Sunday, May 28, 2023

What is the law? Are we not men?


Molly Ivins's birthday is not until August but she got an early gift Saturday when the Texas legislature, which is slightly redder than the surface of Mars, voted 121-23 to impeach attorney general Ken Paxton in the eighth year of his criminal indictment for everything from stealing a pen to taking bribes.  They waited until the leg (as she called it) was about to recess for over a year, so it's not clear when his trial will take place, but dayum, it's a day no one expected to see.  Trump and Cruz are outraged, so that's fun, too.  Paxton responded by branding the speaker, Dade Phelan, a liberal drunk.  There's going to be some impressive jurispruding here, you bet.  Who's bringing the barbecue-flavor popcorn?

If you're thinking Texas's chief law enforcement official has a novel approach to his job, you haven't been paying attention to James Comer of the House Overlook Committee.  Comer decided to start a rumor that Joe Biden took a $5 million bribe from someone while he was vice-president and then challenge the FBI to confirm or deny it.  To prove his seriousness he plans to charge Director Christopher Wray with contempt for failing to produce the document which will prove this just because it does not exist.  (See Trump v. Raffensperger, "Find me 11,780 votes," 2020.)  So far the only crime of which the president is unquestionably guilty is being the father of Hunter Biden, and even Margie Greene doesn't think that's an impeachable offense.  Not like letting those billions of illegals cross the southern border.  And the search for the missing whistleblower goes on.

Another waste of House space, Glenn Grothman (R-WI) arose during debate over the debt limit to point out the real problem with our judiciary:  not enough straight white male judges.  Glenn's done the math (or an intern did) and reports that out of 97 federal judges appointed in the past two years, only five were "white guys" and two of those were gay so they don't count.  A personal injury lawyer named Max Kennerly, who tweets on legal matter, dug a little deeper and reports that the totals are:  779 white men, 63 Black women currently on the federal bench (no stats on their orientation).  It's no wonder white men like Kyle Rittenhouse keep getting a raw deal.

Naomi Pena Villasano describes herself as a "two hundred percenter:  100 percent Mexican and 100 percent American," and she wanted to wear this scarf at her graduation from a rural Colorado high school.  The school district says no and was upheld by Judge Nina Y. Wang, even though clothing has long been established as a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.  An attorney for the Garfield County School District claims it could open the door to "offensive material."  The governmental obsession with how people dress remains a weirdly fraught matter.  

According to Business Insider Jayson Boebert was "drinking beer and cleaning a gun" when he was served with divorce papers on behalf of the eminent Congresswoman.  An affidavit from the process server says, "He started yelling and using profanities...I told him I was leaving the documents on the chair outside of the door, he closed the door then let the dogs out."  Boebert says he thought it was "some crazy leftwing person coming to my house again."  The gentlelady (as House rules demand she be called) frequently preaches about Christian marriage ("If you start chasing Jesus with everything that you have, I promise you your husband will chase you chasing Jesus").  Thus the love affair that began when sixteen-year-old Lauren Opal Roberts saw Jayson exposing himself in front of a bowling alley comes to its sad end.  Now she has more time to accuse Joe Biden of muzzling free speech by denouncing antisemitism.  And chase Jesus.


In which they serve...White Gladis and her gang of orcas have attacked more than 250 boats in the Straits of Gibraltar, sinking three.  The Royal Navy is fighting back by sprinkling sand in the water and having sailors bang on pots to confuse the killer whales' sonar.  This makes it hard for them to identify and destroy a vessel's rudder.  Horatio Nelson, who won a significant battle in the neighborhood in 1805, would be impressed.

Friday, May 26, 2023


 A confession:  I grew up without any acquaintance with the Great Children's Classics -- no Beatrix Potter, no Laura Ingalls Wilder, no fairy tales that I can remember.  My parents were new at parenting and just pointed me toward their own shelves of Dickens, Poe, biographies and assorted long-forgotten novelists of the 1940s (Samuel Shellabarger, anyone?  Kathleen Winsor?).  So I have no emotional attachment to Winnie the Pooh, either as the companion of the late Queen Elizabeth or the subject of a 2023 British slasher film.   If the copyright owner could not keep the bear out of the public domain, well, this kind of thing happens.  I suppose the XXX version of Little Women will be along at some point.

