Monday, May 31, 2021

Sure He Will

Let's start here:

Abbott has until June 20 to carry out the veto.

That's only three weeks away.  Each special session lasts 30 days.  If Abbott calls a special session for tomorrow, the Dems have 3 weeks to block passage of the bill they already objected to.  They could do that by simply leaving the state for extended vacations.  If Abbott hasn't rescinded his vow by June 20, what incentive do Democrats have to return to Austin, ever again?

The current state budget expires on September 1, 2021.  The Lege needs to return in the fall to redistrict Texas.  Legislators don't get paid a princely sum ($6000 a year, plus $221 per diem when the Lege is in session or special session), but staff gets paid a living wage.  And if they don't, (because Art. 10 covers funding for the entire Legislature, and legislative agencies) why should they show up? Is the Lege gonna redistrict without staff?  Are they going to function at all without staff?

Yeah, right.

The governor, who is the only official who holds the power to convene a special session, has not yet specified whether he plans to order one ahead of an overtime round already planned for the fall to handle the redrawing of the state’s political maps. An Abbott spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment earlier Monday.

He needs to make good on his threat by calling the Lege back tomorrow morning.  Short of that, there's no way they can respond to his threat.  If he cuts off legislative funding and doesn't call the Lege back until September, why should they come back?  If he backs off his threat, he's a spent force.  He's done; he's not worth the paper his name is printed on.

So Abbott is essentially threatening to cut off redistricting, which will be done by the GOP for the benefit of the GOP, for the next biennium.  GOP legislators will lose the staff that handles queries from voters.  The entire legislative branch goes cold.  Nothing happens after June 20th because, why bother?  Abbott calls the Lege back into session impotently.

It's not like all the Dems are working stiffs and every GOP legislator is independently wealthy.  As I say, they have jobs to do.  Cut off their staff in the months when the state needs to redistrict?  Sheer genius, I tells ya!

And he's gotta do this in three weeks, and call the Lege back to pass a new budget, which he will again veto if they don't give him what he wants, to infinity?

I think even the GOP legislators are not gonna back that play.  What if Abott vetoes the bill they do pass, and demands another, or no money for you!  How long can he play this game?

And I know the Lege has to pass a budget in the regular session; it's a state Constitutional requirement, the only one they have to meet in each regular session.  I'm not sure Abbott isn't inviting the intrusion of the State Supreme Court at some point.  I'm not sure of the constitutionality of passing new budget requirements in special sessions.  Because if they don't, or can't, the Legislature comes screeching to a halt.  For two years.   If Abbott makes good on his threat, he could effectively shut down the Texas government until 2023.  By that time, people will notice, even in a state where the Lege is gone more than they're in session.

I really don't think Abbott has thought this one through.

Helluva precedent, that's for damned sure.
It's a reasonable conjecture. Without it, his name is mud.

Memorial Day 2021: Still Respectfully Commemorate

Memorial Day didn't start as a day to honor veterans who "died for our freedom." Ironic, because the last war fought "for our freedom" before WWII, was the Civil War. We had a lot of wars in the 19th century, most of which we ignore: the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, the war in the Philippines, the war in Panama, all the imperialist efforts Mark Twain decried and Henry Thoreau protested. Memorial Day was not a day to remember we'd won our freedom at the expense of others; it was a day simply to remember dead family members, those who had died in the Civil War. It started with ladies in the South, after the Civil War.  They had done it before the war ended, and after the war they honored the Union dead as well as the Confederate dead.  They honored the living by honoring the dead.

Now we set aside the dead, except as abstractions who "won" our "freedom."  They "died for our freedom."  Is that what the crosses mean?

Bollocks. Our freedom wasn't threatened in Vietnam, or Korea, in the Persian Gulf, either time we fought there in the last 20 years. It wasn't threatened by the sinking of the Maine or in the Philippines, either. It was threatened in the Civil War, and Memorial Day came from that conflict. Memorial Day is simply a day to honor the dead. Perhaps we would better to limit it to the dead we know, and if we don't know any war dead, to be respectful of those who do. Perhaps we would do better to remember the uncut hair of graves, and to visit a graveyard and remember these dead were once as young and fair as you, or me.   I am old and cranky now, but I am sure we used to be more mature about these things.

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
used to be more mature about these things.

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.--Walt Whitman

"The beautiful uncut hair of graves." We used to put our graves beside our churches, so we knew where our dead were. Now in our sanitary ways, and our sanity, we keep them as far from the beaten path as possible; along with our hospitals, our nursing homes, our "funeral homes." We don't want to be reminded of death, unless it is on TV, and involves the death of "bad people." Or just the unknown faceless ones; not our friends; not our neighbors; not, ironically, our families.

