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      Because the family of a mentally ill Philadelphia man holding a knife called for an ambulance, and the cops showed up. They claim he “charged” them and they shot and killed him. The mental health unit is a pilot program and isn’t paid to work on the weekends. Protesters didn’t do this, looters did. (Maybe … Continue reading Here was my neighborhood last nigh […]
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      This second excerpt from my interview is more interesting and longer. This is the second clip from my interview with Ian Welsh (Ian blogs at ianwelsh.net). For this segment, we went on a wild ride discussing the big picture mess that is US politics and society more broadly. I asked Ian what might happen if […]
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Shout out to Atmika Pai

If you’re into Astronomy and Coding (and I know who you are), check out The Universe 42. Sounds like Atmika is a Douglas Adams fan.

Her blog description reads:

“Astronomical Coder: Learn to code the universe at your fingertips.” She’s using VPython. BiFF knows how I struggle with coding but you’re never too old, right, BiFF?

I SAID, RIGHT, BiFF??

I love blogs like Atmika’s. So much to read there. She’s got a fantastic post on super moons and eclipses over India. Best wishes for her to fill it out with wonderful content and develop an audience of millions.

Also, don’t forget to check out Mike’s blog Elemental Fractal for fractal art. Beautiful.

Theme Song for the Trump Years

SOTU: Bigger, Better, Faster, MORE!

Hey, time for the live blog of the first (and perhaps last) Trump State of the Uniom address. The theme of this speech is “Safer, Stronger, and Proud”

Let’s review:

Safer – this follows the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas

Stronger – yep, he really scared the bejeesus out of Kim Jung Un.

Prouder- Ok, let’s not go there. We’re never going to live Trump down.

Annnnnyway, fill your glasses. Let’s drink to:

Safe, strong, weak, proud, terror, Guantanamo, urban, shot, murder, fear, strength, immigrants, gangs, opioids, drug dealers, drug dealers from Mexico – in gangs… you get the picture.

Son of American Carnage

oh and unity, unify, infrastructure, tax cuts, stock markets

Let’s do it. Everybody drink.

Dinner for State of the YumYum

Food porn

High Crimes, Misdemeanors and Devin Nunes

Did I recommend Slow Burn a Podcast about Watergate? Host Leon Nayfog takes listeners to the backstory about Watergate and how a seemingly inconsequential break-in of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 1972 lead to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

At the beginning, no one had any idea how serious the initial crime and subsequent coverup would be. Republicans circled the wagons at first, trying to protect their guy and brushing the whole investigation off. But slowly, over the course of two years as more information leaked out, public sentiment started to shift. By the summer of 1974, the president who had won the White House in a landslide had a 25% approval rating.

Today’s episode is about the impeachment process. What we should have learned back in 1972-74 was just how full of holes the Constitution is. There are only a few terms that refer to concrete actions, such as treason, that are punishable by impeachment. “High crimes and misdemeanors” was ill-defined. Elizabeth Holzmann, Democratic House Representative from Brooklyn was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee that was tasked to draw up articles of impeachment. She said they first had to understand what high crimes and misdemeanors meant. And here is the key: at the time the Constitution was drafted, the US had no criminal code. So, high crimes and misdemeanors referred to a political act and/or an abuse of power.

See where I’m going here?

If not, review the way Trump harassed Andrew McCabe, his subordinate, about his wife losing the seat she was running for in Virginia or how he lost his temper when McCabe allowed Comey to take a government flight back to Washington after he was fired. Trump does not understand self-restraint. He is a mean spirited, vengeful man and he abuses the people who work for him. You might think that he’s just a tough boss but it goes farther than that.

Ok, so Holzmann says she sympathized with her Republican colleagues because some of the districts they represented went big for Nixon. And there were a couple Republicans who had the guts to impeach Nixon but they thought they were the only ones. It turns out they weren’t.

I bring this up because Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican representing NJ-11, representing the working class but particularly the swank suburbs of Passaic County, indicated yesterday that he was retiring at the end of his term. That’s one more Republican who will have a little more leeway to vote his conscience, provided he has one.

But what about Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence committee and zealot who appears to be ready to burn secret government assets in order to protect the president from scrutiny? He’s a Republican from California’s Salinas valley. We can pretty much guess how his constituency of rural residents and farmers voted in 2016. Still, the tax “reform” bill is going to slam California’s residents and there was little ambiguity about the fact that the Republicans and president’s intent in passing it was partially to punish the blue states.