One appropriation of Pooh is too disturbing to be overlooked.  Texas schoolchildren, forbidden to read anything about Black or trans people, will have access to a Stay Safe Book where Pooh teaches them to "run, hide, fight" when a gunman enters the school.  Texas will do anything to protect children except restrict access to firearms, especially assault weapons -- it will even harvest their DNA to help medical examiners match up their small body parts.  As I said, I'm not a reader but my understanding is that the bear is from Peru, which doesn't fit the Texas attitude toward Spanish-speaking immigrants.  It seems more than presumptuous to press-gang him into the state's campaign of teaching children that they are hostages to a specious reading of the Second Amendment.


    "If there is danger, the police will come fast to catch the stranger."  Not available in Uvalde.

But we are all hostages.   Those of us who don't want to see the global economy explode like a new Tesla are the problem, according to Matt Gaetz, who doesn't even bother with euphemism.  "I think my conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don't feel like we should negotiate with our hostage."  Fuck you, capitalism, this is about proving how powerful we are.  Biden says he's "very optimistic" about the debt limit, which I hope means he's prepared to shove the Fourteenth Amendment straight up their trumps.  Somebody needs to put sanity first and it's not going to be the Big Giant Head.  No negotiation with terrorists.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Gate crashers

 On Saturday night the mysterious Sai Varshith Kandula repeatedly rammed his truck into a White House barricade and told investigators he had come to "kill the president" and "seize power."  Is he a Hitler fan?  Of course he is.

Today a man drove his car into a security gate at 10 Downing Street and was arrested for criminal damage and dangerous driving.  No word on his political ambitions at this time.  Curious coincidence?

I ask because the UK increasingly echoes the US, at least when it comes to potentially violent extremism.  Last week, for example, the National Conservatism conference was held in a partially filled hall in London, sponsored by America's Edmund Burke Foundation.  (They called it NatCon, but they should have known that others would call them NatC's.  Poor planning there.)  The far right of the Tory Party mingled with Yanks like Kevin Roberts of the Heritage Foundation and Yoram Hazony of the Burkers to condemn immigration, low birth rates, "cultural Marxism" and the left generally.  Mandatory military service was also mentioned, and for comic relief there was crackpot historian David Starkey, who believes increased attention to slavery stems from certain people's "jealousy" of the Holocaust.  Can we agree they were both bad?

As individual Britons and the country grow poorer, a new word has been coined for the experience of leaving the EU:  "Bregret."  More than half tell poll-takers that Brexit was a mistake and they would like another referendum.  It's not clear whether this is the result of changing attitudes on immigration or higher prices for more scarce items like fresh vegetables; maybe both.  The Conservatives are polling 20 percent behind Labour, which is neither beloved nor particularly left under Keir Starmer (who describes his putative government as "Tony Blair on steroids").  Many expect another coalition with the Liberal Democrats.  

When it comes to policing, there are excesses in both countries but those in Britain tend to be less violent.  Sixty-four people were arrested on Coronation Day, six of whom were actual anti-monarchical activists; all six were released without charge.  The rest were just hapless people grabbed off the street or out of private meetings because somebody decided they looked disruptive.  In Indianola, Mississippi, on the other hand, Nakala Murry told her son Aderrien to call 911 when his father arrived at the house in an "irate" mood.  The officer showed up with gun drawn, ordered everyone outside and decided he'd better shoot Aderrien, who is eleven, in the chest.  He is recovering from wounds to his liver, lung and ribs. 

It's not only mass shootings that are breaking records here:  American cities are having to pay a record $20 million to people injured by police during the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd.  Most cities could find other uses for that money, and the number will certainly rise as more litigation moves through the courts.  Racism is fiscally stupid, apart from everything else.

The British are way ahead of us when it comes to legislative raucousness, following well established patterns of groaning and laughing while the Speaker yells for order.  Everyone seems to enjoy it and nobody gets assaulted.  Over here it's a little scarier.  At a fundraising dinner Margie Greene paid $100,000 for a Chapstick used by Squeaker McCarthy, whose lips are raw from Trump's blotchy ass, and was rewarded with the job of Squeaker-for-a-Day.  Steve Scalise was spewing something about the debt limit and Democrats naturally laughed, causing Madame to demand "some decorum on the other side."  Remembering how she dressed up as a balloon and screamed "Liar!" during State of the Union, the other side lost it.  How she loves to pound that gavel.  And now that she owns McCarthy's DNA she can grow her own McCarthy in a peach tree dish.  Margie was coming off a well-publicized snit with Jamaal Bowman, who may have implied that she's a tad racist.  "It's like calling a person of color the N word," she protested.  "I feel threatened by him."  Like that Indianola police officer who felt threatened by Aderrien Murry.  

Your move, Mother of Parliaments.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

This never-ending shade

 Casey Rivara stopped his car in Rocklin, California, to help a duck and her young cross the road.  He was returning to his car when another driver struck and killed him.  That's what it feels like to be alive in this time and place.

Amanda Gorman's poem "The Hill We Climb" was read by her at Joe Biden's inauguration over two years ago.  Only now does the Florida hate community have laws in place to censor it.  Shocked by lines about "a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man," one parent in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools demanded that the poem by "Oprah Winfrey" be removed because it "is not educational and have indirect hate messages."  Well, not removed but placed out of reach of young readers so they won't be "indoctrinated."  Gorman pronounced herself "gutted."  She can take comfort in a Washington Post investigation which found that most of the complaints are coming from "a miniscule number of hyperactive adults."  

I can never remember which Fox News host is supposed to be/trying to be funny.  If it's Greg Gutfeld (or Gutfeld!), he needs better writers.  A 38-year-old female teacher in California had been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student and Gutfeld! thought it was delightful.  "I'm sorry, come on.  Sixteen years old?  I would have died for that!" said the star of the network that calls all Democrats "groomers."  Statutory rape is fine as long as it's not same-sex, I guess.  One panelist objected but Gutfeld! would not be deterred, citing as legal precedent the Van Halen song "Hot for Teacher."  "I don't condone it, I just envy it," was as far as he would backtrack.  

Ron DeSantis really knows how to launch a presidential campaign -- on a Twitter platform few have heard of, with Elon Musk to shelter him from any rude questions.  The run-up has been -- well, unusual.  First Equality Florida and the Human Rights Campaign, now the NAACP have issued warnings to members to avoid the state.  Last week Florida took a hit to its economy when Disney cancelled plans to build a billion-dollar campus near Orlando which would have added more than two thousand jobs.  (Good spot for that new prison, Ron.)  Anybody want to see governing like this in all fifty states?

Maybe South Carolinians do.  Their governor, Henry McMaster, says things like, "I look forward to the day that Democrats are so rare, we have to hunt them with dogs."  DeSantis hasn't pushed a "hunt the woke with dogs" bill through the Floridastag yet, but now that he's been given the idea...

Now this is funny, Gutfeld!  Fox News built a home studio for Tucker Carlson in his Maine bunker and now they've dismantled it.  Now he can't even do Rupert Pupkin "broadcasts" anymore.  Does anyone want life-size cardboard versions of Trump and Orban?

It's hard to tell the Trump campaign team from the Trump legal defense team but another lawyer dropped out of the latter.  Timothy Parlatore was on boxes-of-stolen-documents assignment before he quit, citing constant interference by Trump's Renfield, Boris Epshteyn.  It didn't help that the client boasted to his yuge CNN audience about how he took the stuff and he doesn't care who knows it.  Now a voice from the past, Ty Cobb, who saw the "town hall" too, says there's so much "evidence of guilty knowledge" that for sure Trump is headed to prison.  America is awaiting the Ministry of Truth Social attack on Cobb and his silly mustache and what a bad lawyer he was.  Meanwhile Trump (pretending to be his lawyers) has written to Merrick Garland requesting a meeting about the "ongoing injustice."  It's hilarious.

It's hard to work up much anger at Target and its decision to pull Pride merchandise off the shelves.  Retail employees are hard to hold these days, doubly so when they're getting death threats from MAGA morons.  "Hey, I just work here" doesn't cut it when the mob is baying for blood.  There are other places to shop whose "commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community" is a little more courageous.

Read Amanda Gorman's poem.  Then listen to Tina Turner, who died today.  You'll feel less alone.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Our infinite variety


Sai Varshith Kandula, described as a truck driver from Chesterfield, Missouri, was arrested last night after repeatedly ramming a barricade near the White House.  The Secret Service reported finding a swastika flag in his truck, causing the right to scream "FALSE FLAG!"  Because how could an Indian be a Nazi?  But Kandula was born here, he's only nineteen, and there's always room in the Republican Party for more Nimarata Haleys and Vivek Ramaswamys.  Let's pause to celebrate our all-inclusive fascist movement, its Jews, Blacks, gays, women, hell, give everybody swastika!  Surely they will succeed where the Paleo-Nazis (Aryan only) ultimately failed.

Over at Wonkette, where the sources are better, they reveal more names of Americans who better not try to visit Russia -- and it keeps getting weirder:  Letitia James, former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Brad Raffensperger, but not Fani Willis.  Brian Williams (?) and Joe Scarborough but not Mika Brzezinski.  Mark Esper.  Governors Jared Polis (Colorado), Josh Shapiro (Pennsylvania), Christine Kotek (Oregon) and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Arkansas).  Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer "who killed Ashley Babbit [sic] during the so-called 'Assault on the Capitol'."  Jack Smith, you betcha!  Gina Ortiz Jones, Undersecretary of the Air Force.  So many names you'd need a government directory to identify.  I don't know what the RAND Corporation and the Carnegie Endowment did to get up Russian noses but keep it up, guys.  If I had to pick a favorite it would be "Stephen Tyrone Colbert, American television host, comedian, actor and writer."  The one with the glasses?  

Major oversight:  E. Jean Carroll.  Since the man who raped her is physically incapable of shutting up, Carroll has asked the judge to amend her successful suit and order further punitive damages.  He's already ranting about it so this will probably end only when one of them dies.  

Purges are an old Russian tradition and one that endures.  Deputy Science Minister Pyotr Kucherenko "became ill" on a flight from Cuba and died at age 46.  According to Russian journalist Roman Super, Kucherenko told him, "You can't imagine the degree of brutalization of our country.  You won't even recognize Russia in a year," and urged him to leave, describing the "special action" as "this fascist invasion [of Ukraine]."  

To end on a happier note, it seems that gravity in Russia is indiscriminate in its victims.  All kinds of sources report that Putin fell down some stairs and shat himself in his Moscow residence, possibly because of bowel and stomach cancer.  Such a pity, and he's only 70.

Forget Moby Dick.  Meet White Gladis.  Perhaps because of a traumatic collision with a boat, this female orca has been attacking boats off the Iberian coast.  Gladis is also teaching this behavior to other adult orcas, who in turn teach their young.  That's right, an orca army is forming up, fed up with the weird land species that makes life miserable or impossible for so many other life-forms.  The animals who have made the oceans hotter and filthier.  Us.  We are now the prey and Heaven have mercy on us all, Presbyterians and Pagans alike.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Losin' it

 Vladimir Putin is losing his war and his mind.  In the wake of the humiliating Glorious Victory parade comes a list of still more Americans who cannot visit Mother Russia.  I can't find a complete tally but I am reminded of a line from Victor/Victoria, a movie which can no longer be shown in either St. Petersburg (Russia) or St. Petersburg (Florida):  Fired from his cabaret job for provoking a riot, Toddy (Robert Preston) observes, "Being thrown out of this place is significantly better than being thrown out of a leper colony."

Brace yourself, it's a deeply schizophrenic list:  Barack Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Rachel Maddow, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Rob Reiner, Morgan Freeman, Erin Burnett, Joe Scarborough, Hunter Biden, you see where this is going, right?  No, you don't:  Marjorie Taylor Greene and Bob Casey also made the cut, along with deceased John McCain and Orrin Hatch.  If you think you're among the Fortunate 963, check with the State Department or your local Aeroflot office.  (Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson are still welcome.)

It could be worse.  The Russians want to arrest Karim Khan, a British prosecutor with the International Criminal Court who has the arrest warrant for Putin.  The Russians don't even deny that they are abducting Ukrainian children and giving them to Russian families, as the Nazis did with Polish children who "looked Aryan."  Shamelessness helps.

The deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar says fighting between Ukrainian forces and the Wagner Group (nobody pretends the Russian army is doing anything but looting now) is "critical" in Bakhmut.  Meanwhile a UN report says the Wagners murdered five hundred civilians in Mali last year as they warmed up for atrocities in Ukraine.

Russia continues to shred its own culture sector with the arrest of theater director Ivan Vyrypaev  and film producer Alexander Rodnyansky for criticizing the Russian army.  Dictatorships are very touchy about their military (see People's Liberation Army v. Li Haoshi).  A month ago the Bolshoi was forced to cancel a new ballet about Rudolf Nureyev for violating the ban on "LGBTQ propaganda," which is nearly as strict as Florida's.

Despite fighting an all-in war for survival, the Ukrainian government continues its efforts to root out corruption, a prerequisite for joining the European Union.  The head of the country's Supreme Court was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes (these Benjamins were discovered in a sofa).

John Roberts, it can be done.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

How to Governate

 Yesterday Robert Garcia (D-CA) introduced a motion to expel criminally indicted liar George Santos from the House.  As was predictable, the Republicans indignantly voted it down and sent the matter to the House "Ethics" Committee.  Because they are dicks they then retaliated by trying to expel Adam Schiff, who is not under indictment but is the subject of much speculative double-talk in every Trumper's bedside book the Durham Report.  According to Florida product Ana Paulina Luna Livia Plurabelle, Schiff invented the relationship between Russia and the FBI to steal the 2016 election from Trump and generally destroy His Majesty's reputation.  As if Trump would collaborate with Russians, he who regularly humps the Stars and Stripes.

"When Democrats do something for the right reason, [Republicans] use the precedent to do something for the wrong reason," observed Schiff, in words that should be memorized by all humans.  Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, so Schiff isn't going anywhere except probably the Senate in 2025.

Over at the new subcommittee on "weaponization" of the government, Chairman Shirtsleeves promises to give time to all the looniest conspiracy theorists, beginning with a couple of agents the FBI fired for promoting vaccine lies, election denial and support for the January 6 coup.  Gym has a needlepoint cushion that says "Branded a terrorist by the SPLC?  Come sit by me."  If you want to warm up the old Benghazi there are many sites that track the spiraling paranoia of the right.  Wired is one of the best.

As Republicans enforce their hatred of the transgendered through legislation, a medical brain drain has begun.  States like Idaho and Texas are seeing doctors depart for places where they can practice medicine and not politics.  When the next pandemic arrives, try to be sure you live somewhere else.

Are you a governor from one of the tumbleweed states (North Dakota) who dreams of living in the big city (Washington)?  Have you cut public spending and taxes to balance the budget?  Have you criminalized certain types of health care?  Have you used force to stop environmental protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation?  If so, you may have convinced yourself that you, Doug Burgum, are the man Republicans are yearning to see run for president.  Don't look back, Asa Hutchinson, something might be gaining on you.

He seems nice.