The Gettysburg Address should be linked to Memorial Day, too. It was written, after all, to commemorate a graveyard, and the dead who died in battle and lay there now.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal"

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground -- The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
/> Lincoln praised those who died in a valiant struggle to preserve the union, to keep the nation from ending. "I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,/And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps./ What do you think has become of the young and old men?/What do you think has become of the women and children?" I think: "A wise man who speaks his mind calmly is more to be heeded than a commander shouting orders among fools." I think: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war, and one mistake can undo many things done well." (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18, NEB)

I think this is a day to praise famous women and men, and for believers to remember their Creator, and to honor the dead not for what they fought for, but because they, too, were God's children.

Let us now sing the praises of famous men,
all the heroes of our nation's history,
through whom the Lord established his renown,
and revealed his majesty in each succeeding age. Some held sway over kingdoms
and made themselves a name by their exploits.
Others were sage counsellors,
who spoke out with prophetic power.
Some led the people by their counsels
and by their knowledge of the nation's law;
out of their fund of wisdom they gave instruction.
Some were composers of music or writers of poetry.
Others were endowed with wealth and strength,
living peacefully in their homes.
All these won fame in their own generation
and were the pride of their times.
Some there are who have left a name behind them
to be commemorated in story.
There are others who are unremembered;
they are dead, and it is as though they had never existed,
as though they had never been born
or left children to succeed them.
Not so our forefathers; they were men of loyalty,
whose good deeds have never been forgotten.
Their prosperity is handed on to their descendants,
and their inheritance to future generations.
Thanks to them their children are within the covenants-
the whole race of their descendants.
Their line will endure for all time,
and their fame will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives for ever.
Nations will recount their wisdom,
and God's people will sing their praises.

--Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15, NEB

My uncle fought in World War II; with the French Resistance, if memory serves.  Or maybe not. Maybe that was a grand embellishment by the family, or my own early imagination.  He never said anything about the war, or about war, to me; except once.

I went to visit him after I'd married and his kids, my age, my cousins I all but grew up with, had all married, too.  So it was just my wife and I and my aunt and uncle.  He picked us up at the airport.  I was reading Studs Terkel's then new book "The 'Good' War."  The quotes around good weren't too apparent in the cover design, and he asked me what I was reading this time (in those days I was always reading).  When I showed it to him, and told him it was about World War II, he said, "I didn't think there was such a thing as a 'good' war."  And he smiled; the kind of smile that always made me think he knew much more about much more than I did, or ever would.  A smile of experience, but of deep, painful knowledge he would never unlock and share again.

My brother-in-law fought in Vietnam.  When everybody else was going to college so as not to get drafted, he volunteered.  He was Green Beret, and a Captain.  He never told me anything about Vietnam, either, except that when he first arrived there it was the most beautiful country he'd ever seen.  And within 10 minutes, he knew the U.S. had no business being there.  But he did his job; he followed orders.  He was a good soldier, and he's one of the finest men I know.  He's as kind, generous, and open-minded as anyone can be.

I have a recording of the "Airborne Symphony," by Marc Blitzstein.  Maybe it's the first performance, because the narrator is Orson Welles.  I always think of it this time of year, because the most poignant part of the libretto is the section about bombs, and the cities destroyed by planes.  It's "The Ballad of the Cities."  The narrator reads a partial list of cities destroyed by bombs, but the music moves into the "Morning Poem" with the chorus singing plaintively and repeatedly:  "Call the names.  Call the names.  Call the names."

It always seems to me the only appropriate observance of Memorial Day.  Call the names.


O Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon us.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.
Arise, O Christ, and help us,
And deliver us for thy Name's sake.


O Christ, when thou didst open thine eyes on this fair earth, the angels greeted thee as the Prince of Peace and besought us to be of good will one toward another; but thy triumph is delayed and we are weary of war.


O Christ, the very earth groans with pain as the feet of armed men march across her mangled form.


O Christ, may the Church, whom thou didst love into life, not fail thee in her witness for the things for which thou didst live and die.


O Christ, the people who are called by thy Name are separated from each other in thought and life; still our tumults, take away our vain imaginings, and grant to thy people at this time the courage to pro-claim the gospel of forgiveness, and faithfully to maintain the ministry of reconciliation.


O Christ, come to us in our sore need and save us; 0 God, plead thine own cause and give us help, for vain is the help of man.


O Christ of God, by thy birth in the stable, save us and help us;
By thy toil at the carpenter's bench, save us and help us;
By thy sinless life, save us and help us;
By thy cross and passion, save us and help us.


Then all shall join in the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

--The E&R Hymnal

Killer Bees Are Back!(?)

In the '70’s, during a special session, if memory serves, a group of Texas legislators (Dems, of course, and liberal ones), fled the state to deny the House a quorum. The Texas House rules are quite clear: no quorum, no vote; not even to suspend the rules to vote without a quorum.

And the clock is ticking. Remember Wendy Davis and the midnight hour? Sine die means sine die. The clock rules the Lege. In 5 minutes as I type, bills not passed are dead.The heinous Texas voting bill is dead.

