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      This is one more reason why Biden will need to expand the federal bench and add a couple hundred new judges: @fedjudges reports the White House is nominating Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an associate at Jones Day, and former clerk to Justice Thomas, to a lifetime-tenured judgeship in Florida. She graduated college in 2009, earned her … Continue reading Here we g […]
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Thursday: Nice Girls (don’t do Trump)

A Thursday rock pick-me-up:

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Hell may have just frozen over. I’m posting something from Fox News.

Voters’ Mood Sours: 56% Say Trump Tearing Country Apart

That shift is not, as is often the case, tied to the economy. Positive views on the economy are higher than in more than a decade: 36 percent say it is in either “excellent” (6 percent) or “good” (30 percent) shape. The last time conditions were rated this positively was August 2004.

The same isn’t true for Trump. His job ratings are increasingly negative — and 56 percent feel Trump’s “tearing the country apart,” versus 33 percent who say he’s “drawing the country together.”

Dang, it’s always that stubborn 33%. Who are these people??

We have the answer. It’s from Bob Altemeyer at the University of Manitoba who spent 40 years doing research on what drives people to support dictators and put obedience to authority above the inner voice of conscience. He wrote a spookily prescient piece about Trump and his supporters in July 2016. It’s a fascinating read. Here are some of the highlights about what a typical Trump supporter might be like:

They are highly ethnocentric, highly inclined to see the world as their in-group versus everyone else. Because they are so committed to their in-group, they are very zealous in its cause. They will trust their leaders no matter what they say, and distrust whomever the leader says to distrust.

They are highly fearful of a dangerous world. Their parents taught them, more than parents usually do, that the world is dangerous. They may also be genetically predisposed to experience stronger fear than people skilled at “keeping their heads while others are losing theirs.”

They are highly self-righteous. They believe they are the “good people” and this unlocks a lot of hostile impulses against those they consider bad.

They are aggressive. Given the chance to attack someone with the approval of an authority, they will lower the boom.

They are highly prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities, non-heterosexuals, and women in general.

They will support their authorities, and even help them, persecute almost any identifiable group in the country.

Their beliefs are a mass of contradictions. They have highly compartmentalized minds, in which opposite beliefs live independent lives in separate boxes. As a result, their thinking is full of double-standards.

They reason poorly. If they like the conclusion of an argument, they don’t pay much attention to whether the evidence is valid or the argument is consistent. They especially have trouble realizing a conclusion is invalid.

They are highly dogmatic. Because they have mainly gotten their beliefs from the authorities in their lives, rather than think things out for themselves, they have no real defense when facts or events indicate they are wrong. So they just dig in their heels and refuse to change.

They are very dependent on social reinforcement of their beliefs. They think they are right because almost everyone they know and listen to tells them they are. That happens because they screen out sources that will suggest that they are wrong.

Because they severely limit their exposure to different people and ideas, they vastly overestimate the extent to which other people agree with them. And thinking they are “the moral majority” supports their attacks on the “evil minorities” they see in the country.

They believe strongly in group cohesiveness, and being loyal. They are highly energized when surrounded by a crowd of fellow-believers because it makes them feel powerful and supports their belief that “all the good people” agree with them.

They are easily duped by manipulators who pretend to espouse their causes when all the con-artists really want is personal gain.

They are largely blind to themselves. They have little self-understanding and insight into why they think and do what they do. They are heavily into denial.

Altemeyer correctly predicts that it is extremely difficult to change their minds. Challenging their authority figure will only make them dig in their heels.

Go read the whole thing. Then find some xanax.

May I suggest “Trickled On”?

Anyone here remember the Laffer Curve? You know the “trickle down” economics beautiful theory destroyed by ugly facts? The one where we cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy and they, in turn, invest it in good paying jobs for Americans instead of following their instincts, taking the money and running (yachting, private jetting) as fast as they can?

Well, it’s back.

That’s what Trump’s tax “reform” package is all about. Greg Sargent at WaPo’s Plum Line says it will be the end of Trump’s economic populism.

Not necessarily. There’s a lot to like here for the mindlessly vindictive Trump supporter who thinks coastal elites are trying to ram the nanny state down their throats and force them to gay marry right before surrendering their guns and marching them off for mandatory abortions. For one thing, if reports are true about the reform package curtailing the mortgage deduction and state tax deductions, it’s going to slam California, NJ, NY, MA the hardest. Sure it will cause some Trump voters pain but the howls of rage from the libtards will be like choirs of heavenly angels to their ears.

Hokay.

The housing market will likely crash somewhat so sell your house now to the first sucker you find. I’d look for them at the nearest Trump Rally.

Wednesday: He’s baaaacck

Harvey made landfall– again- this morning along the Texas Louisiana border. Up to 12 more inches of rain predicted.

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Podcasts to listen to this week:

The “Revolting” Administration from Trumpcast- senior administration officials are publicly distancing themselves from Trump, signifying something. Hmmm….

Harvey Tests Trump from the data analysts at FiveThirtyEight Politics.

