October 19, 2017

Annals of Ineradicable Stain

Judge won't wipe out guilty verdict for Arpaio Trump pardon ends criminal case but can't "revise historical facts," court says.

—Josh Gerstein, Politico October 19, 2017

[Previously]

October 07, 2017

Annals of Defamation

Ralph Northam,who is running for Governor of Virginia,is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs

— Donald Trump, Tweet, October 5, 2017

1. A defamatory statement;

2. Published to a third party;

3. Which the speaker knew or should have known was false;

4. That causes injury to the subject of the communication

October 05, 2017

Define Your Left Beyond This Point

An unwillingness to engage with conservative thought, an aversion to debate, and a weakened committment to free speech are among the failures of the left.

Jill Lepore, "Inquietude" The New Yorker, October 9, 2017

I hold Jill Lepore in high esteem, but this is just twaddle. There is no conceivable "the left" that's ever shied away from arguing endlessly, with or without conservatives.

And should an argument be closed off, finished, done with, resolved, the left will satisfy its arguing elsewhere on other subject matter: every subject deserves its argument, to the left.

Oh, but the left will with bad grace revisit arguments it's done with. True, the left will rail, not argue, against bringing up Nazi talk, but Nazi talk is no longer subject to the rules of reasoned argument. There is no longer cause for debate. That's over, resolved in word and deed. It's a settled thing. Response to Nazi talk must not come in the form of an argument. That would be redundant to the left.

September 22, 2017

A Modestly Humane Proposal

Clearly the the vast majority of Puerto Ricans need a haven to retreat to while their island undergoes the months of massive repairs recently made necessary by Hurricane Maria. I suggest that Texas is the ideal repository for the two million or so displaced Puerto Ricans the storm has left in its wake. Texas is the largest state with the largest population and by far the largest economy of any of the states within hailing distance of Puerto Rico, and thus best suited for the admittedly burdensome task of providing services for this unexpected addition to its population.

Relocating a few million Puerto Ricans to Texas on humanitarian grounds for the next few years would be in the best interests of our nation. We should support any effort to further this end.

September 08, 2017

Capitalism 101

Joseph Loughran is listed president of the opaquely named US information solutions, a division of Equifax, the credit score people.

On July 29 of this year, it became apparent that a security breach had allowed outsiders months of access to Equifax's consumer credit information, files on somewhere in the neighborhood of 145 million Americans, containing pretty granular stuff collected by Equifax to create a baseline for deciding if a given consumer is good for another round of credit.

On September 7, Equifax publicly admitted the breach, causing its stock to dive.

On August 1, on the other hand, Joseph Loughran, the president of US information solutions, sold what Equifax stock he owned for $584,099.

September 05, 2017

DACA

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel. Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

Barack Obama, President

Multiple Pinocchios Cannot Tell Half The Politicfacts Of It

Reviewing these first months of the Trump presidency calls to mind this previously posted photo, sharing a ruinousness between them.

Mostly Harmful

September 03, 2017

Walter Becker, February 20, 1950 – September 3, 2017

Admittedly the locus classicus of the musical trend lampooned so fondly by Yacht Rock, Walter Becker's band Steely Dan placed more and more layers of sonic embroidery on their recorded music as the years went by, not allowing an aural cranny to be overlooked where a pair or so of complementary arpeggios might comfortably fit. The marvel is that with Becker and Donald Fagan and half the sessions musicians in LA working on the Steely Dan product, they managed to pull together so many wonderfully accomplished pieces.

August 31, 2017

Good Dog

Sugar the Dog, R.I.P.

August 29, 2017

The Quality of Mercy

Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio interrupts an ongoing judicial process in federal court involving the ex-sheriff and, well, the federal court itself.

Arpaio's trouble was caused by his flouting the federal court's direct instructions: the court told "Sheriff Joe" what he needed to do and what he needed to stop doing, and he ignored the court and went on doing things the cruel stupid way he'd been doing them for years.

Implicit in Trumps' act was the assumption that the executive's Article II pardoning power in this case is inherently greater than the adjudicating powers of the judiciary under Article III.

Now, a presidential pardon may apply balm to the lash of criminal guilt that attaches to the individual accepting it, but a pardon does not carry with it the power to deny the court, the federal third-branch-of-government court in particular, any level of review, and indeed judgement, it should chose to bestow on the matter. That's not something it's in the power of the pardon to stop.