If the GOP hadn’t gotten greedy they could have passed a very bad bill. Now they can’t pass any bill.

Will Gov. Absent put this on the agenda of a special session? He says he will. But that session will have to redistrict Texas. Each special session can only last 30 days. Whether they can redistrict in 30 days and pass the voting bill AND ignore Patrick’s screams for a trans-student bill and his other hobby horses is not all that likely. And of course the killer bees could strike again.

Governors don’t like special sessions. Redistricting has to happen. The rest doesn’t seem all that compelling., especially as the summer drags on.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

No Reasonable Person

Powell says Trump can be "reinstated" as President, and a new inauguration date set.  Oh, and Biden will be told to move out of the White House.

And then pigs will fly and water will flow uphill, and we'll all live happily together on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

She’s right in her court pleadings:  no reasonable person would believe this.  It certainly establishes that there aren’t any reasonable people in the crowd in Dallas.*

*And no, that's not a defense to libel.  When you accuse someone of felonious conduct, it doesn't matter if someone believes it or not; it's the accusation alone that is damaging.  Of course, if the plaintiff proves actual damages, then obviously somebody believed the libel, no matter how outrageous it was.  Either way, the defendant is boxed.

The Perennial Problem Of Peaking Too Early

Everybody knows the first ones in the pool are the first ones tossed out of the pool.

I Won't Mention This Tomorrow

FoxNews tried to trash VP Harris over her Memorial Day weekend tweet (wishing everyone a good 3 day weekend, on a weekend usually observed by sales at stores, and drinking beer). Outrage ensued. So, a reminder of the past four years: There was this, too.

Now, to wash the taste out of your mouth:

Everybody Knows

I'm not sure, but since come September you can carry a gun without a permit in Texas, I think you can just show your gun and vote without any further ID in Texas.

But not with a student ID.

At least, I expect it to work out that way.  Most of the election judges and clerks are elderly volunteers. They’re not going to argue with a man with a gun.  And it’s not fraud unless the guy votes for a Democrat.  Everybody knows that.

Oh, and according to the Supremes, the 15th Amendment doesn’t mean jack shit. Interferes with state's rights, or something....

Texas. Since February.

The Lege, in its infinite wisdom, passed a law banning the sale of wholesale electricity contracts to private individual consumers.

The largest such seller in Texas filed for bankruptcy in March.

Otherwise, they haven’t done jack shit.  Nor have they done anything for people who can’t find plumbers or electricians, because of the winter storm.

The market is a great, green god, and those who don’t worship at its altar are heretics; or just plain screwed.

Speaking of Texas:
I'm wide open to suggesetions on how to make this happen, short of replacing all the voters in Texas with computer programs or supporters of the Lincoln Project. Although I don't see any solution outside of those two proposals, either.

Serious Question

What standard of review would you have the courts set for Presidential movement?  When should the President’s movements be subjected to court review and control?  When you don’t like where he went?  How he got there?  What he did when he got there?  What party he was affiliated with? 

I despise what Trump did in Lafayette Square.  But by what standards do you declare Trump was wrong in what he did (or more precisely those who carried out orders to allow him to move) and all subsequent Presidents are not covered by your reasoning, unless you don’t like them, either?

Dear Penthouse Forum: My U.S. Representative Is An Idiot

And I have the tweets to prove it! "Spineless military commanders"? Shades of Trump; except Crenshaw has been in the military. And "Anonymous comments" in the intertoobs? What could go wrong? Don't worry, he's getting a lot of support: What did they expect was gonna happen?

Mark Cuban Is So Pwned!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Anybody Else Seeing A Pattern Here?

Health problems?  This guy?


Trump is confiding in allies that he intends to run again in 2024 with one contingency: That he still has a clean bill of health, two sources close to the ex-president have told me. Trump is going to dangle his potential bid over the GOP like a water balloon over a freshly styled head of hair.

Graham told "Axios on HBO" that a Trump comeback would be difficult because of his advancing age and eating habits.

"“I think for him, everything will depend on his health at that time. If he still has energy and strength like he does. I don't."

"You know the guy does not eat well, you know, and it's amazing the energy that he has."

"He's lost weight, fifteen pounds, Maybe. So he might be in good health and in good shape. I don't know."

Trump is already backing away from 2024.  He won't do it explicitly.  He'll do it because of his "health," that intangible, invisible factor that he can only confirm or deny, but never prove.  He won't wind up in a wheelchair (likely), or confined to bed; short of that, as long as he's upright and not wheezing with every step, his health is "good."

Although comparisons with Trump barely able to swing a golf club v. Biden on a bicycle are hardly in Trump's favor.

Trump would be 78 in 2024, the same age as Joe Biden in 2020. 

Yeah, he's already looking down the road, and whether that road includes incarceration or just one civil trial after another, he's tired of this.  He wants to play kingmaker because it requires so little of him.  He wants to campaign without actually running because the grift goes on. 

But he's already lookin for the exit ramp. 

"Objectivity, Balanced Points Of View, And Not Identifying Personal Positions On Controversial Issues"

"Objectivity, balanced points of view, and not identifying personal positions on controversial issues is part of Board policy. Board policy provides guidelines for Cobb students and staff to teach and learn about controversial issues and directs teachers to use classrooms to teach, not influence students towards any side of any political or partisan issue."

That's the unofficial statement of the school on the controversy.  They probably would have been better off going with "February's over, time to move on."  Although it leaves one wondering if they try to teach Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Or if they prefer to reduce Dr. King to a man who had a dream, and isn't that nice, kiddies?

I'm also unclear what the "personal positions on controversial issues" is with this door decoration.  Is there a counter-argument that the people named there deserved to die? Or is the controversy that black lives matter?

I Know We’re Doomed…

... I just can’t figure out whether it’s due to a minority of the voters, or because the politicians are so disconnected from their voters.

Friday, May 28, 2021

MLB Is A Nazi Socialist Commie Organization…

...that hates America 🇺🇸 and freedom!

Who knew?

Worth Noting

Besides: I was staying out of the Manchin-bashing, but: Shit, man, if that’s all you can say, do yourself a favor and shut up.

Who Wants Ice Cream? 🍦

But the pundits all live in the Beltway, or at least the BosWash, and regard the appearance of bi-partisanship as the highest good and the holy grail of Washington governance, because it is as rarely seen as the snark (hunting of). And the commission/investigation/what have you would never get any respect because the sniping about it being "partisan" would dominate the discussions/news reporting.

So we're stuck chasing chimeras and unicorns, forever.
See?  Now if there is a proper investigation at the Congressional level, it won't be one "we" agreed on, so what's the point?  The American Experiment is clearly over.  Right?  I mean, clearly. It was so fragile and harum-sacrum, all it took was one filibuster to do it in.

Nothing left to do now but get ice cream. Who wants ice cream? 

"Run In Circles, Scream And Shout!"

Problem. But no solution.

Texas will hold a special session (or two) this summer to redistrict.  Thanks to CJ Roberts, Texas can do this with impunity. O blessed year of Jubilee!  But the GOP controls the Texas House and Senate.  What, then, are the Democrats and Joe Biden to do about redistricting in Texas?  The only weapon they have is to run the clock out every 30 days (each session can last no longer than that).  Wendy Davis famously did that during one regular session; made national news for it.  The governor called a special session and the bill she  opposed passed handily.

So what do we do?  Count on the courts to redraw maps again?  Run in circles, scream and shout?  Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, and discourage Democratic voters with your pessimism?

If you don't have a solution, don't harangue us about how awful the problems are.

“This Guy Is A Disaster”

The GOP doesn't like Trump returning to rallies:

The problem: Since when has Trump ever stuck to policy? Most Republicans are expecting a rerun of the oldies: false claims of voter fraud, witch hunts and the like — only to be hounded by reporters for their comment on the outrage of the moment.

I, not surprisingly really, find myself agreeing with Adam Kinzinger:

“I do think that’s going to be fatiguing with people, and eventually folks besides the most hardcore are going to say, ‘Okay, it’s time to move on,’” he said. “My hope is that actually in those rallies, people realize this is starting to get nuts.”

Politico says:  "Yeah, well, maybe."

Yet for close to six years, Trump’s naysayers have predicted the GOP would finally say “enough already, this is nuts,” and move on. And he’s done nothing but prove them wrong. 

But 4 of those 6 years Trump was POTUS.  2 of those 6 years he was the newest freak in the national sideshow.  Four years exposure as the resident of the White House was enough for 81 million people, and 2/3rds of America has had enough of him.   Even Trump's rallies were beginning to fizzle by the fourth year (anybody else remeber the debacle that cost Trump's campaign chairman his job, and ended with him being hauled off by the cops?).

Trump will return to the stage with NEWT GINGRICH!  Not so much a blast from the past as another old white guy nobody wants to hear from.  Gingrich is also not a familiar figure to anybody under the age of 35 (probably under 40, to be honest*).  Trump's rallies are probably going to prove he's only popular with the shrinking cohort who was following him from city to city like the old Deadheads.  And even then I think the entertainment value is going to fall off sharply.  Trump is a one-trick pony, and that trick is about played out.

Besides, his campaign stiffed a lot of cities for those rallies; and he no longer has the office of the President behind him to coerce the arenas.  He's gonna have to pony up for that shit and charge admission.  And I think his sell-by date has just about passed.

I mean, where’s the upside?

Republicans are fighting the last election, and nobody’s with them.

Highground President and CEO Chuck Coughlin offered his analysis of the data.

Republicans are on an island when it comes to this audit," Coughlin explained. "Dwelling on the past is a dangerous proposition for the GOP's electoral future," Coughlin said. "Continued focus on this audit or the fraud narrative will only serve to undermine their electoral success in 2022."

"While it is to be expected that they would receive significant opposition from Democrats, this audit makes them face headwinds among independent and unaffiliated voters as well. As we have said before, 'never run the last election, run the election you are in now.' This issue is an electoral cul-de-sac that spells trouble for Republicans in 2022,” he argued.

And what are Trump’s upcoming rallies going to be about?  Not the bright, shiny future….

*In case you're wondering, that would be 50% of the population.  The two largest age groups in raw numbers are 26-29 and 55-59.  By 2024 both about half of members of both groups will move up a category.  The bulge in the snake may well carry over into the 30-34 group, but it may not move up as much in the 60-64 group, because despite the fact affluent whites are living longer, over all life expectancy in the U.S. has actually declined slightly.  So the "top end" where voters traditionally congregate may not swing the pendulum dominated by those under 40.

Army Of The Dead

It's kinda cute the way they think anybody who would take this nonsense seriously actually cares about "facts."

If all this moaning and gnashing of teeth and stupid "audits" has any real effect IRL, it will be to dissuade voters for Trump and the GOP from bothering to vote.

So long as the rest of us carry on.  

"Meanwhile, Republicans have moved from the 'big lie' that the election was stolen to a big voter-suppression crusade to big and farcical recounts," she noted. "So how is all that working out for Republicans? Not all that well. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, Democrats lead Republicans in the 2022 generic congressional poll by a healthy 9 points. In the most recent Morning Consult-Politico poll, Republicans in Congress have a net favorability rating of -19 (35 percent favorable vs. 54 percent unfavorable); Democrats have a +2 net favorability (47 percent favorable vs. 45 percent unfavorable). Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight's poll average gives Biden a +14 net approval."

"Republicans choose to seek solace in voter suppression schemes, which will not necessarily benefit them. (As the Associated Press reported, these legislative gambits might deter rural and elderly voters, part of the GOP's base, from voting while they enrage and mobilize the Democratic base,)" she explained.

In conclusion:

"Most of all, elected Republicans, like their supporters, increasingly reside in a right-wing media bubble, which helps confirm their beliefs that the country is outraged by a socialist agenda and in a frenzy about cultural and racial memes. Living in a right-wing world of make-believe might be emotionally gratifying, but it does not prepare the party to win elections in the real world," Rubin noted. "Republicans' rhetoric might be odious, their assault on democracy irresponsible and their political thinking delusional. But Republicans' approach might also be entirely counterproductive. So far, the poll data shows they are doing a bang-up job of alienating everyone but MAGA cultists. That's no way to win elections."

Basically, what Trump won't do to himself and the GOP, the GOP is doing.

That army of dead voters, are Trump voters.  And everybody knows dead people don't vote. 

Well, Unless Democrats Are For It...

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Why Is Biden Popular?

'Tis a mystery....

Honest (Not Just Smart-Ass) Question

Is he saying freedom "reigns," or that freedom should have "reins"?

I'm actually offering Kemp an out here, because he completely trashes the cliche, in a wholly Trump-esque manner (which must please the GOP "base"), but I think he's talking about "freedom reins."

Which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish entirely.  And really, a more interesting discussion than just pointing and laughing at the public figure who can't even spit out the pre-digested pap every schoolchild learns by heart.

We Need To Regulate Columnists*

Regulation for thee, but not for me.

*No, we can’t; but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Future’s So Bright

But none of the people paying attention to that will be on the jury (should it come to that). A criminal case is not something Trump can whine his way out of. That, and 2024 is an age away, in political terms. And nothing is going to stand still in the meantime. Whether she has or not, someone will by 2024. Once Sarah Palin wasn’t running for office (or holding one) she sank beneath your notice like a stone.

Well, That Explains A Lot

Been hearing about the dangers of "socialism" all my life. I had no idea the fear-mongering on it went back to the 19th century.

Thinking back on it, I shoulda known.

About That "Trump Running For POTUS From Prison/A Courtroom"

I'll just leave that right there. Although, while we're on the subject of Trump: And. to be perfectly clear: Four years, as I say, is a long time. A lot can happen.

In A Perfect World....

Sure. But we live in this world: So the merest hint of credence given to "It Came From The Laboratory!" and anti-Asian sentiment/assaults on people who "look" Asian (let's face it, it's what the bigots and the stupid go on) would take off like a bottle rocket.  Not to mention still more screaming about the "Communist Party of China," and all kinds of demands we "do something" to them.  I mean, do you watch the White House daily briefings? And that's the third day in a row for Doocy. He's like the old inflated clown with a weighted base: knock him over, he bounces back up again.  So sure, let's forget facts and behave like covid-19 escaped from a lab in China.

What could go wrong?*

*Yes, I understand the argument from a scientific/public health/security of viruses point of view.  I don't have to read the article to imagine the proposition.  But given how poorly public health issues are faring in the country right now, who doesn't see this proposal as throwing a lit match into the gasoline?
Because, yeah, this will help a lot.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Inquiring Minds Want To Know!

Well, maybe.... In matters of differences of opinion between non-lawyers and lawyers on legal matters, my money is on the lawyers' opinions. That said, no lawyer worth her/his salt will assure you Trump is going to jail. And issue that raises another interesting question: On the upside, we might finally get a President impeached and removed from office. Or we'd get the Mother of All Constitutional Crises because the Senate refuses to convict, thumbing their nose at the entire criminal justice system. Of course, this nightmare scenario assumes Trump could run a political campaign while either appearing in a criminal trial (he'd have to attend), or from a prison cell.

Keep reminding yourself 4 years is a long time off, and Trump really doesn't have the political chops for it.  He managed to lose as the incumbent, when incumbents, statistically, are shoo-ins for re-election.  Yeah, voters in House districts sometimes re-elect the crook, (which illustrates the power of incumbency), but how often does that happen for a Senator, on a statewide basis?  And nationwide?

I don't think that many people will stay home if Trump is on the ticket again.  And by "people" I don't mean Trump supporters.  That turnout for Biden (Joe Biden!) is consistently overlooked.  How many of those people just showed up to make sure the "other guy" didn't win again?

You discount that effort at your prediction's peril.

Do We Decry Any Use Of the "N word"?

Or not?

It's not a simple calculus.  But any creeping retun of very public racism:
Should be exposed and condemned. Of course, it matters who is doing the condemning, and how: Just as there is a difference between a cat peeing on the bed, and a cat shredding the curtains and the furniture in the house, while using the bedding as a scratching post and the mattress as a litter box.

Because I can tell you from experience that once the cat pees outside the litter box, they will continue to pee in that spot, or find other spots, to pee; all outside the litter box.  Ignoring the cat while they do this, makes no difference to the cat; and alters not one jot its behavior.

Condemnation from GOP House leaders is pretty useless.  Censure of Greene would be more effective.  Will the House GOP, en masse, refuse to censure Greene's beyond the pale remarks?  Censure is also probably the most serious punishment Greene would receive.  I know some people call for expulsion, but in the history of the House, only five members have ever been expelled.   Three because they supported the Confederate rebellion in 1861 and 1862, and two because they were convicted of bribery and/or other crimes.  So either you support treason, or you are convicted of a "high crime." Convicted, as in, you'll be repesenting your constituents from a jail cell.  Less than that, the House has not seen fit to remove you.

The last Senators removed from the Senate were all due to the Confederate rebellion.  Even Tailgunner Joe was only censured; but it was enough to end his political career.  I imagine MTG would wear her censure as a badge of honor and fundraise some more off of it.  Maybe the House could consider not seating her if she's re-elected.

I'm not sure what else they could do, or would be willing to do.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol:
This is what Sen. Cotton tweeted: And somehow "Communist Party of China" and "CCP" are the approved ways of referencing China? Are all the voters in the GOP over the age of 70?  And scared of black people?


These are all three very bad ideas.

The problem with swatting at transgender students is obvious, first from a moral/ethical point of view:
There's also the aspect of trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I read that Alabama wants (or has passed?) such a law. There is one transgender student in all of Alabama that law would protect the rest of Alabama from. Texas has a larger population than Alabama, so probably a larger number of transgender students. But do we need a law to protect the rest of us from their attempts to be regular schoolchildren?

But the clinker in there is not obvious: taxpayer funded lobbyists.  This is not a noble effort to protect taxpayers from funding lavish dinners and more lavish gifts on legislators via lobbyists.  It's the Lege's effort to get cities and counties and school districts (all independent government entities, to one degree or another) to leave them alone so they can do as they like.

School districts large enough to afford lobbyists hire them to report on what's going on in Austin during the session, and to advocate for their points of view, or just let them know when and where they need to send people (usually school superintendents, who are technically using tax money to advocate for public education) to hearings to make their voices heard.  Is that for, or against, the interests of the people?  You may find a particular issue to be not to your liking:  you may think, for example, no child should wear a mask at school, and schools should be "open" and campuses full of people; or you may think no one should be on the campus and those who are should be wearing hazmat suits.  Opinions differ, and if you think I'm exaggerating for effect; I'm not.  Now, whose interest in this fight is the "people's" interest?  And if the schools are lobbying for more equitable funding via state revenues, is that in the people's interests, or not?  Most people in Texas have no idea how school funding is accomplished, and most of the ideas they do have are wrong.  Do they pay attention to school funding bills in Austin every two years?  Somebody has to, and the schools have found, for their and the sake of the children, that they have to do it.  Are they all that effective?  No, actually.  Should they not be allowed to try?  Absolutely, says I.

Then again, I'm a Texas Democrat, and it was the Democrats in the House who bottled up those three bills until it was too late for the House to consider them (the calendar in a 5 month session once every two years pretty much runs the session, donchaknow?).

Will this come back up in a special session?  Don't hold your breath:
Governors don't like special sessions because they have to call them, and voters know special sessions cost more money.  Governors don't like to be the individual costing the taxpayers more money.  There will be a special session for redistricting because the census numbers won't be official soon enough; that will be forgiveable.  But there won't be time in that session to tack on these three bills, and calling a second special session just for those bills, is probably not going to happen.  One special session every two years is allowable.  More than that, is practically heretical.  And besides, the Lege didn't really do anything about the state's electric grid, and we'll be reminded of that in a few months when brownouts and rolling blackouts return.  Nobody'll freeze to death, but Texans hate losing their A/C even more than they hate losing their heat in winter.

If any special session could be justified, aside from redistricting (which we will grudgingly accept as the cost of having a government), it would be to fix, once and for all, the problem of electricity in Texas.  Needless to say, nobody's holding their breath waiting for that one.

The Two Faces Of The Modern GOP

Proving a negative is bad:

"This is a vendetta," he insisted. "It should be illegal if it isn't illegal for a prosecutor to conduct a witch hunt investigation trying to find crime on you. Pick somebody. Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump. I'm going to look at his whole life and see if I can pin a crime on him. That's what they're doing to Donald Trump."

"We investigate crimes that lead to people. We don't just investigate people," the former mayor continued. "That happens in a dictatorship. And don't tell me we're not headed in that direction. We're headed in the direction of a dictatorship."


Proving a negative is good:

During the interview, Fann asked Lah -- who was supposed to be the person asking questions -- if she could prove that no dead people voted for President Joe Biden in Arizona and that Biden supporters didn't fill out ballots on behalf of other people.

"I'm saying what the data shows us, there was no widespread fraud," Lah replied.

"I didn't say there was fraud!" Fann replied, despite the fact that she implied Biden fraudulently won in her state.
Lah then listed off all of the concerns Fann raised and informed her that "these things are all fraud."

"Well, I asked you a question," Fann said. "Can you tell me that, in all the states, no ballots from people that are already deceased were not filled out and sent in?"

"I can tell you that what the data has shown is, overwhelmingly, this was the most secure election," Lah replied.

Later in the interview, Fann tried to slap away complaints that the election audit was not transparent by noting it was being broadcast on the Trump-loving One America News network.

Lah pointed out that OAN controlled all the cameras inside the audit and could edit out footage that the auditors don't want people to see.

"Are you saying OAN is not a credible news source?!" Fann asked incredulously.

And yes, I'd have started a GoFundMe account if Lah had responded:  "Yes, absolutely.  That's exactly what I'm saying!"

And in the Still Doesn't Know How Any of This Works category, taking home the prize for nuttiest GOP hanger-on:
Lindell once again predicted that the Supreme Court will rule 9-0 within the next six weeks to "pull this election down." "You're going to have Brian Kemp and Doug Ducey front and center," he promised. "Tell us why you did this, Doug and Brian. And I can't wait for that day when MSNBC goes, you know what? We said it was just a conspiracy but it looks like it's all true. China attacked our country through the [voting] machines... They're all going to have to answer."

No News Is Purely Good

I wish I could simply agree. However, my sentiments lie elsewhere: I'm not sure we were every any better at this, but we're considerably worse at it now. Maybe the brief, shining moment in the '60's when we actually seemed rational (counter-point: "The Best and The Brightest") was just an aberration in our national history. More and more, I think it was.

Then again, that "rationality" was mostly the hegemony of WASP's, so there's that.

Voting Integrity Is Much Lower… Democratic areas. I mean, look who they vote for! OTOH, this is what we get anyway: Because, you know, government is the problem. Which is doing its part to protect the majority from the minority. And behold the power of the people and the governor: And what this state needs is more reasons to vote often, if not early: If only there were a 2nd Amendment for voting!

MTG: A Saga In Tweets

Wonder which part made her think she should retract it?  I mean, it's not like she ever knows what she's talking about: Or that she isn't an international embarassment: Still, she speaks for "average Americans," right?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Theseus' Ship v. The Department of Justice

So everybody on Twitter is suddenly a legal expert (again) and people who wish they were lawyers (or wish they were legal scholars, if they are lawyers) are buzzing about pontificating on what's going on in court with the DOJ and the Mueller report. And it's producing, not light, but mud: Shaub's argument is with what DOJ is trying to prevent.  He has a lot of problems with you people ("you people" being the DOJ), but that's an argument I don't think we can really have on Twitter, because the legal issues are too complex, and Shaub mostly just quotes Jackson's order and adds more heat than light.  The DOJ not agreeing with the Judge does not mean the DOJ is wrong or even pernicious.  That's part of the point of emptywheel's tweet, because people are jumping to all kinds of conclusions that are entirely unwarranted.
The argument before the court is about releasing the entirety of a memorandum opinion.  What the DOJ is appealing is that ruling.  What they are not challenging is the release of portions of that opinion which are discussed in Judge Jackson's memorandum opinion (that's what I'm getting from reading these tweets, mind.).  So, in part, this is not a major revelation; but also in part, this is not a major obstruction of the "right to know."  So I'm a bit confused as to what Walter Shaub's problem is, especially the parts where the DOJ has to abandon arguments previously made, and even admit it previously (as an institution, mind) made some bald-faced misrepresentations.  I do seem to remember the DOJ had this problem previously under Trump, when several DOJ attorneys had to withdraw from a case where they were being pressured to misrepresent the law and the facts to the court. (Found it!  The Census cases in 2019, on the matter of putting a citizenship question in.) So we've been down this road once or twice before, and the DOJ now is between Scylla and Charybdis:  on one hand trying to clean up the mess Barr made, on the other trying to preserve the institution of the DOJ.  Which, yes, raises the institutional problem of the "DOJ," which raises a sorta question of identity metaphysics*.

You know the stuff:  if you preserve Theseus' ship as a memorial by repairing and replacing parts over a long history, eventually you've replaced every part of it, and the question arises:  is it still Theseus' ship? (although more accurately the question is "What does it mean to call it "Theseus's ship"?)  So if you replace the AG with a new AG, and new assistant AG's (or deputies, or whatever they call the people right below the AG), have you replaced the DOJ?

Well, obviously not.  The idea of the DOJ is that it is not changed by a change in leadership; not fundamentally changed, I mean.  The ship is still a ship, even if no part of it ever felt the tread of Theseus, anymore.  And since "Theseus' ship" is actually the name of a memorial, is the memorial no longer a memorial if it is no longer in every part the original ship? (yeah, the "paradox" is based on a category error).  So the DOJ is still the DOJ, even if Bill Barr ran it up on the rocks and left it there during the hurricane as he helicoptered away.  He was a lousy captain, but does that give us salvage rights to the ship, including the right of plunder?

Some says yes, and some says absolutely!
There you go: helpful advice from a random Twitter user who has no connection to the DOJ whatsoever (or probably any experience in government service, any training in law, etc., etc., etc.).  The people unburdened with knowledge always have the best understanding of the solution to the problem.

So what is the DOJ up to?  I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the DOJ is doing what it thinks is best for the continuing function of the DOJ. I'm also gonna say this is not a position they are happy with, and that there are institutional reasons for the position they have taken which have nothing to do with covering Bill Barr's considerably large exposure.  Then again I've read apologias both considerably legally and institutionally arcane, as well as those very politically arcane.  And I've decided those people have no more idea than I do what the justification for DOJ's posture on this is, except it's clearly not so simple as all the knee-jerk reactions would have you believe.

And that's the part I want to pay attention to:  ignore the screeching from the peanut gallery, and pay attention to what DOJ is actually saying, viz: Ah, you see? That's a different kettle of fish entirely. Now we may be getting somewhere! So, the stated DOJ posture (now; yes, elections and changes of AG do have consequences; everybody take a deep breath, this isn't a TV show where the problems are raised and solved in 45 minutes, with commercials) is that Mueller screwed the pooch and opened a loophole Barr could drive a Mack truck through, and Barr happily took that option.  Here, let me emphasize it for you:  "In doing so, Barr rejected Mueller’s “fairness” theory/argument. What we see from Garland’s DOJ’s filing is that they reject it, too." 

I'm still not sure where that put's Garland's DOJ on the prosecution of Trump, or on any of the legal issues (which I'm also not clear about) raised by this action by the DOJ.  I think this is a legal argument they are obliged to pursue. Some sources indicate there is a question of a particular type of privilege involved, one allowing confidential consideration of legal theories, strategies, and postures to be conducted by the DOJ, not just by any Administration in charge of the DOJ at any moment.  Part of the question of identity metaphysics here is, who's DOJ is it?  Theseus' ship was his while he captained it, but once he died it became a memorial.  The memorial is "Theseu's ship," but is that label a designation, or a recognition of the rightful owner?  If the former, does the possessive not make it still a posession of the person named?  It is not longer Barr's DOJ; but it is still the DOJ.

The question of Mueller's actions, and the actions of Barr in response to Mueller, are more particular and, I dare say, more pertinent.  Screaming and yelling about what you think the DOJ is doing is one thing:  it generally makes you feel important if you scream the loudest and everyone listens to your argument (or screaming, more accurately).  But actually paying attention to what the DOJ is arguing, and what the judge is arguing, is a great deal more helpful.**  

*No, I'm still not convinced that's a "thing," but it's a handy bag to put some concepts into, so we'll use it here regardless.

**And there is some interesting speculation on whether this position is going to put pressure on Garland to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice.  Again, a much more interesting question than why the DOJ is arguing with the trial judge about the release of certain documents.