I have to wonder how far Devin Nunes’ approval rating has to drop before he starts feeling the heat. Where is the resistance movement in Fresno? What are they up to?

And what about the recent signs that the media may be regretting what it did to Hillary Clinton? How about the op/ed by Jeffrey Toobin admitting that he willfully engaged in false equivalency coverage of Clinton or WaPo’s recent post about Hillary Clinton’s still steadfast supporters who would vote for her again. Or the outburst of cheering at the Grammys the other night when she read a passage from Fire and Fury in a skit on best spoken word?

Is it any wonder that Trump is still obsessed with Hillary and her win over him?

We like her. A lot.

Nayfog ended the first season of Slowburn with a series of whatif questions. The resignation of Richard Nixon was never assured. So many things had to happen and so many people had to agree to do the right thing and put the country before their own personal fortunes. It’s less likely that Republicans will hold Trump accountable even though his high crimes and misdemeanors are at least equal to Nixon’s while his personality, character and intelligence doesn’t even come close to that the worst president we have ever had.

Who is going to stand up to him?

Well?

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

BiFF is in town. We’re going to watch the state of the uniom speech tonight. Stay tuned for a live blog later.

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

Tweet du Jour:

Ruh-Roh.

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

Sometimes it’s difficult to know who to follow on twitter when it comes to matters dealing with the department of justice. I’m recommending Preet Bharara, the US Attorney that Trump fired last year. The reason is because Preet doesn’t come off as a partisan hack and he doesn’t get your hopes up about the Mueller investigation. He tells you straight on what is happening based on his personal experience and what the limitations of the justice system are. For example, don’t get the idea that Robert Mueller is some kind of liberal hero. He doesn’t have an agenda. He’s just doing his job to get to the truth and serve justice. If there’s no there there, Mueller is not going to act like some kind of partisan Javert and keep digging and digging until he finds something on Trump. Preet also seems to be a guy with good ideas about how to keep this from happening again. So, follow Preet and be sure to subscribe to his podcast. You’ll get a good background for following what’s going on without BS or bias and you’ll be a much harder target for misdirection and obfuscation.

The sound of the resistance wins a Grammy

Portugal the Man won a Grammy last night for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance over the ubiquitous Despacito.

No surprise there really. The song is the sound of something bubbling up. The video is full of resistance imagery like a burning “Info Wars” newspaper, a raised fist and Black Lives Matters.

Many awards shows are platforms for whatever messages the artists think are important at the time. The Golden Globes a couple weeks ago was all about #metoo. It’s very of the moment. But Feel It Still was a hit last summer and seemed destined to be swamped by Despacito being played almost non-stop.

Not so fast. Feel It Still is for anyone who is still feeling the anger of having our country taken over by a minority of ignorant bigots who don’t seem to know when the billionaire class is robbing them blind. The rest of us are going to be feeling it all the way to November.

Art is more than pretty pictures and bubbly music. Artists are very powerful. The backlash is coming but this resistance has got legs. It’s no exaggeration to say it has the safety and prosperity of the world in its clenched fist. It’s a little more important right now than a Spanish flavored jelly roll.

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

Puzzling tweet this morning:

Really? I’m surprised that anyone in Congress is struggling with the ethical implications of Donald Trump firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The misdirection, faux indignation and smearing of reputations is significant from the right but it’s remarkably easy to blow all the smoke away when you compare what Trump is alleged to have done with what Nixon actually did that eventually forced him to resign before he was impeached. While the methods may have changed, the plot of the story is weirdly identical.

Both Trump’s and Nixon’s campaigns illegally broke into the DNC and stole information. The break ins were reported at the time but they were played down. Then when they got caught, both presidents tried to cover it up and obstruct Justice. Both presidents tried to fire the investigators. Nixon succeeded. Trump appears to be waiting forhis party’s propaganda machine on Fox News to sway public opinion by throwing sand in its audience’s eyes. THEN he’ll fire him, claiming that it will be impossible to get a fair hearing.

The thing is, Trump has been so used to paying his way out of trouble all his life and never being held accountable for anything that he thinks this might actually work.

But the similarity to the Watergate scandal is just too hard to miss, unless you actually *prefer* being a fool. My aunt was telling me how confused she was just the other night and in less than 2 minutes, I cleared up any confusion by comparing the details of The Russia affair to watergate and Trump to Nixon. It was that easy. She’s been foolproofed. It will be harder to distract her now.