“He was extremely distressed with the mischaracterization of the conviction,” [Arpaio's attorney] Goldman said. “It was extremely hurtful and upsetting to him that it was being reported that he was convicted of racial profiling."

“The sheriff is not a racist and has never been a racist, and any type of such accusation was upsetting and extremely distressing to him,” Goldman said.

The racial profiling lawsuit was brought in civil court by the American Civil Liberties Union. The judge trying that case not only found that Arpaio's policies constituted racial profiling, he also found Arpaio to be in civil contempt of court and referred him to another judge for the criminal contempt.

—Kiefer and Wingett Sanchez, Judge won't vacate former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt conviction without oral arguments, AZCentral.com, August 29, 2017.

In this nation it is enough to be a lifelong avowed racist and commit treason in defense of slavery to qualify for a statue downtown celebrating the noble Southern heritage of, well, racism and treason.

Arpaio's racism of the deed was duly noted by the court, which, according to his attorney, distresses Sheriff Joe. Admitted racism has become déclassé. What a difference a civil war makes.

August 28, 2017

Politifaction

In the first eight months of the Trump presidency, norms are being violated so frequently that it's hard, in the inevitable glare of the next new enormity in line, to pay particular attention to the fine spreading network of cracks accumulating in the body politic as a result of all this malignant activity.

August 22, 2017

On Many Sides. Many Sides

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn resigned his position as special adviser to President Donald Trump on Friday, saying he didn’t want “partisan bickering” to cloud the work of the administration.

—David Benoit, Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2017

Carl Ichan did what he came to Washington to do, and having done it, smartly absconded.
Cleverly, the WSJ's story of Ichan's perceived conflict of interest swallows itself into visual nothingness, Cheshire-Cat-like before the eye of the beholder

August 18, 2017

When Life Imitates Wes Anderson

At the start of the Great Depression in 1929, Maria Theresa engaged two people presenting themselves as "Colonel Townsend" and "Princess Baronti" to sell the necklace for US$450,000. Realising that the current economic conditions would make it almost impossible to reach the asking price, the pair began offers at $100,000, signing on Archduke Leopold of Habsburg, the destitute grandnephew of Maria Theresa, to vouch for the necklace's authenticity. Deals were negotiated with the jewelers Harry Winston and Harry Berenson, but eventually the pair sold the necklace to David Michel of New York City for $60,000, of which the pair claimed $53,730 as expenses. When informed of the sale, Maria Theresa took the matter to court, eventually resulting in the recovery of the necklace, the jailing of Archduke Leopold, and the flight of Townsend and Baronti from the authorities.

The Napoleon Diamond Necklace

August 17, 2017

The Evolution of the Psychology of Water Cooler Chat From Quip to 30-Page Exegesis 1870-2017

Now that the proposed country-wide March on Google has been postponed in the aftermath of Charlottesville, it may be useful to spend time otherwise wasted paying attention to that by reading a take on the situation from Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber.

August 15, 2017

Call the Ad Council

This ad is chasing me around the internet, the one in the rectangle below Don Baylor's stats, the one that asks "What is x if the square root of the sum of x and 15 added to the square root of x is revealed to be 15?"

This is a relatively trivial math problem and I'm not sure why brilliant, its creator, thinks I care enough about mathematics to want to be asked about it over and over, but brilliant's ad team keeps planting it on pages I'm visiting.

So enough. Stop. 49. Let it rest.

He Is Unfit to Be President

Let's hear it for the 25th Amendment.

August 08, 2017

Diplomacy!

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before," he said.

Immediately following this pronouncement, North Korea let it be known it's seriously considering a strike on Guam, a major American presence in East Asia.

So, President Trump warned the North Koreans that a nuclear holocaust awaited them if they made any more threats, and immediately North Koreans responded by doing just that.

This is what's known as calling a bluff in diplomacy.

August 07, 2017

Surreal Estate News

Go ahead, pay $90,000 for an acre or so of San Francisco. Hijinks ensue.

July 23, 2017

Post Lateral Left

It’s also worth noting that for all their fame, not only did Berkman really accomplish nothing but Goldman didn’t either. They never connected with actual workers movements, nor did they become involved in the IWW, which certainly welcomed leading anarchists as organizers and propagandists. They were independent operators and are massively overrated as historical figures, especially Goldman, who used her fame to give speaking tours that made her a good bit of money and avoided the hard work of organizing.

—Eric Loomis, Lawyers, Guns & Money, July 23, 2017

Being massively overrated is the thing about historical figures, though. The underrated go unreported, as they say.

July 22, 2017

American Modal is Ordinal Number to Noun

American Might Is Second To None

American Shant is Fourth with a bullet

American Ought is Fifteenth and dropping.

July 03, 2017

Breaking Science Update

The Higgs boson is too evanescent to ever be glimpsed directly. The Higgs boson may be detected by carefully examining its remains. Its prior existence is inferred from its wrack.

June 28, 2017

This Week in Depositions

It would seem the recent roundly covered Saudi conflict with Qatar is a feint, a fight picked by the Saudis to deflect regional attention from a concomitant grab for power inside Saudia Arabia itself, by the current king's son, Mohammed bin Salman, who has stripped the standing crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, of the title and assumed it for himself. This most likely recapitulates moves made countless times in countless prior dynasties around the world, as one actor or another forces the issue. And so, yes, Mohammed bin Salman's acts are politically, a cliché. The grab for rule. This is how dynastic struggles play out, often enough. Regionally, everyone watches Qatar while this unfolds inside Saudi Arabia. Oh, monarchy.

June 26, 2017

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Moreover, the report said, premiums for older people would be much higher under the Senate bill than under current law. As an example, it said, for a typical 64-year-old with an annual income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 for a midlevel silver plan, after subsidies, would average $6,500, compared with $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act. And the insurance would cover less of the consumer’s medical costs.

Kaplan and Pear, NYT, June 26, 2017

June 22, 2017

Unabridged 2, A President Thinks About Health Care For Americans

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible. At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.

—Barack Obama on Facebook

June 16, 2017

Bloomsday No. 1

The date was 16 June, 1954, and though it was only mid-morning, Brian O'Nolan was already drunk.

This day was the fiftieth anniversary of Mr. Leopold Bloom's wanderings through Dublin, which James Joyce had immortalised in Ulysses.

To mark this occasion a small group of Dublin literati had gathered at the Sandycove home of Michael Scott, a well-known architect, just below the Martello tower in which the opening scene of Joyce's novel is set. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown.

Sadly, no-one expected O'Nolan to be sober. By reputation, if not by sight, everyone in Dublin knew Brian O'Nolan, otherwise Myles na Gopaleen, the writer of the Cruiskeen Lawn column in the Irish Times. A few knew that under the name of Flann O'Brien, he had written in his youth a now nearly forgotten novel, At Swim-Two-Birds. Seeing him about the city, many must have wondered how a man with such extreme drinking habits, even for the city of Dublin, could have sustained a career as a writer.

—Peter Costello and Peter van de Kamp, quoted at Open Culture

June 14, 2017

Mot Noted

Influence is not a kind of copying, it is permission unexpectedly received to do things in new ways, to broach new content, to tell stories by way of forms you never knew you were allowed to use.

—Frederick Jameson, LRB Vol.39 No.12

June 05, 2017

To Reality: Thank You For Your Service

The gist: Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November's presidential election …

A consultant to the government has acquired the secret government assessment of Russian election hacking, released it to the media, and been arrested.

May 31, 2017

Because This Speech Should Be Repeated Unabridged Throughout The Land

Thank you for coming.

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way — for both good and for ill. It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans — the Choctaw , Houma Nation, the Chitimacha . Of Hernando de Soto , Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle , the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Colorix, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of France and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see - New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America's largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture . America was the place where nearly 4000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined 'separate but equal'; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions; why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame... all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.

For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them." So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let's start with the facts.

The historic record is clear, the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This 'cult' had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone's lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous 'corner-stone speech' that the Confederacy's "cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth."

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears ... I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us. And make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago — we we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it. President Obama said, "Consider what this artifact tells us about history ... on a stone where day after day for years, men and women ... bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men."

A piece of stone — one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored. As clear as it is for me today ... for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans' most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family's long proud history of fighting for civil rights ... I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.

I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes. Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl's eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple questions. When you look into this child's eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can't walk away from this truth.

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is however about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and yes with violence.

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future. History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person's humanity seems perverse and absurd. Centuries old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth. We are better together than we are apart.

Indivisibility is our essence. Isn't this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world? We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.

All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush's words, "A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them."

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say 'wait'/not so fast, but like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "wait has almost always meant never." We can't wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.

No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don't change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America's greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said, "I've never looked at them as a source of pride ... it's always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don't respect us. This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. It's a sign that the world is changing." Yes, Terence, it is and it is long overdue. Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin's remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves — at this point in our history — after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado — if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces ... would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city's history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all ... not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in ... all of the way. It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions . After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed. So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. "If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation's humanity." So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans' Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.

Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds ... to do all which may achieve and cherish — a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Thank you.

—New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, May 19, 2017

May 29, 2017

Otter in Mid Harbor

Two humans engrossed in each other, as seen by a nearby sea otter, Santa Cruz Harbor, May 2017

April 30, 2017

The Explainerator

You see, it's the subject of the interview who's facing the nation. That's you. You face the nation. Or, deface, given druthers. It's up to you.

April 29, 2017

Attendance Update

Today in Crowds

Let it never be said that Donald Trump avoided the temptation to exaggerate the size of his

Previously

April 17, 2017

Lest We Forget

I'm not quite sure what prompted this, but who cares? I will never forget that FBI Director James Comey was responsible for Donald Trump, and here's yet another example that illustrates this. It's the basic Pollster chart showing Trump's favorability rating:

After the release of the Comey letter, Trump's favorability shot up six points. It's dipped slightly since then, but only by a few hairs. In over a year of campaigning, only one thing had a serious impact on the presidential race. James Comey.

—Kevin Drum,Mother Jones

April 16, 2017

Syriac ack ack

"The President’s erratic approach to Syria is not a strategy," Senator Elizabeth Warren said.

"Within a week, Trump’s Admin went from asserting they wouldn’t intervene to launching Tomahawk missiles against Assad. That’s erratic."

Elizabeth Warren blasts Trump's erratic handling of Syria, Raw Story

Following the President's unilateral decision to throw $100 million dollars worth of ordnance in the form of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airport in Syria, Senator Warren wonders whether any consideration at all of the strategic value of such a stroke was undertaken by the Trump Administration prior to the attack.

Clearly certain tactical considerations were made prior to launch. A decision to alert the Russians, for example, who had troops in the area to be bombed, encouraged them to stay well clear of the target. A courtesy call, as it were.

The Russians alerted the Syrians immediately, of course, so they were able to remove troops and materiel from the scene as well.

The American strike was quite careful to avoid targeting buildings on the airport thought to house chemical weapons recently used by the Syrian regime on its own people.

The Syrian Air Force sent out a sortie from the airfield the very next day to bomb the same place that had been gassed the week before.

That is to say, the attack had, purposely, no tangible goal. It did not seek to achieve the normal military reward of imposing dominance through the organized obliteration of the objective's ability to resist.

It did achieve the destruction of 20% of something, per media reports, with referents made to 20% of the Syrian Air Force, or 20% of one of the wings of the Syrian Air Force, or 20% of the aircraft at the targeted airport, or 20% of the targets of 59 Tomahawk missiles or maybe just 20 planes. Twenty, though.

The strike killed a handful of people, who may or may not have been party to the supposed chemical attack launched from the airport. Regrets have not been forthcoming from the United States.

March 21, 2017

Our Self-Styled Ignorant Man, Currently Recused

Several of the President-Elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?

RESPONSE: No.

The Sessions Sessions

Well, but yes, of course, technically, yes. Then-Senator Sessions was on the Trump Election Committee dime when he met with Russia's ambassador to the United States, someone famously connected to the Russian government, in person at the Republican National Convention, which no one denies was all about the 2016 election, so, well, hmm. A simple "no" in answer to this question is simply untrue. As writing is a calculated act this, a written response to a question written by Senator Leahy, is presumptively a calculated deceit.

Or, perhaps he didn't realize the ambassador was connected to the government. Maybe Jeff Sessions thought the ambassador was like valet parking at the fancy hotels, the doorman out front with the epaulets and gloves, ushering traffic in and out of his country.

Its's hard to adequately evaluate what an ignorant venal fuck Jeff Sessions may be, based on the record, although in his Senate confirmation hearing he had clearly gone to the trouble of memorizing a set of sentences attesting to his complete cluelessness in case after case, which he avowed dozens of times in his testimony. He took an emolument from an institute run by a crazed Islamophobe, Frank Gaffney. When pressed in Senator Leahy's questionnaire to disavow the sort of stuff spewed by Gaffney, such as insisting that Obama is guilty of treason, Sessions relied, "While I do not hold the views that this question attributes to Mr. Gaffney, I have no knowledge of whether he actually said these remarks or in what context."

"I have not and will not associate myself with any racially insensitive or discriminatory remarks made by anyone. I have no knowledge of the information on which CPAC relied in forming their opinion of the gentleman in question."

…I am not aware of facts that would support the assertions made in the above question and an unable to opine on this matter.

—Jeff Sessions responding to a question by Senator Patrick Leahy

The sun rose at 7:08 this morning, Senator Sessions…

…I am not aware of facts that would support the assertions made in the above question and an unable to opine on this matter.

You doubt the sun rose this morning?

I must have been asleep. Therefore, I am not aware of facts that would support the …

GAAHH!!

March 05, 2017

Today's Weather

A Hailful Afternoon's Worth of Winter Weather,  Santa Cruz, CA, March 5, 2017

March 03, 2017

Annals of Confirmation

e. Several of the President-Elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?

RESPONSE: No.

The Sessions Sessions

Well, but yes, of course, technically, yes. Then-Senator Sessions was on the Trump Election Committee dime when he met with Russia's ambassador to the United States, someone famously connected to the Russian government, in person at the Republican National Convention, which no one denies was all about the 2016 election, so, well, hmm. A simple "no" in answer to this question is simply untrue. As writing is a calculated act this, a written response to a question written by Senator Leahy, is presumptively a calculated deceit.

Or, perhaps he didn't realize the ambassador was connected to the government. Maybe Jeff Sessions thought the ambassador was like valet parking at the fancy hotels, the doorman out front with the epaulets and gloves, ushering traffic in and out of his country.

Its's hard to adequately express what an ignorant venal fuck Jeff Sessions may be, based on the record, although from evidence in his in his Senate confirmation hearing he had clearly gone to the trouble of memorizing a set of sentences attesting to his personal cluelessness in case after case, which he avowed dozens of times in his testimony.

He took an emolument from an institute run by a crazed Islamophobe, Frank Gaffney. When pressed in Senator Leahy's written questionnaire to disavow the sort of stuff spewed by Gaffney, such as insisting that Obama is guilty of treason, Sessions replied, "While I do not hold the views that this question attributes to Mr. Gaffney, I have no knowledge of whether he actually said these remarks or in what context."

"I have not and will not associate myself with any racially insensitive or discriminatory remarks made by anyone. I have no knowledge of the information on which CPAC relied in forming their opinion of the gentleman in question."

…I am not aware of facts that would support the assertions made in the above question and an unable to opine on this matter.

—Good Ol'Ignorant Jeff Sessions responding to questioning by Senator Patrick Leahy

The sun rose at 7:08 this morning, Senator Sessions…

…I am not aware of facts that would support the assertions made in the above question and an unable to opine on this matter.

You doubt the sun rose this morning?

I was asleep. Therefore, I am not aware of facts that would support the …

GAAHH!!

February 24, 2017

Sometime For Lulz He Reached For The Most Easily Discerned Lie

By the way, you folks are in here, the place is packed. There are lines that go back six blocks, and I tell you that because you won't read about it, okay? But there are lines that go back six blocks. There is such love in this country for everything we stand for.

— Donald Trump, CPAC Convention Speech, February 24, 2017

Gabrielle Bluestone's picture of the lines outside the Convention Center capturing the love in this country for everything he stands for:



Convention Center Entrance, Gaylord National Resort

Maybe it's just the thrill of getting away with one more gratuitously false claim that inclines our President to produce such unforced balderdash on a regular basis. Why else would he be inclined to mention what might or might not be going on outside the Convention Center, aside from the implication that what was going on outside would be suppressed: "I tell you that because you won't read about it, okay?"

Because, quite evidently, it didn't happen, as ascertained and documented photographically. Things that obviously didn't happen are often passed over without comment even in the best of journals, so, no you won't read about it. Okay? Six blocks worth of unecessarily specific exaggeration of the crowd size, though. That's man-bites-truth, and that's pretty printable.

And still,and yet, a significant number of Trumps followers will go away from the incident with the impression that the people who print what we read are holding something back.

Consigliere Steve Bannon named the press the "opposition party" at this same event.

Ex Post Shmooshaugh

Tree-Interrupted GMC Pickup Truck, February 2017

February 22, 2017

Smooshed

Tree vs. Truck, Santa Cruz, CA, February 20, 2017
Just a few houses away from here a 40-or-50-foot eucalyptus, bent by the ferociously windy day, gave, and, leaning, crushed a parked truck's cab, arching over the entire roadway, from front yard where it failed to front fence across the street, blocking the way with a 15 foot wall of foliage.

Eucalyptus Blocks Street, Santa Cruz, CA, February 20, 2017
It's laid there for a couple of days, long enough so that I'm going to have to find out what I need to do to help get it out of the way soon. I've just finished parting out our own leaner, a juniper inclined towards taking out the neighbor's roof, which the tree service left in chunks for me to deal with after they took it down a few weeks back.

I saw the juniper's great bulk listing farther to the west than it had ever done before one day, resting on a spindly gate post that it had never neared in the past. I considered the consequences of not doing anything about it, and eventually realized, late enough that evening that I couldn't actually make an immediate move but must wait until tomorrow to act, that it was essential to cast about for somebody to come by and cut down the poor tree before it found its own ruinous way to the ground. Most of my night's thoughts, substituting for restful sleep, turned toward such eventualities.

In the event the tree service came promptly and executed the task with dispatch. The consequences I'd spent the night rehearsing were averted, or, I should say, displaced a few houses over from the look of things.








February 09, 2017

February 01, 2017

February

But then, while we're at it, Kevin Drum:

… Republicans in Congress are rushing to do a big favor for oil companies that do business in Russia. It all has to do with Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which requires drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. Back in 2010, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson—now our Secretary of State—opposed this provision. Here is Michael Grunwald in Politico:

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry.

Today, seven years later, Republicans confirmed Tillerson as President Trump’s Secretary of State, despite allegations that he’s too cozy with Russia. At the same time, the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule created under Section 1504, despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs.

This is likely to be the very first bill that Congress sends to Trump's desk: a big wet kiss to oil companies and Vladimir Putin. It's nice to know that we have our priorities straight.

January 14, 2017

A Sunny Day in The Park

January 14 marks the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-In in the Polo Field in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, a few tens of thousands of people from just outside the mainstream of American culture gathering there for an afternoon, taking in the sun, taking in Ginsberg, taking in Timothy Leary (who trademarked "turn on, tune in, drop out," on the occasion), taking in Gary Snyder and Michael McClure and Jerry Rubin, and the Grateful Dead, a big bunch of people having a joyous, peaceful time together, much to their own astonishment and that of the assembled regional, national and international news media, who marked the occasion with contemporary reports suggesting strongly that evidently something or other was going on here.

And indeed something was, a virtual, one-time-only Committee of Correspondence convening on that day to blossom over the next 5 decades into what might best be described as a distinct shared cultural inclination, as variously adopted in all its willing communal looseness now by people around the globe, whose relation to the environment, to militarism, xenophobia, foodstuffs, sexuality, dress, New Agey argle-bargle, and, above all, to the pleasures of really big crowds, loud music and drugs, came together in broad daylight for the first time there at the Be-In. The dance halls in the city had been hopping for the past year, drawing crowds in the hundreds to concerts featuring the first wave of San Francisco rock bands, but this, under pellucid January skies, out in the open, was a revelation. Six months later the Monterey Pops Festival crystalized its international phase.

Only few miles from where I grew up. I took the 28, the bus that passed a block from my house on its way up 19th Avenue to and through the Park, and I got off at Lincoln and wandered down to the Polo Field.

There was a standard in those days, a standard of dress and public composure, or else the hegemonic conformity of the time would have had nothing to refer to, and looking at footage of that day it's clear that most of the attendees still conformed to that set of standards, though lots of the people there, "freaks" they called themselves, were having none of that, dressing instead as pure, enthusiastic provocation.

It was so obvious on inspection that everyone was having fun sharing in an infectious music and drug-induced glee that spread on that sun-dappled day from that core of freaks to baptise the entire crowd in the new thing.

A guy parachuted down and landed just behind the crowd. The Polo Field is big, there was plenty of room for a landing. I hadn't noticed the plane leaving him off overhead or how far he'd glided until I glanced back to stare at all the people (who, in number and kind, were a bit of a revelation to me at the time), only to notice up there coming down from the sky, the parachuting guy. I remember thinking, "Hey, there's something you can't do, just jump out of a plane like that in the middle of the city."