Donald Trump vs The Congressional GOP from Vox. Warning: Matt Yglesias has the WORST vocal fry ever. {{cringeworthy}}

*************************************

PM found a tweet about how some lawmakers working on tax reform are planning to tax our 401Ks up front to pay for corporate tax cuts. I think this would cause a “disturbance in the force”. Bad idea, really bad. A bigly, yuge bad idea.

I’ll be the first to admit that I think going away from pensions to a 401k system did more damage to our economy and sped up globalization more than we think. But everyone is hooked into the 401k Matrix now, mostly in pre-tax mode.

This giant pyramid scheme will not end well in any case but taxing contributions now to pay for tax cuts for the well connected is going to add insult to injury. If you’re going to tax the 401ks of people who made a killing in the last 8 years, the money should be directed to shoring up the safety net for those people who lost their careers during the crash and couldn’t contribute to a 401k and now will retire close to poverty.

But wait! There’s more tax reform ideas:

Are Trump voters feeling stupid yet?

*************************************

I lost my sunglasses. Now I can’t stare at people on the street without them knowing about it.

This one’s for BiFF:

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Game of Thrones Recap

Character with the Best Story Arc- Sansa Stark

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Ayayay! I have mixed emotions about this article from Vanity Fair about Melania’s choice to wear Stilettos to survey the flood in Houston.

First, I have a new found appreciation for stilettos now that I lost a ton of extra weight. Even with just 3″ heels, I’m 6 feet tall. And though they are impractical to wear on the street, *especially* in Pittsburgh where the pavement/Belgian brick seems designed to make you fall, I love the way pointy toed, sharp heeled shoes make my legs look super long and lean. I should have discovered this 30 years ago but lab environments mean denim and closed toe shoes with a low heel. Whatever. I have one pair of stilettos and I’m going to wear the hell out of them.

Second, is it possible for us to leave First Ladies alone when it comes to their clothes? I get it that Melania is no Hillary Clinton. Come to think of it, she’s not much of a First Lady. And she’s married to Creamsicle. Presumably, she knew what he was when she married him but even she probably didn’t anticipate just how awful he is. I question her value system. Are material things THAT important? In any case, she deserves combat pay, assuming she hasn’t been involved in the Russian intrigue.

That being said, she should have worn Wellies like the duchess of Cambridge. You can look practical and chic in rain boots.

Tuesday: 500 year flood.

Love this song about a place that needs an ark and a rainbow right about now:

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Speaking of religion, the so-called evangelical “Christians” are threatening to go all jihadi on us if we attempt to dethrone Donald Trump for being incompetent, corrupt and suffering from NPD and dementia.

Yes, if we resist the malignant narcissistic white nationalist sympathizer who just pardoned a guy who cost his county $142 million dollars in legal settlements and over 100 suspicious deaths on his jail, the wrath of god shall smite us, so saith Jim Bakker and Paula White:

After insisting that America is more than 70 percent evangelical (a claim that is wildly false), White launched into a series of mini-sermons that described Trump’s presidency as “anointed” by God—and proclaimed that his opponents, by extension, are an affront to the Almighty.

“We are more impressed with a Saul anointing than a David anointing because we are more impressed with what looks right than what is right,” White, whose ministries were once the subject of a failed Senate probe investigating possible financial improprieties, said. “Therefore, we choose things that we think should sound right, should act right. They say about our president, ‘Well, he is not presidential.’ Thank goodness. Thank goodness. Thank goodness … he is not a polished politician. In other words, he is authentically — whether people like it or not — has been raised up by God. Because God says that He raises up and places all people in places of authority.”

She continued: “It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.”

Well, THERE’S your problem. We don’t have a constitutional monarchy. We have a constitutional republic.

And anyway, the god they’re worshipping needs a rewrite. Yeah, God v1.0 needs an upgrade minus the apocalyptic feature and the horribly vague and repetitive user manual. We’re talking 2000 year old technology.

Strut: Sweet Tooth

Reminds me of a summer sublet with Sig Pi little sisters at The Zoo.

You never know what you’ll find on someone’s iPhone. So there.

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Ok, this is a bad plan. Trump is planning to go to Texas today to survey the damage. Yes, the rain is still falling and our Creamsicle in charge is going to commandeer police and other emergency vehicles and other resources to guarantee his security while there are still people who need rescuing.

Must. Hog. Spotlight. As. Benevolent. Dictator.

I can almost hear him now, reminding Houston how he carried Texas, like it’s impossible for a Republican to win there.

This little ditty from Gov. Greg Abbott is so typical of Fox News audience thinking:

Authorities also faced new questions about whether they should have evacuated Houston. Asked Monday about the decision to recommend that people shelter in place rather than leave the city, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there was no point in thinking about past decisions.

“We are where we are now,” he said.

Riiiiight. Because there was no point in looking back thru history for examples of similar disasters and how they could have been prevented. Like, oh, I don’t know, Katrina, for example?

I swear our collective IQ as a nation is at risk.

Swim

Houston is going to get two more feet of rain. The mind boggles. And now it’s spreading into Louisiana.

Meanwhile, this is going to be a test for Trump. Will he go to bat for Texas with Congress? He just spent the last couple of weeks insulting them and calling them weak.