I’ve noticed less Fox News on these days as well. It’s not in every waiting room any more. And there are very few other news outlets that are following its lead. I think the lack of a soul, ethics, morality and decency are starting to be more blatantly obvious on Fox and the people who once found punching liberals entertaining are less amused by how the channel makes them feel like they need a shower lately. There’s no feeling more powerful in politics than disgust and decent people will avoid it if possible.

I’m more likely to find my formerly Fox watching relatives tuning in to Rachel Maddow these days. Her way of telling a story is mesmerizing and it might just be giving Hannity and Carlson some legit competition. Oh, sure, Fox could always find a way to triumph but like I said, the confusion is easy to clear. Too easy.

If I were the Republicans, I’d be worried more about that than putting on the kabuki theater of trying to protect the president’s “honor”.

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

Trump says he is not a feminist.

Apparently, this is news. 🙄

He is for EVERYONE! Isn’t that special? KellyAnne Conway, who was a post doc under Satan himself (or Newt Gingrich), had this to say about why she is not a feminist:

“It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I’m neither anti-male or pro-abortion. So, there’s an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices . . . . I look at myself as a product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances.”

There’s another good reason why Kellyanne is not a feminist. I’m pretty sure she failed the entrance exam.

Anti-male and pro-abortion are not in our bylaws. Does anyone know anyone who is PRO-Abortion? What does that even mean?? I mean, seriously, it’s funny to imagine how a PRO-abortionist does activism. Is it mandatory to get pregnant first? What if you’re a woman and you can’t have an abortion because you can’t get pregnant. Can you still be a feminist? I guess a PRO-abortionist is by definition anti-men since any person in their post feminist utopia who can’t get pregnant would be a second class citizen. Would there really be a purpose for them if they couldn’t fulfill their responsibilities of citizenship?

I’m just pulling your leg, Fox News ladies. We know you have trouble with humor and satire so we’ll point this out as we go along to make it easy for you.

🙄

In the same article we find this more accurate definition of feminism:

Author and professor Cheris Kramarae once famously said: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”

There is no personal feminism that promotes your own humanity but not the humanity of other women. Conway’s personal feminism does not exist. No, no, don’t even. It doesn’t count if you’re just the one in charge in your family.

Work on that before the next entrance exam coming up in November. There will be an essay question. And don’t use the label until you get your card in the mail. We’ve got standards.

{{sigh}} Where to begin…

No, seriously, I have to do some deep cleaning this weekend and I don’t know where to start. Apartment Therapy usually runs their January Cure at the start of the year but I didn’t sign up for it this year. Let’s face it, even when I sign up for it, I put it off until February. Then reason that it’s a group activity and I’ve missed out. It’s hard to clean solo instead of with all the other thousands of readers busily getting their sh*t off the floor and scrubbing their bathroom grout with a toothbrush and a paste of baking soda and water.

Does anyone actually use that stuff for cleaning? What’s wrong with apocalyptic purification with bleach and ammonia? Ok, not at the same time. But you know what I mean.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that I live in this three bedroom house by myself so why the hell am I stuffing all my clothes into one closet?? I can jam things into multiple closets without guilt. I can be as irresponsible as I want to be with my things. And I have been. They are literally everywhere. In fact, at the end of the sofa where I am sitting, there is a pile of sweaters and scarves and a jacket on top of the pillows and two unfolded throws.

How long can I put it off while I’m writing this?

Grrr…

Ok, I need some audio book recommendations. Preferably 5 star distractions so I will be absorbed in the cleaning thing. Please no romance novels. 🙄 I like historical fiction, speculative fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, mysteries (think Jo Nesbo and Tana French), biographies, war histories (The Irregulars and The Last Lion were fantastic), science and anthropology (anything by Jared Diamond). Stuff like that. I have 4 credits. Go!

And a little cleanup song:

Hey! What are the chances I’ll finally paint the spare bedroom and hang the drapes??

Yeah, didn’t think so.

SOS: send cleaning crew.<<<<<
t;<<<<
gt;<<
p>

Cadet Bone Spurs has an image problem.

So it turns out that Donald Trump did try to fire Robert Mueller last year. Can anyone say “obstruction of justice”? How about “lock him up”?

Well, we might say the lock him up thing but do we look like a bunch of enraged single electricians at a Trump rally because we struck out on Plenty of Fish on a Friday night? No, we do not.

Anyway, Trump asked his lawyer Don McGahn to do it. That would have meant that McGahn had to call Ron Rosenstein, deputy attorney general and tell him to fire Robert Mueller. But we all know how that would go. He actually would have had to fire Rosenstein himself if the guy hadn’t already resigned.

Wait, haven’t we read this book before? Back in the 70s? Wasn’t it called Saturday Night Massacre with everyone dancing at a disco with subpoenas in their hands? Sounds so familiar…

Don McGahn saw how this would play out and told Donald he wasn’t going to fire anyone. In fact, he’d sooner resign than do that. Good guy, McGahn. Ok, so he works for the worst man on earth…

But it’s what McGahn did next that might make him the true hero of this story. He told Trump to do his own firing and then reportedly called President Very Stable Genius a chicken. Then walked off down the hall presumably confident that Trump wouldn’t have the Bone Spurs to fire Rosenstein and Mueller himself.

And he was right. Trump did nothing but fume. He didn’t fire the guy who just called him a chicken. You know, a weak bird that doesn’t have the stamina to fly.

Now, I can’t understand how the White House has managed to keep this scene under wraps for 6 months. In fact, I don’t believe it. I’m betting that the Congressional Republicans have known all about it for months. Maybe that’s why they were so anxious to write that tax reform bill and pass it before the intoxicating solvents had dissipated from the ditto papers. They knew their incredible luck was about to run out.

It’s going to be pretty hard for them to publicly do nothing about Trump after this. Oh, I’m sure they’ll try. But you know, when your lawyer can get away with justifiably calling you a chicken, you’re done.

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

File this away for the future, Donald told Theresa May, prime minister of Great Britain, that he would not be making a visit until she could guarantee no protests.

Protests make him uncomfortable. They make him go away.

Good to know.

Have it your way?

Net neutrality- the principle that affirms that all internet traffic is equal and should be delivered by your ISP (internet service provider, usually your cable company) without interference. After all, you’re already paying for the access connection and Netflix, WordPress, pornhub (my friends use it). There is no reason for the cable company to interfere with your internet service that doesn’t smell suspiciously like a conflict of interest.

Net neutrality was recently suspended by the FCC, lead by Trump appointee Ajit Pai. That’s because when ISPs started complaining about how they were losing money to streaming services and an increasing number of people who cut the cord, they wanted to be able to introduce tiered pricing so that some internet traffic would be slower than others unless the service coughed up the extra dough to use the cable companies’ fiber. So Obama’s FCC voted to treat ISPs like utilities. And let’s face it, it *is* like a utility. Some kids born in the 90s have never used a phone book or have had to write directions on a piece of paper, go to a library to research a paper, or apply in person for a job. And those kids who do still do are at a severe disadvantage.

Given the vital nature of the internet, and the WHOPPING fees of corporate welfare we have paid over the last 25 years to get the cable companies to reluctantly and with great slowness install faster fiber optic cable in our neighborhoods, it’s a great insult to us as consumers that that cables want to restrict our internet access until we or the services we use cough up more money to them. As if 20 million channels of reality TV and Fox News that you didn’t want in your cable TV package isn’t bad enough. Think about that for a second. Every time you pay the TV portion of your cable bill, you are actually subsidizing the ability of Fox News to delude your neighbor or spouse until they turn into self contradictory, word salad spewing, judgmental, mean and unpleasant philosophical zombies.

Anyway, the cable companies have been very supportive of the Trump administration. And they got net neutrality rescinded. But some people out there of good will may still not understand what that means to them personally. So some clever people have created a nifty ad imagining what it would be like at a Burger King without whopper neutrality. I think the actors in this ad are volunteers who didn’t know what they signed up for. Anyway, their reactions seem genuine. The cable company customer support people are going to love their jobs soon

Now, how can the cable company make your ISP service more like a cable package? Well, let’s use the Whopper again as an example.

If you want everything on your whopper like double patties, extra cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, ketchup and mustard, you can get it for $215/month, but you will need to rent the packaging and paper bag for another $21/month. But you will get everything.

What if you don’t want two patties because, just like reality TV, it’s bad for you. Or maybe you don’t want tomatoes because you are allergic to them. No problem! The cable company will have a number of packages for you to choose from. You can get the stripped down whopper without anything. That will be $125/month and package rental. But, you say, I just want a regular whopper. Ok, no problem, you can have that but it won’t come with a bun. Or you can get fries with a different package. But, you say, I’m already getting HBO Now fries on my iPhone at home. I don’t need it. Too bad, you need to pay for it twice. And extra for extra fries. See where I’m going? You’re never going to get ala cart where you can get the burger, ketchup but not mustard, and three orders or fries while using your own paper bag.

Isn’t this fun??

If this does NOT strike you as a good time had by all, you might want to contact your local hardass Republican Senator or Representative to tell them to cosponsor the bills going thru Congress now to enshrine net neutrality into law. Good luck with that!

November is Coming.

Nice retirement you got there…

… Be a shame if something *happened* to it.

That’s immediately what came to my mind when I saw this tweet by Donald Trump about Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI:

I was thinking to myself, that guy is not going to make it 90 days to his retirement. Donald Trump is the kind of boss who will wait until you’re 2 weeks from retirement and then fire you for taking a company pen home.

And what did we discover yesterday? Jeff Sessions pressured FBI director Chris Wray to fire Andrew McCabe. To his credit, Wray refused and offered to resign, which would have caused a sh^t storm for Trump. Now, Robert Mueller would like to interview Trump about the firing of Comey and Flynn and maybe why he’s got it in for Andrew McCabe. How interesting that Mueller had an interview with Jeff Sessions just a few days ago that reportedly went on for hours and hours.

This is the kind of corrupt, thuggish and vengeful guy Trump is. And millions in this country *love* him for these very reasons. He’s the boss from hell. He’s The Godfather of the White House.

He wants complete loyalty. If you’re a leftover of some other boss and he inherits you, you’d better get in line toot sweet because your job from that point on is to be obedient, make sure he looks good all of the time and shut the fuck up about it or he’ll make sure your livelihood is ruined.

Now comes the headline at WaPo that right around the time Trump fired Comey, he asked McCabe who he voted for in 2016. He knew that McCabe’s wife had run for an office in Virginia as a Democrat. So, here was Andrew McCabe, acting director of the FBI, getting his test early on. Does he work for the justice department and the American people or does he work for Donald Trump? Will he protect Trump from prying and inconvenient investigations?

You’ve got to wonder what Trump was so worried about if there was absolutely “no collusion” with Russia.

But an even better question is what gave Trump the idea that he could get away with his strong arm tactics now that he was president? Did he think that the Oath of Office requiring him to protect and defend the Constitution was the equivalent of some Apple iTunes license? “Yeah, yeah, yadayadayada, scroll, scroll scroll. Where’s the damn ‘I agree’ checkbox? Let’s get on with it already.”

Only weak men with no stamina take that shit seriously, amirite??

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

Some troll on Twitter last night challenged a bunch of us about the Russia investigation. What is it really about? It’s all so vague, like there’s no there there. So, I accepted that challenge in 280 characters. Here goes:

But, she whined, why would Putin help Trump?? What’s in it for him?

And that’s all folks! That’s really all that this boils down to. The difference is that Trump was not president when his campaign accepted the help of the Russians or this would be a lot more serious. Then again, accepting stolen goods from a foreign country in order to take down your opponent during a very high stakes presidential campaign probably should be illegal. I mean, they were emails from a hacked server. The imagination goes wild thinking about what other things the Russians might have offered Trump. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something really big and ugly that they did for him that we don’t know about and maybe never will. Some things you don’t want to alarm the public over.

In any case, it’s always the coverup that takes them down. And Flynn was assuring the Russian ambassador about sanctions being lifted. You know, quid pro quo. Then Comey had to be fired. And probably McCabe. Rosenstein. Sessions eventually. Then Mueller will be fired. It could get really ugly.

But that’s it in a nutshell. Not really that hard to understand, typos and bad phrasing notwithstanding. It’s not terribly vague. Anyone who lived through Watergate should be able to follow it. The difference is there were only 3 TV stations back then and you couldn’t get away from wall to wall coverage of Watergate. Now you can visit an endless variety of channels to distract you and Fox News lovers can go back to having their brains sucked out for awhile.

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

Podcast du Jour: Trumpcast -A Rot at the Core of the Republic. Virginia Heffernan talks to The Atlantic’s David Frum (yes, I know he was not a liberal’s friend during the Bush years but redemption *may* be possible. It turns out that some Republicans do have lines they won’t cross. I know right? They’re like unicorns.)

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

Hey! I just noticed that our numbers are ticking up lately. We’re less than 100,000 away from 13 MILLION unique page hits. Fancy that. 10 years later, there are still people reading my early morning hypergraphia.

Thank you, lovely people. You make my day.

You too Niles.

Walk to work music: