambit.

But when the moment came on Thursday, with Mr. Trump suggesting for the first time that the election could be delayed, his proposal appeared as impotent as it was predictable — less a stunning assertion of his authority than yet another lament that his political prospects have dimmed amid a global public-health crisis. Indeed, his comments on Twitter came shortly after the Commerce Department reported that American economic output contracted last quarter at the fastest rate in recorded history, underscoring one of Mr. Trump’s most severe vulnerabilities as he pursues a second term.
Perspective is always helpful in these matters.

I especially like this bit:

Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.

Because honestly, who is listening to this 70 year old crank except the Chicken Littles of the internet who are waiting breathlessly for their worst fears to come true just so they can say "See?  I TOLD you SO!"  Trump can't administer a 2 hour press conference, and yet he's going to find the genius to assemble a team that will thwart the Constitution itself?

Please.  In four years he's barely been able to assemble a team to thwart the will of Congress and build 2 miles of border wall.

“So many dead and the economy in free fall — and what’s his reaction? Delay the election,” Mr. Weld said. “It’s a sign of a mind that’s having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with reality.”

Ain't it, though?  I think the same applies to portions of the internet.  They and Trump almost deserve each other. I don't know what the rest of us did to have to suffer both of them at once.

I think, and once more with feeling, that it comes down to this:

The timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet, as much as the content, highlighted the extent to which he has become a loud but isolated figure in government, and in the public life of the country. In addition to failing to devise a credible national response to the coronavirus pandemic, he has made no attempt to play the traditional presidential role of calming the country in moments of fear and soothing it in moments of grief.

Never was that more apparent than on Thursday, when Mr. Trump spent the morning posting a combination of incendiary and pedestrian tweets, while his three immediate predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — gathered in Atlanta for the funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights hero.

As mourners assembled at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mr. Trump had other matters on his mind, like hypothetical election fraud and, as it happened, Italian food.

“Support Patio Pizza and its wonderful owner, Guy Caligiuri, in St. James, Long Island (N.Y.).” the president tweeted, referring to a restaurateur who said he faced backlash for supporting Mr. Trump. “Great Pizza!!!”

And I didn't even know about those tweets. Nor, now that I do, do I really want to.

"And I Alone Can Fix It!"


John Lewis has some final words for all us, including and especially the current President of the United States.

The rest of us can pay attention, anyway.

Because They Should Be Mocked At Every Opportunity

John Cornyn assures us Trump was J.K.!
Can't you take a joke? Or is it that the President is a joke? Or his presidency is a joke?  Quick, somebody ask Sen. Cornyn who we should laugh at.  And should be still just relax and have a Corona with lime?

I still can't believe that Tweet is still up.  It belongs in a TV ad by now.

Your turn, Senator.

Never mind; there's clearly a GOP memo out there somewhere:

These guys aren't that clever (see what I did there?) on their own.

I Honestly Thought Texas Was Bad


Last night Texas Medical Center was running at 104% of ICU capacity.

Then again, I haven't heard if the county in south Texas with one hospital is still triaging who gets admitted and who gets declared "hopeless" and not worthy of a hospital bed.  Or if the crematoria in South Texas are up and running again.

Shit is bad all over.  It ain't a competition; it's a very slow-rolling horror show, and there is no audience, only characters who can't escape the story.

"The Year is 1798..."

Gonna start with:

“We’re gonna keep the name of Robert E. Lee?” Mr. Trump asked Mr. Inhofe, 85, who sat at Trattoria Alberto, a Capitol Hill Italian restaurant that is a favorite haunt of Washington Republicans, as he took the call. Mr. Inhofe put the phone to his ear but put Mr. Trump on speakerphone, and the president’s voice was audible by people sitting at other tables.

The Lovely Wife does this; puts her phone on speaker, then talks as if it's not.  Never have understood why.  Then again, Inhofe is 85; it's probably a legitimate hearing issue.

Mr. Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, replied, “Just trust me, I’ll make it happen.”

We would also accept:  "Hold my beer."

Mr. Trump went on, “I had about 95,000 positive retweets on that. That’s a lot,” appearing to refer to a Twitter post last Friday in which he said that Mr. Inhofe had assured him that he won’t change the names of “military forts and bases” and that the senator “is not a believer in ‘Cancel Culture.’”

Mr. Trump, in the Wednesday night phone call, could be heard criticizing “cancel culture” and then told Mr. Inhofe that people “want to be able to go back to life,” and then appeared to dismiss the focus on the cultural shift taking place across the country with an expletive.

I love "cancel culture." Can I just tell you that I love "cancel culture"?  It's as invented an idea as "politically incorrect," but nobody's picking it up and Bill Maher's not changing the name of his show (yet).  It's as empty as a phrase can be.  Since I'm teaching English Lit right now,  it seems to be this is kind of like being in the early 19th century and decrying those "punks" Wordsworth and Coleridge for their unseemly take on what they think is "literary."  We are, I think, literally in that kind of cultural tsunami, and people like Inhofe and Trump are never gonna know what hit 'em.  They'll still be complaining about Lyrical Ballads while the rest of us have moved on to Shelley (Percy and Mary) and Byron (let's please not reprise Keats, though.)

Come to think of it, what does Inhofe think about Trump's idea to "delay" the election?  Hmmmmm.....

Vote Early and Often!


Texas Democrats saw 1 million voters turnout across the state for a July primary runoff election, in which no one named Beto O'Rourke was running (I defy any random 5 Texans to name 2 people involved in the primary runoffs).  Sure, by the standards of registered voters its a tiny number; but by the standards of turnout for primary runoffs, it's a tidal wave.

Early voting in Texas starts October 13.  I plan to mail in my ballot that day, or the earliest day after I receive it that I can.  I suspect I'm going to have a lot of company.

Oh, dear, what can the matter be?


Three guesses, first two don't count.





I think Obama is gonna win the headlines war:

Once again, nobody is listening to Trump.

Can We Go Back to Talking About the Economy Now?






And some bafflegab with his answer:

No idea what the problem with "mass ballots out" is.  It's not like any state just mails ballots out to "Resident" or "Occupant" or just a mailing address.  States are empowered under the Constitution to conduct voting as they see fit, and within the confines of some federal law (like the 14th Amendment).  Not even the 15th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act (it's enabling legislation) stopped Chief Justice Roberts from declaring the year of Jubilee and allowing the states to do things the way they want to.  Funny to see such a conservative as McCarthy suddenly not understand that.

So, not exactly profiles in courage, but this is an "idea" that would never get through the House, much less through the Senate, and the GOP knows that.  Besides, how the vote is conducted is explicitly left to the states in the Constitution (I got THAT much right this time!).  50 states ain't gonna change their laws in time to satisfy Trump and the federal election date.

This much is clear:  nobody is listening to what Trump says anymore, except Twitter.  Maybe we could get rid of both of them in November?  Because yeah, it really is about this:

When the government releases gross domestic product data on Thursday, it is expected to show an unprecedented contraction of nearly 35% in the second quarter when America shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The decline was led by a sharp drop in consumption as consumers stayed home, businesses closed and schools taught children remotely.

“This is the largest decline in 70 years of quarterly data,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. Aside from the Great Depression, when there was no quarterly data, other sharp quarterly drops were 10% in 1958; 8% in 1980′s first quarter, and the 8.4% drop in the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2008.

I don't think the people affected care much about Trump's tweets, or even tweets about Trump's tweets.

Circus McGurkus


I saw this first.  I figured it was at a press conference, an off-the-cuff remark that was a casual piece of incoherence.  Not comforting in the chief diplomat of the United States, but not that bad.

Nope.

This is not a brain fart:

No, they won't.  They don't have that authority, as even AG Barr knows.

This would sound so much better with some Dr. Seuss rhymes.  But it would still be as nonsensical.

"Laughingstock o' the world, Ma!"

Sen. McConnell is Late for Lunch

Injected Bleach and Black Lights as Follow Up

Wha' fo' is all this brou-haha?

First, I will happily emend my earlier post. I could have sworn the date for federal elections is set in the Constitution. It is, instead, set by federal law. Congress, of course, is not going to change that date at this late date. But let's say they did.

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution ends Trump's term on January 20, 2021.  Without an election by that point, or without election results (more on that in a minute) by that point, Trump has "failed to qualify" and the vice-president has "failed to qualify," so the Speaker of the House becomes President.  Say hello to President Pelosi.

No, Trump is too stupid to have thought that far ahead.

As for the election results, that's already the "problem" some at FauxNoise are trying to raise as the "problem" with mail-in ballots.  I am not making this up:

Varney interrupted: “Hold it. Mr. Senator, I do apologize for interrupting you but if we have mail-in balloting the way it’s scheduled now, there is absolutely no way you will get an election result on election night or even in the first few days. That means confusion and endless challenges. That is a mess.”

“What do you think?” the Fox Business host continued. “Delay the election?”

“No, we’re not going to delay the election, Stuart,” Barrasso replied. “We’re going to have the election completed and voting completed by election day. It’s going to take a while to get all the votes counted. I am certain — we need to continue to do this state by state.”

Varney complained that mail-in ballots can not be counted as quickly as traditional ballots.

“It’s a mess, Senator!” he exclaimed.

“There’s a lot that’s changed because of coronavirus,” Barrasso admitted. “We have been focused and working making sure elections are secure and we will get results. It’s going to take a while, I believe that it will. We may not know on election night the balance of the House of Representatives or the Senate or the presidency.”

“But we will not delay the election,” he added.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  we used to not know the election results before midnight on election day, and somehow the Republic struggled on.  I think we'll survive a delay of even weeks (NY is just now reporting primary results from a vote six weeks ago because of mail-in ballots and coronavirus related issues).  We'll be fine.  Even Sen. Barrasso won't agree with Varney that the sky is falling.  Trump has drawn so much attention to that kind of incoherence everybody is listening and nobody is buying.  A con always works on having the smallest audience possible.  That audience is now nationwide.  So why is Trump doing this now?  I don't think it's just because he saw new polls.



Yeah, he's trying to be sure we don't talk about how bad the economy is; as if, in not talking about it, none of the unemployed and those filing new jobless claims, will notice they are unemployed?

Such is the nature of our politics:  if we aren't talking about it on Twitter, it doesn't matter.  Of course, most of us on Twitter still have jobs  (internet access ain't free!).

Amend The Constitution Within 95 Days?

Sure, that could happen. In cloud cuckoo land.
That’s more like it. But this is even better.

Another Day Wasted

I'm sorry I can't link to every tweet Charlie Pierce published today; or at least the ones related to the service for John Lewis.  It's clear I missed something far more important than what nonsense Trump spewed today, or how everyone responded to it.




I know I'm a 65 year old fart, but dammit!  We still have giants among us, and it wouldn't hurt us to listen to them before they pass.




And Barack Obama unbound?  How long have I been waiting for that?

Maybe there'll be a DVD, or something I can download.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CALLED IT!

TWICE!! (Trump still living in NYC in his mind)

As We Close the Day....


It's still not weird enough for me.  But it's getting there.

Slouching toward Bethlehem, as it were...

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

It's Worth Noting


Trump is in Midland.  Not Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso.  Midland.  Not, IOW, a major urban center.  He had to go to the far edge of Texas to find a receptive audience.  Wealthy, too, without doubt.  But he's not exactly going to what might be unfriendly territory (or a covid-19 hotspot, although there almost is anywhere in Texas that isn't, right now.)

Of course he wasn't.  The mask protects other people, after all.

Louie Vies with Cruz for Biggest Asshole on Capitol Hill


I still think it's the Texas tradition of sending our biggest assholes to D.C., to show our contempt, and to get 'em outta our state.  Even Texas isn't that big.

seewhutahmean?

This Is NOT How You Do It


Much as I admire Elizabeth Warren, I have to say this is not the wisest course of action.  Drawing attention to Trump's abuses of power outside a Senate hearing or resolution on the Senate floor is just giving him the attention he craves.  I don't doubt the mayor of Portland is right and the withdrawals are coming (if they haven't already started), but giving Trump an excuse to "show 'em who's boss" is not a genius move.

Especially since, with the exception of Secretary Esper, the rest of the Cabinet is either cowed by Trump, or is Ben Carson (Idiot) or Mike Pompeo (Delusions of Grandeur and Surviving Trump).

Leave Trump alone; he's already bored, he's already walked away from the table.  Read the signs, and try for something a bit less like a really stupid and futile gesture, next time.

And he's already setting up to declare victory:

As usual for Trump, reality be damned!  Nobody's really paying attention to Portland anyway, so he can leave and claim he won.

Same.  Trying to be sure they claim victory on their terms, not the Mayor's.  Wait and see.

Does He Imagine....


America beyond 9th Avenue is a John Updike novel?

Is anybody even reading John Updike these days?

Yeah, yeah, Wordsworth was right:  the child is Father to the Man.  And the Father is father to the child who follows Father on how to be a Man.

Lordelpus.

The Louie Chronicles


This was always the flaw in Louie Gohmert's "reasoning." When you refuse to wear a mask until you test positive, by the time you do test positive, the horses are out of the barn and the barn has burned down.

And yes, yes I do intend to run that metaphor right into the ground.  Why do you ask?

But Gohmert is the gift that keeps on giving (and I still can't decide if East Texas, where I was reared as a young 'un, is trying to send their craziest to D.C. to keep 'em away from home, or if he's a product of a representative government.  It's a close run thing.):

They'd have been fine with getting that news over the phone; or even from the news reports, who probably reported it before Louie got to the office to scare everybody.

Yes, Louie swore up and down he wouldn't wear a mask until he got sick.  At least he's not attributing his condition to alien DNA and demon sperm.  Well, not yet, anyway.

That picture, BTW, is Louie telling a TV camera crew how he got sick from a mask.  And he's, again, maskless.

All hail "Typhoid Louie."

To Kick Ass and Chew Bubblegum


And Stewart Stevens is all out of bubblegum:

Racism is the original sin of the modern Republican Party. While many Republicans today like to mourn the absence of an intellectual voice like William Buckley, it is often overlooked that Mr. Buckley began his career as a racist defending segregation.

In the Richard Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips wrote a re-election campaign memo headed “Dividing the Democrats” in which they outlined what would come to be known as the Southern Strategy. It assumes there is little Republicans can do to attract Black Americans and details a two-pronged strategy: Utilize Black support of Democrats to alienate white voters while trying to decrease that support by sowing dissension within the Democratic Party.

That strategy has worked so well that it was copied by the Russians in their 2016 efforts to help elect Mr. Trump.
I'm really a little surprised at his honesty.  But then again, I think all the hatred and racism of the past 50 years (no, not all the racism; that's in our bones, not just in our guts) has become too much for us.  Rod Serling tried to turn it into a metaphor once, about 50 years ago.  In his story it was the darkness of our souls made manifest in a night that wouldn't turn to day again, a hatred, one character said, that Americans had collectively finally vomited up, because it was so vile.  That emetic didn't lead to a national soul cleansing, and neither will this self-examination by some Republicans.

But it's a good place to start.

There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

How did this happen? How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. What others and I thought were bedrock values turned out to be mere marketing slogans easily replaced. I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market.

Mr. Trump has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of failure, he has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines of the Republican Party. A party rooted in decency and values does not embrace the anger that Mr. Trump peddles as patriotism.
The house is going to fall on the witch in November, but that doesn't mean the witch is dead.  There was another evil witch in the story, if you recall.  No slate is ever wiped clean quite so easily.  Yes, this could lead to great things:

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

But such analogies are not comforting, considering the state of Russia today.  It more proves the French adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  John Le Carre, at the time the Soviet Union collapsed, advocated massive help from Western democracies to see Russia become a democracy.  It tried on its own, but the West refused to do much for it, and now we have Putin running what is probably a failed state, a kleptocracy barely propped up itself by propaganda and oil.  The Czar is now a handful of bucanneer capitalists supporting the man who makes their wealth possible.  So the question is:  do we watch the GOP implode, and do nothing?  Or do we seize this moment?

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.

Maybe the question should be:  will we bring the change?

I Don't Think Joe is Just Running as "Not Trump"

Anyone Surprised?


If it's in the NYTimes, it must be true:

The federal agents will begin leaving downtown on Thursday, Ms. Brown said in a statement. An agreement with the state calls for the Oregon State Police to provide security for the exterior of the courthouse, while the usual team of federal officers that protects the courthouse year-round will continue to provide security for the interior of the courthouse.

The arrival of federal forces to protect the courthouse after weeks of raucous demonstrations outside protesting the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota infuriated local officials who did not ask for the federal deployment. It also triggered a dramatic escalation in the protests in downtown Portland, with demonstrators mounting nightly rallies outside the courthouse that often included tear gas and fireworks.

“These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community,” Ms. Brown said.

Ms. Brown said that Vice President Mike Pence was among the people involved in the discussions to withdraw the federal officers.
Trump barks loudest right before he folds like a cheap suit. (I know, I mix my metaphors.  You get what you pay for around here.)

Making a Noisy Retreat

He always makes the biggest noise before he folds.

Talk is cheap. Talk is free. Action is expensive. Action costs. Trump wants someone else to pay for the action.  After all, at that same appearance he said this:

Does anyone think he's going to "school" the GOP Senate?

Besides, "go in and clean it out"?  What is he going to do, arrest the city of Portland?  Arrest every person on the street after dark?  Shoot 'em all and let God sort 'em out?  One idea is as absurd as the other.  Even if he did order federal officers to "Go in and clean it out," what would they do?

Wilson is right, this arouses Trump; but he's always been in love with the sound of his own voice.  But actions?  Trump hates actions, especially when nobody praises him for it.


Fervid Anticipation


All those stories about Trump imposing fascism on American cities and sending in the Feds to a city near you?

I was concerned, too.  But this is Trump.  It's not gonna happen.

Trump didn't get his sugar high from Portland, and he's already bored.  It didn't trigger a wave of support, it didn't turn the tide, it didn't win him the hearts and minds of millions: so he's through with it.  Sure, Trump could be a "strong man," sure, it could still happen here; sure, we could easily be Weimar Germany:  but we're not.  And he ain't.  And it's not happening.

Barr complained about this at his hearing yesterday:

Barr replied that U.S. Marshals and other federal agents have a duty to guard the Portland courthouse from people tossing fireworks and trying to vandalize and break into the building. He said they are under siege in that building and need help dealing with a nightly barrage of fireworks, fires, and attacks. Multiple law enforcement personnel have sustained serious injuries, Barr said.

“We are on the defense, we are not looking for trouble, and if the state and the city would provide the law enforcement services that other jurisdictions do, we would have no need to have additional marshals in the courthouse,” the attorney general said. 

Turns out he's floating the trial balloon for withdrawal, not release the stalking horse for taking over every major city in America.  Portland is not paying dividends.  It's not turning into a flash point and a rallying cry for white supremacist militias across the country.  It seems Trump is going to have to continue to rely on boat rallies in Florida to boost his ego.

Count on it:  those "troops" going to Chicago and elsewhere?  Never gonna arrive.  Trump is looking for a way out of this.  Not because he won, or realizes he poured kerosene on the embers in Oregon; but because he's tired of playing with that toy.  Because Christmas didn't come in July, because Portland didn't bring him the protests in other cities he expected.

Good thing we only have to endure this for a few more months.  I'm not sure we can take much more gross incompetence.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Children's Hour


Still think he's gonna fight for the election like a crazed wolverine?  I don't see it.

He spits a lot of smoke and sprays a lot of noise, but he's not even a yap-yap dog.  If you aren't buffaloed, he just gives up.  He'll scream on Twitter, maybe.  But short of a hanging-chads incident in the vote count, he'll have no choice.  And if the EC is so close its thrown into the House, it'll be a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.  In which case the EC won't be close in the first place, so....

For Those Of You Trying to Keep Score


Up is down.  Black is white.  Who's on first?  I don't know's on third.  Nobody's rounding home.  And the parents, teachers, staff, and children of the public schools of Texas, lose.  Game over, man.  Game over.

So here's where we are now:

On July 9, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said schools could close and not lose state funding if local health authorities told them they had to close to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  This, of course, is very important.  But comes now the indicted Attorney General of Texas to say health departments don't have this authority.  And now schools can lose their funding if they follow the local health authority and delay or refuse to open classrooms.

Which is a bit of a wrinkle in Harris County, where the County Judge, not the local health authority, issued the order to keep schools closed until October.  It is, frankly, a poorly reasoned letter on that ground alone, as it lumps the Harris County order in with other county orders, which may or may not have been promulgated by county commissioner's courts rather than simply be the edicts of county health authorities.  Or maybe counties can't rely on health authority reports as the basis for actions?  That's even more ludicrous.

You can read the letter for yourself, but allow me to fulminate.  First, the letter points out Texas law allows "control measures" to be imposed for "disinfection," "decontamination," "quarantine," "preventive therapy," and "prevention."  That's a portion of the list cited from the Health and Safety Code.  You have to be a pie-eyed fool not to realize that list is meant to suggestive, not inclusive or exclusive, and to cover any contingency that might arise without being specifically mentioned in the Code.  Like, oh, a pandemic that has already killed over 5700 people in Texas, and for which over 9800 are still hospitalized.  But since the word "Pandemic" doesn't appear in that list, I guess it's not covered.

No, seriously; that is the AG's "legal opinion."

First, Section 81.084 provides that the Department or a local health authority may quarantine property only if there is “reasonable cause to believe that property . . . is or may be infected or contaminated with a communicable disease[.]”
"May be" in that clause may not, says the AG, be read as "will be," even though it certainly will be.  And by which time, it won't matter, will it?  We can't close the barn door UNTIL the barn is burned down.  Sure, what else could the Lege have meant?

I mean, language clearly meant to give authority to respond to a crisis without making the crisis a permanent state of affairs, is now read to say we CAN'T respond to a crisis until we are certain everyone has been exposed or infected, because "reasons"!  (I am not making this up.)

Second, even when there is such a reasonable belief, the period of quarantine is limited. Section 81.084 restricts the duration of a quarantine to “the period necessary for a medical examination or technical analysis of samples taken from the property to determine if the property is infected or contaminated.” If the property is not infected or contaminated, the quarantine must be removed. If the property is found to be infected or contaminated, the health authority must remove the quarantine and return control of a property if technically feasible control measures to disinfect or decontaminate property are effective.
Do you still think I exaggerate?  You underestimate the mendacity of the Texas AG:

Similarly, section 81.085 empowers the Department or a local health authority to impose an “area quarantine coextensive with the area affected” by an outbreak of communicable disease.17 Like a property quarantine under section 81.084, an area quarantine requires at least “reasonable cause” to believe that “individuals or property in the area may be infected or contaminated with a communicable disease.”18 Therefore, like a property quarantine, an area quarantine may not be imposed for purely prophylactic reasons. To the extent a local health authority seeks to employ section 81.085 to order closure of a school, the authority would need to demonstrate reasonable cause to believe the school, or persons within the school, are actually contaminated by or infected with a communicable disease.

Clear now?  We can't put out the fire until the building has burned down, because until then we don't have a "reasonable cause" to think the fire is burning in the neighborhood of the building.

No, they won't stop there, and you can't make them:

Even then, local health authorities would be wrong to rely on section 81.085 to quarantine individual parcels of property. That provision states that, “If an outbreak of communicable disease occurs in this state, the commissioner or one or more health authorities may impose an area quarantine coextensive with the area affected.” “Coextensive” means to the exact extent.

Again, "coextensive" in the Code is meant to limit the quarantine area to an area necessary to contain the contagion.  In the case of a pandemic, however, "coextensive" can reasonably reach to the county line; or in the case of the "Houston area," the non-coterminous boundaries of 19 counties.  But to the AG, "coextensive" means you can't treat the city, or the building; because you can't act to stop the spread of the contagion (the point of a quarantine) until you can prove there is a need for the quarantine.  Well, we have that, of course, in almost every county in Texas.  But until the children are sick at school, there's nothing we can do.  And even if they are, we have to reopen ASAP, because we can't let the tyranny of public health impair our God-given right to expose ourselves and our children to a rampant and life-threatening disease, because the AG says Texas law says so!

There's a reason these letters are "non-binding."  Because even a JP (who doesn't have to be a lawyer) would laugh such reasoning out of court.  And if, after all that, you think the AG is not determined to come to a pre-decided outcome, let me remove any further doubts:

In this context, the “outbreak of communicable disease . . . in this state” is most naturally read to apply generally to the COVID-19 pandemic, not to infections occurring in individual buildings or locales. That is particularly true given that chapter 81 includes a separate provision for quarantining specific property.

Yes, we have a pandemic!  No, there's nothing we can do about it!  Suck it up, people!  The law is a ass!  Or at least the lawyers at the Texas AG's office are.

This is a fucking parody of legal reasoning.

And I still question their reasoning because they continue to rely on the authority of "local health authorities" which is not a term coextensive (hem hem) with County governments:

Finally, a local health authority may not impose an area quarantine until it consults with the Department, and it must give written notice to and consult with each affected county and municipality.

As I said, the order in Harris County was issued by the County government, not by the County health department.  Because it rests on the advice of that department it is illegal?  That's crap legal analysis, too.  (They do expand their reach to include any local county authorities, but only after refusing to be that sweeping in their argument until the end.  Any competent judge would notice the sleight-of-hand there and wonder why they tried to pull it off so clumsily.)

Honestly a first year law student could write a better interpretation of statutory language.

And, of course, it sets the fox among the chickens again as coronvirus cases rise across the state (more in some areas than others) and school opening dates originally set for 3 weeks from now and postponed until October return.  I presume the school districts can close schools if infection strikes the staff and faculty and children.  After the barn has burned down, in other words.

AWKWARD INTRUSIVE UPDATE:

Texas Tribune has added comments from one County, as follows:

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, whose county is among those with a mandate to close schools, said local officials will continue to make decisions to keep students safe "regardless of what opinion General Paxton comes up with."

"The only way that it would really screw things up is if Abbott tried to take away the control from the local groups," Jenkins said.
Local officials are sick of getting whip-sawed, and Abbott is so far showing no interest to poke his nose into this hornet's nest.  I think the Judge is right (he's a county official, not a law judge, just to clarify):  Paxton's opinion means bupkis, and should be treated as such.

God-damn! I'm glad my daughter is too old to be in school.  The people in charge of this state are the biggest bunch of clowns I've ever had the misfortune to live around.  And I've known some real clowns in my time.

Speaking of clowns:  this is Texas, why not stir some racism into it?

“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?” Ginn tweeted. He juxtaposed his tweet with a GIF of Prince Harry, of Wales, miming a mic drop.

After @TexasDSHS corrected inaccurate reporting & updated demographics of #COVID19 deaths:

1) 7-day avg deaths peaked on July 14
2) Mostly elderly & Hispanics dying
3) Very few kids die

Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico? pic.twitter.com/mZF8LQolO9
— Vance Ginn (@VanceGinn) July 28, 2020

I'm assuming that was a tweet that was removed, since the Texas Tribune only has the text, not the tweet.  Ginn is "the chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation."  He seems nice.  Apparently dead Hispanics is no reason to worry, and as "Very few kids die," it's not a problem to expose them, huh?  And we peaked on July 14, so it must all be downhill from here, huh?  (well, deaths peaked, not cases.  But deaths are all that matter, right?  Except when it's Hispanics, old people, or not "too many" (?) kids.  Apparently.)

Again, do these people understand how contagion works?  Or the long-term damage some who survive covid-19 suffer?

Ginn insists his tweet was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.”  See, it's not his fault what he said, it's your fault for what you thought he said! (He did apologize for the GIF, but not for the content.)

Nice work if you can get it.

Almost 53% of public school students were Hispanic in 2018-19 and more than 60% are economically disadvantaged, according to Texas Education Agency data. Public health experts have said schools that reopen in areas with high and fast-rising rates of community spread are likely to exacerbate the effect of the virus. That means staff and students could bring the virus home to their families.

Well, they probably won't die, and besides they're not white, right?  I'm trying not to take his remarks out of context out of bad faith again, but it's pretty clear this is a very racist analysis.  Wait a minute, I think I've figured it out:

Ginn, who previously served in the White House under President Donald Trump's administration as associate director for economic policy at the Office of Management and Budget, also served as senior economist for the think tank.
Yeah, they are the least racist and the most misunderstood people, aren't they?