Harvey’s devastation poses President Trump’s first test in emergency assistance, potentially revealing whether he can overcome Congress’s deep divisions over spending and the budget to prioritize aid. It will also test whether Trump can suspend his adversarial governing style and even postpone his own agenda, notably an overhaul of the tax code, to assemble a major — and costly — package that could be directed to law enforcement, emergency relief, schools, infrastructure, hospitals, food banks and several other entities.

OMG, relief for schools food banks and hospitals. Will Paul Ryan transfer his deepest desire to screw poor people out of health insurance to screwing Houston out of flood money? Even the word “relief” perfumes the air with the stench of the welfare state.

This should be interesting in the Chinese proverb sense of the word.

***********************************

A new study from Harvard came out last week to confirm what we’ve known all along. The media’s obsession with turning the 2016 election into a horse race likely cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Also, Clinton centric blogs skewed their citations towards reliable news sources while Trump and conservative blogs leaned towards opinion pieces. Is vs ought?

No surprise there. Trump voters vote from the gut, while most Clinton bloggers were cool and rational. Right. Next time, we aim for the testes. If we’re going to get all emotional, I say let’s sex up the blogosphere.

It’s a thought.

**************************************

I have to mow but I’m a bit sleepy.

Here’s a Neko Case pick me up.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale

Spoiler Alert

A little tongue in cheek humor for people who are all caught up:

Best line of the episode: “My sister asked you a question.”

Harvey, ICE, Geometry and Lawlessness

Houston is going under. Harvey has stalled. I have no faith in Trump to manage this. I hope I am surprised.

Pat and Frannie in the Houston area say they are doing ok but that the flood advisory has been extended to Tuesday.

Hillary tweeted this morning:

Consider a donation if you’ve got the spare cash. Here’s the link to HuffPo’s list.

Update: Pat referred me to this post at Buzzfeed about how ICE left 50 immigrants stranded at a bus station before Harvey hit. WTF??

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This NY Times post link goes out to commenter miKe, proprietor of the blog elemental fractal, and other lovers of geometry and the beauty of math.

Vi Hart narrates a video on hyperbolic geometry and bending the rules of physics. If it’s Vi, it’s going to be good.

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I haven’t said a whole lot about the pardon of Joe Arpaio. I’m just not that surprised. I’ve recommended the book In the Garden of Beasts about the years preceding Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland. The book was written from the perspective of the last American ambassador to Germany during Hitler’s early years as chancellor. The book is less about Hitler and more about how a destructive nationalistic populism takes over and becomes malignant.

It’s not enough to say “things aren’t normal”. It’s the structure of what keeps a nation together that is what is compromised. A president like Trump and the right wingers that put him in charge are uncovering all the holes in our government and society. We have gotten by for a very long time on norms and not formal laws to constrain us. The presidential power to pardon is unrestricted. We have certain formalities that other presidents have followed but there was nothing preventing any previous president from doing whatever he pleased.

Now we have a president who has no self control and whose aim is to play to his base. It is inevitable that some of that base is going to see this pardon as permission to go after immigrants and brown people, to harass them and commit acts of violence on their persons. Trump is allowing his base to ignore the judiciary because there will now be an expectation that holding it accountable will be met with laxity.

Once this kind of lawlessness takes hold on our country, it is difficult to stop other weak spots from becoming compromised.

Yes, the die hard Trump supporters are still a minority. But we have lax gun laws, a lot of paranoid militia groups and doomsday preppers and a toddler in charge of the military.

This is the first significant removal of a jenga block. It’s going to get shaky. And if he fails to sign on to raising the debt ceiling because he can’t get the money for his border wall, the whole faith and credit of the United States could be called into question. That could have repercussions world wide.

In which case, we should all stock up on our doomsday stash.

How high’s the water?

***********************************

Harvey Stalls Over Texas

Though Harvey may have been downgraded from its Category 4 status, much of its story has left to be written, as the repeated heavy rainfall associated with its outer convective bands is just getting started. Already, rainfall totals up to nearly 15 inches have been reported, and most locations in Harvey’s forecast cone can expect an additional one to three feet through the middle of next week.

Didn’t see that coming.

So, it looks like the Trump administration is not prepared to manage the emergency of catastrophic flooding during and after Hurricane Harvey since he plucked John Kelly from DHS to be his chief of staff.

Remind me again, do we even have a National hurricane watch bureau thingy anymore? Or were those people too inextricably tied to evidence and the science of climate change?

Trump’s pick for FEMA administrator was confirmed in June, but officials at NOAA are still waiting for Trump to nominate someone to lead the key weather monitoring agency. The post remains vacant — and without a Trump nominee — alongside dozens of other deputy, under and assistant secretary positions in the Trump administration that require Senate confirmation.

And while Trump nominated two deputy directors for FEMA, they have yet to be confirmed into their positions.

Unrelated to those nomination woes, the National Hurricane Center is still fielding applications for a permanent director after its chief resigned in May.

Oh well. Pat and Franny, I have plenty of room in Pittsburgh.

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I think what I really need in my life is a Vespa. An ice blue one.

And Vespa tunes. Spotify has a list for everything. Here’s number one on its list: