Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Saturday, December 31, 2016


This time, it's the End of the Year Meme Dump, which will consist of memes that either did not make it to the blog, or were so good that I had to re-publish them. Might be hard to tell the difference.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Harry Truman

Remember the old phrase, "Give 'em hell, Harry!"?  The 'em was the GOP.  But in response to that statement, Harry Truman said, "I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."

Flash to today when no Democrat I am aware of is willing (or able) to give the GOP hell. They have all been consumed by the PC crap. I can't recall the last time we had a fighting Democrat. Now they all want to run the middle ground and try to "reach across the aisle." It doesn't seem to matter that the GOP continually slaps the hand away, they still try. To which, I have to say, FUCK THAT! See where it gets you?! Donald Fucking Trump and an overwhelming GOP majority.

So here is a long snip from a Harry Truman speech back in 1948 just to remind Democrats that, yes, you CAN be successful as a Democrat and still spit fire at the opposition. 

The entire speech can be found here.

Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States: 1945-1953. Address in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Municipal Auditorium, October 13, 1948.

Democracy is a matter of faith--a faith in the soul of man--a faith in human rights. That is the kind of faith that moves mountains--that's the kind of faith that hurled the Iron Range at the Axis and shook the world at Hiroshima. 

Faith is much more than efficiency. Faith gives value to all things. Without faith, the people perish. 

Today the forces of liberalism face a crisis. The people of the United States must make a choice between two ways of living--a decision, which will affect us the rest of our lives and our children and our grandchildren after us. 

On the other side, there is the Wall Street way of life and politics. Trust the leader! Let big business take care of prices and profits! Measure all things by money! That is the philosophy of the masters of the Republican Party. 

Well, I have been studying the Republican Party for over 12 years at close hand in the Capital of the United States. And by this time, I have discovered where the Republicans stand on most of the major issues. 

Since they won't tell you themselves, I am going to tell you. 

They approve of the American farmer-but they are willing to help him go broke. 

They stand four-square for the American home--but not for housing. 

They are strong for labor--but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights. 

They favor a minimum wage--the smaller the minimum the better. 

They indorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools. 

They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine--for people who can afford them. 

They approve of social security benefits-so much so that they took them away from almost a million people. 

They believe in international trade--so much so that they crippled our reciprocal trade program, and killed our International Wheat Agreement. 

They favor the admission of displaced persons--but only within shameful racial and religious limitations. 

They consider electric power a great blessing-but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. 

They say TVA is wonderful--but we ought never to try it again. 

They condemn "cruelly high prices"--but fight to the death every effort to bring them down. 

They think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. 

And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. 

Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way--there is another way--the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party. 

Of course, the Democratic Party is not perfect. Nobody ever said it was. But the Democratic Party believes in the people. It believes in freedom and progress, and it is fighting for its beliefs right now. 

In the Democratic Party, you won't find the kind of unity where everybody thinks what the boss tells him to think, and nothing else. 

But you will find an overriding purpose to work for the good of mankind. And you will find a program--a concrete, realistic, and practical program that is worth believing in and fighting for. 

Now, I call on all liberals and progressives to stand up and be counted for democracy in this great battle. I call on the old Farmer-Labor Party, the old Wisconsin Progressives, the Non-Partisan Leaguers, and the New Dealers to stand up and be counted in this fight. 

This is one fight you must get in, and get in with every ounce of strength you have. After November 2d, it will be too late. It will do no good to change your mind on November 3d. The decision is right here and flow. 

Against us we have the best propaganda campaign that money can buy. 

But we are bound to win--and we are going to win, because we are right! I am here to tell you that in this fight, the people are with us. 

With a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, you will have the right kind of unity in this country. 

We will be unified once more on the great program of social advance, which the Democratic Party pioneered in 1933. 

We will be unified in support of farm cooperatives, rural electrification, and soil conservation. 

We will be unified behind a housing program. 

We will be unified on the question of the rights of labor and collective bargaining. 

We will be unified for the expansion of social security, the improvement of our educational system, and the expansion of medical aid. 

Moreover, we will be unified in our efforts to preserve our prosperity and to spread its benefits equally to all groups in the Nation. 

Now, my friends, with such unity as this, we can secure the blessings of freedom for ourselves and our children. 

With such unity as this, we can fulfill our God-given responsibility in leading the world to a lasting peace.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

TPW PBS show

Texas Parks & Wildlife produces a regular 30-minute program that usually airs on PBS. A new show will premiere late Jan 2017 and the trailer is included in this program. I get so tired of fiction re-treading the same old themes. Give me reality, please!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Google Pixel

On Christmas Eve, the wife and I switched our wireless phone provider to Verizon from Sprint. At the same time, we traded in our two HTC One M9 phones for two new Google Pixel phones. We're keeping our same phone numbers. So far, we absolutely LOVE the Pixel phones. And since Verizon is the dominant (and strongest) carrier on South Padre Island, it's another piece of the puzzle in place.

I found some Pixel videos on YouTube and posted one here. The others are at the link below.

Other videos are here.

Here is a story about why the Google Pixel may have the best smartphone camera EVER.

And here is a story that says the Google Pixel is 'comfortably' the best smartphone of 2016.

What is rather odd about the phone is that Google apparently did not even bother to create a User's Manual. If you can find one, let me know. All I can find are various tips and tricks, but still, it's a fantastic phone.

Happy Solstice to us!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

solar passes natgas?

Solar power is getting so cheap and pervasive that trying to go back to coal mining (a la the Orange Liar) is going to be stupid and damn near impossible. It's still rather hard to believe that that idiot will be in the White House.

Solar Projects Are Moving Ahead – And Will Soon Overtake Natural Gas In U.S. Energy Production

While President-select Donald Trump is picking fossil fuel industry insiders for key Cabinet positions, such as Exxon CEO Rex Tiller and “Mother in Love with Fracking” Amy Oliver Cooke, solar energy projects continue to move forward. In fact, when all is said and done, 2016 could very well go down in history as the year that solar energy overtook natural gas.
This is according to new data from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), estimating that solar electrical energy generation will outpace that from natural gas by 9.4% this past year.
This month, about of an estimated 25.73 gigawatts of electrical energy generated, over 63% will have been generated by solar and wind-powered facilities. Natural gas still outpaces wind (31% vs. 26.4%), but taken together, renewables come out the clear winner.
And how much of this was generated by coal and petroleum? A mere 0.3 gigawatts, accounting for only just over 1% of the total.
These figures won’t be confirmed until March, but if these estimates turn out to be accurate, it represents a 200% increase in solar generation capacity over 2015. This represents a total of 9.5 gigawatts, enough to power a city the size of San Diego, California.
Tim Shear, who is an economist for the EIA, points out that if everything goes according to plan, “2016…would mark the first year that solar was the largest source of capacity.”
By all indications, renewable energy will continue to grow. Since this past January, the amount of renewable power generated in the U.S. has increased each and every month. As of the end of September, solar power capacity in the U.S. came to 35.8 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). That accounts for nearly 40% of all new electric generating capacity in the country.
What accounts for this growth? First of all, the cost of solar panels, like most new technology, has fallen dramatically in recent years. There was also an extension of the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit by Congress in 2016. It offers a 30% tax credit for solar systems installed on residential and commercial buildings, and has led to a 1600% increase in solar capacity over the past decade.
The question now is, will these trends continue under an Administration that is likely to be beholden to coal and oil interests? For years, the Rethuglicans in CON-gress, firmly in the back pocket of the fossil fuel industry, have been doing their level best to convince America that renewable energy is not viable.
Yet Germany has shut down 8 of 17 nuclear power plants and plan to take the rest offline by 2022. As of two years ago, Germany was meeting 78% of its electricity needs using renewable sources. 50% of it came from solar.
Consider that Germany lies in a region hardly known for its sunny climate. Yet, the U.S. has vast areas of land in the Southwest that receives an average of 300 days of sunshine a year.
So…what is our excuse? (Don’t answer that – we know.)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

the better man

Somehow through it all Barack Obama has maintained the steady cool that amazes those on the left and infuriates those on the right. Well, almost all on the right.

From The Daily Kos:

Emerging Christian pastor to President Obama: For 8 years, I've watched you be the better man.

With less than one month left until his final day in office, stories of appreciation for President Obama are beginning to flood social/traditional media — and rightfully so. One North Carolina Christian pastor published his token of thanks to President Obama months ahead of the crowd. John Pavlovitz of North Raleigh is becoming more and more well known by liberals and progressives for his outspoken left-leaning blog pieces relaying his disdain for misogynistic and hateful men like Donald Trump and the RW Christian Trump supporters — and Pavlovitz’ gratitude for women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, which went viral.
In this open letter to President Obama, Pavlovitz writes about how history will secure the President’s grand legacy and body of work. After watching President Obama for eight years, Pavlovitz shares his observations. Here are some excerpts from his June piece.
  • I’ve watched the way you’ve absorbed a billion body blows from your critics; brutal words that run far deeper than policy or platform, words composed within poisoned hearts long before you served a single day in office.
  • I’ve watched you bombarded with a daily molotov cocktail of white privilege and hidden or overt racism disguised as objective opposition.
  • I’ve watched your wife and children attacked with a ferocity and malevolence that defy any sense of decency and that have no precedence.
  • I’ve watched your birthplace called into question, your personal faith ridiculed, your very humanity discounted.
  • I’ve watched you endure the incessant, bitter venom of those for whom the color of your skin was always going to be a problem.
  • And through all of it, I’ve watched you be the better man.
Pavlovitz tells President Obama that “In the face of a sustained, spitting, violent, raw-throated hatred, you’ve never responded in kind.” He writes that Obama never allowed himself to be defined by bigotry and never disrespected his critics — by becoming them. This, Pavlovitz says, will be President Obama’s greatest legacy.

The truth is, many of us understand that the Evangelical Right, the NRA, FoxNews, and far too many ordinary folks living here were simply never going to be okay with a man of color leading them and succeeding—and yet you have done both. 
Eight years later, those same people still strain to bait you into reciprocating bitterness and in fulfilling their toxic prophecies of you, while you simply continue to do what you do with nobility, compassion, good humor, and steadfast, unapologetic conviction.
“You live the grace so many Christians invoke but rarely model,” writes Pavlovitz and adds, as a father himself, he realizes his children are always watching him, taking cues from the way he treats people and how he responds to adversity. He knows his children watch how he cares for those in pain, how he handles mistreatment and that his words will always be secondary to his conduct. Pavlovitz writes the President, “This is where I find my deepest gratitude for you in these days,” and says,  “For eight years you have worked for those who have been marginalized, even while so many have sought to marginalize you. “
The pastor adds that he and so many others are trying to live passionately yet with integrity and are committed to standing upon principles and never upon people. He says, “We are seeing the way you’ve done it and are moved to move similarly together.”

So you’ll forgive me if I speak informally right now, and if I use words used often brandished by your critics to undermine the work you’ve done and the life you’ve lived and the character you’ve shown.
Without a trace of irony or sarcasm, let me simply say:
Thanks, Obama.
This. Once again, John Pavlovitz proves there are Christians out there who actually follow the words of Christ, who actually care deeply about others, and who are not afraid to speak out against religious hypocrisy. More, please - and thank you, Pastor Pavlovitz

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

another true meaning

Everyone argues about the season but no one does anything about it!

The True Meaning of Christmas (That Everyone Forgets)
by David Wong

Let's say we find out an asteroid is going to hit the earth at some point over the next three months. It may kill all of us, it may kill some of us, it may splash harmlessly into the ocean -- but there is no stopping it. All we can do is hunker down and see what happens. How would you react? How would humanity as a whole react? Well, I know how: we would prepare as best we could, and then we would surround ourselves with the people we love most and party our asses off. We would do it, because we would realize it might be our last chance. I know this, because we have Christmas.
Allow me to explain.
Get some cocoa, and get comfy. Here's some background music.
This is the time of year when my Christian friends remind me via Facebook image macros that Christ is the reason for the season, and my atheist friends remind everyone that "Christmas" is at best a renamed pagan orgy and at worst a crass hybrid of religious conditioning and economic stimulus ("God became a man to save us from sin, so let's get into a fistfight over the last PlayStation 4 at Target!"). Well, let me take the bold stance that if you're using Christmas as an excuse to be a dick to somebody, you're probably doing it wrong. The real origins of this holiday are amazing, sacred, and etched into your very DNA, if not by God then by evolution. There's enough magic here for everybody, damn it.
It's hard to understand why Christmas came to be a big deal even for people who have never stepped foot inside a church without understanding the context. And the context -- which does predate Christianity by thousands of years -- is that December kicks off winter in the Northern hemisphere. And for most of human history, winter meant a bunch of us were going to freaking die.
Purestock/Purestock/Getty ImagesSo like this, but with corpses piled up under the tree instead of gifts.
We're so detached from that idea today, when the cold means nothing more than mild annoyance and sometimes slippery roads, that it's hard to grasp how recent this was, and that this was the way of things for virtually all of human history. Every year, you headed into winter with just enough stored food and fuel to get by. The old and the sick knew they might not make it through, and an especially harsh winter could mean no one would feel the sun's warmth ever again. Every year, you watched all of the plants turn brown and shrivel into husks, followed by an unrelenting darkness and cold that threatened to swallow you and everything you love.
And looking back at that, we see an awesome little portrait of exactly how much humans kick ass. Every year, you see, winter arrived with a short day followed by the longest night of the year (aka the winter solstice), and since before recorded history, humans have been celebrating that day with a feast, or festival, or outright debauchery. On that longest night before the frozen mini-apocalypse, in all times and places you would find light and song and dancing and food. Cattle would be slaughtered (to avoid having to feed all of them through the winter), families would travel to be together, and wine would flow. Precious supplies were dedicated to making decorations and gifts -- frivolous things, good for nothing other than making each other happy.
Wiki CommonsSure, some of the kid toys ended up looking like fetish gear, but the spirit and intent were pure.
These celebrations went by many names over the millennia, and everyone did it their own way. But deep down, I think the message was always the same: "We made it through another year, some of us won't see spring, let's spend a few days reminding each other of what's good about humanity." Or, I'll just let you read my favorite Christmas quote, from esteemed essayist Dan Harmon:
No matter how black, white, male, female, Irish, German, tall, short, ugly or pretty you felt this year, you are part of a family that has been targeted by an unforgiving cosmos since its inception but has, regardless, survived ... humanity, warts and all, is an inherently heroic species that has spent about 99.99% of its short lifetime as an underdog. And If you see no billboards telling you that, it's not because it's not true. It's because there's little to no profit to be made telling you.
I could go on and on about the suffering we've endured and the adaptations we've made, but to me, our species' crowning jewel is that on the shortest day of the year, when the sun spends most of its time swallowed, when everything is frozen, when nothing can grow, when the air is so cold our voices stop right in front of our faces ... we put a string of lights on a universe that is currently doing nothing to earn it. We not only salvage an otherwise desolate time of year, we make it the best time of year.
MSPhotographic/iStock/Getty Images"Winter: we have eggnog."
"Wait," you might say, "so your inspirational, 'true meaning of Christmas' is that we should remember how our filthy ancestors used to freeze to death on a regular basis?" No, Christmas isn't magical because of what it was, or where it came from. It's magical because that's what it still is.
See, around this time of year, my social media also fills with friends and acquaintances half-joking about having to tolerate the holidays around their extended family, people they only see once or twice a year with whom they have nothing in common and don't like talking to. It all seems so arbitrary to them, a holiday that as a kid meant free toys and as an adult means travel, shopping, and trying to remember the name of your cousin's new wife while the two of you make awkward conversation around the eggnog fountain. But that's only because we're separated from that ancient, unspoken truth, which is that this festive gathering around the fire might be the last time you see those faces.
And that part hasn't changed.
estt/iStock/Getty ImagesThough, admittedly, some of the particulars are a bit different.
This will be read by tens of thousands of people, and statistically, some of you are in fact traveling to see your grandparents, or parents, or siblings, for the very last time. You don't know it's their last Christmas, of course -- if you somehow knew, you'd do it differently. You'd try to stretch out those moments, you wouldn't spend conversations nervously looking for an exit point, you'd spend a little more time digging up old memories and laughing about your shared past. You'd spend less time worrying about the gifts and the budget, and more about how we're spending the precious little time we have left. Once upon a time, nobody needed that reminder that life was short -- the holiday was the reminder. You hugged your family extra tight because, to quote the HBO series all the kids are watching these days, "Winter is Coming."*
*The Alex Winter Show
Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images"Joke all you want, but you have no idea how much Tinder mileage I've gotten out of that line."
So in my mind, the Christians complaining about people losing sight of the real meaning of the holiday are right, in the sense that people do forget that it's supposed to be about generosity, and redemption, and forgiveness, and clinging to hope in a world turned dark, cold, and cruel. But it stood for those things before it was called Christmas. It stood for those things back when religion wasn't just something you did out of obligation to some tradition, or a set of ceremonies you performed in order to join a tribe or political party. No, back then if the sun didn't shine on your crops, you had to watch your children slowly die. So you got on your knees and begged the sun to shine. You pleaded for the rain to fall, for the plague to pass your family by, for the winter to go easy on you this year. It was a time when it was so much harder to pretend that the universe was under our control, when all you could do was look up at the sky and beg it for mercy.
And then, receiving no immediate answer, we would gather around the fire and eat rich food and sing songs and give gifts. Because while we waited for the frozen gray skies to render a verdict, all we had was each other and the warmth of our generosity.
James Thew/iStock/Getty Images"Not having to resort to eating each other truly is the greatest gift of all."
But that was a long time ago. Our problems are less dire and immediate these days, and as a result, we forget that we're still the same fragile creatures we were then. And if you think that's all a big downer, this idea that Christmas (or the solstice, or Saturnalia) was all about the last hurrah before a slow death by freezing or starvation, you're looking at it the wrong way. I mean ... look around you. This is humanity in a nutshell: when faced with the cold specter of death, we put on a festive sweater and eat cookies and sing songs about a jolly supernatural being who brought joy to our lives, before the spring came along and he melted, leaving only his hat behind.
Warner Bros.I am of course referring to the classic Christmas parable, Gremlins 2.
Soon, many of you will be sitting in a room with laughing kids who won't be kids much longer, and proud grandparents who won't be around much longer, and it probably won't occur to you that all of it is as tenuous as a snowflake on a dog's nose. It won't occur to you that there will never be another Christmas exactly like this one, that time will move on and people will change and that some day your most treasured memories will be things that at the time you experienced with nothing more than detached, mild annoyance.
So, if you're gathering with your family and friends this time of year, I personally don't care what you call the holiday as long as you celebrate it with this in mind:
You don't get many of these. Make them count.

The Resistance

Yes, it looks like we will have a quisling government.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Charles Pierce

You can count on Charles Pierce to give you some unadorned commentary. It will likely piss you off, if you are a Democrat, that is. He now has a steady gig at Esquire magazine and has become a frequent contributor to MSNBC. FOX would never have him on.

Donald Trump is President Because We Cannot Face the Truth
by Charles Pierce

Nobody who's been watching the goings-on in places like Scott Walker's Wisconsin, or Pat McCrory's North Carolina, or the independent failed state of Brownbackistan out there just south of Nebraska for the last few years could seriously have believed we would find 37 Republicans at the state level around the country whose political principles contained sufficient iron to allow them to stand up against the onrushing catastrophe.

So Monday's voting among the various presidential electors was as much a formality as it ever has been, even though the current president-elect fits every single criterion set down by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 68—low character, foreign influence, etc. etc.—as a reason for electors to go into business for themselves. If there is a modern parallel, it's the attempt to recall Walker in Wisconsin back in 2013. That effort failed, despite having gathered over a million signatures, largely because, faced with the opportunity to be full-grown citizens, the people of Wisconsin thought that the recall cost too much and that removing Walker from office was just going to be too…much…bother.

So it was on Monday. There were people who braved the cold to hoot and holler; in Wisconsin, there was even a protest inside the room where the state's electors were meeting. The vote lasted 15 whole minutes.

On Sunday, on CNN, host Michael Smerconish argued that electors should ignore the criteria for actual presidents set down by Hamilton this time around because the electors themselves didn't meet that Founder's exacting standards, either. But running through all the commentary was a sense of terror that, one day, the country might actually decide to live up to its founding principles, rather than simply slapping on the old tricorn and yelling about taxes. There are terrible truths about this nation that the public cannot be allowed to know, lest it act on them in ways that disturb the horses.

It was this terror out of which the Warren Commission was formed. It was this terror that kept Lyndon Johnson from revealing Richard Nixon's treason to the world and to Hubert Humphrey. It was this terror that engendered Nixon's pardon. It was this terror that allowed the Reagan campaign to dodge how it may have fudged the release of the hostages in Iran, and it was this terror that allowed Reagan himself to skate on Iran-Contra. It was this terror that welcomed the meddling of the Supreme Court in the Florida recount of 2000.

It was this terror that allowed the Bush administration to elude its accountability regarding the events of September 11, 2001, or to be called to account entirely for how and why it ran the country into war in Iraq. It is this terror from which comes the impulse to look forward and never back. (On that same show, it should be noted, Smerconish hosted Bill Mitchell, the man who designed the "enhanced interrogation" techniques on behalf of the Bush administration. The torturer is on a book tour these days, instead of decorating his cell at The Hague.) And, I suspect, it is going to be this terror that will soften the findings of whatever "special" committee of the Congress is empaneled to look into Russian ratfcking and any other curiosities arising from the 2016 campaign.

If we really were who we say we are, politicians wouldn't be so quick to decide on our behalf that we're not ready to learn the truth about who sank the Paris Peace Talks, or that we're not ready to hold a criminal presidency accountable, or that we're not ready to learn the entire truth about the murder of a president in broad daylight. (LBJ had to blackjack Earl Warren into chairing that commission, and he put Senator Richard Russell on it before telling Russell he'd been named.) They would feel so safe in doing so. But we put our self-governing impulses into a blind trust so long ago that we don't even remember doing it anyway, and thus does Donald Trump become the 45th president of the United States, god help us all.

Original. Ha! What's god got to do with it?!

Friday, December 16, 2016


This blog will be moving from Blogger to WordPress in a little while. Within a month, more or less. Google bought Blogger a few years ago and the service has gone downhill ever since. Maybe someday they will wake up and support the program again.

Apps sometimes just vanish, never to be seen again. Sometimes they restore the lost functionality, but they usually don't. And the old adage is true: you get what you pay for. Blogger is a free platform; WordPress is not.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

internet speeds

The US ranks 12th in the world in average internet speeds. We're #12! We're #12!

But our new internet connection on South Padre Island clocked at 70Mbps! Rock and roll!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Grant expels the Jews

It's fascinating to discover parts of history that you had never heard before. Sometimes it's a little scary, because I can't help but wonder what other things I am not aware of that might make me think a little differently or would today cause a little shock, amazement or embarrassment. Like this one...

From The History Channel

On December 17, 1862, during the Civil War, U.S. Army General Ulysses S. Grant, the future 18th president of the United States, issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews suspected of engaging in war profiteering from a region occupied by the Union Army.
Grant was commander of the military’s administrative “department” of Tennessee (consisting of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi) and was in charge of issuing trade licenses. Although President Abraham Lincoln permitted limited trade in southern cotton, Grant was tasked with shutting down the black-market trade in the cotton industry. Swayed by the commonly held prejudice that Jews were largely responsible for war profiteering, Grant blamed the district’s Jewish community for organizing the illegal trade in black-market cotton.
Grant’s order prohibited the issuing of trade licenses to Jews within the Tennessee district. Furthermore, it required them to leave the district within 24 hours of the order or risk imprisonment. Grant’s zealous underlings immediately began to enforce the order: Entire families were marched out of town with only what they could carry.
According to the American Jewish Historical Society’s research, Lincoln did not know about Grant’s order and expressed surprise when a group of Jewish leaders met with him to protest Grant’s decree. President Lincoln disapproved of the order and expressed his disbelief to Grant in a letter: “a paper purporting to be [issued by you] has been presented here. It expels all Jews from your department. If such an order has been issued, it will be immediately revoked.” Three days later, Grant obeyed the commander in chief’s orders and revoked General Order No. 11. Lincoln later told Jewish representatives that “to condemn a class is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad” and promised to not only rid the country of slavery, but to protect Americans from religious discrimination.
Grant’s reputation was not tarnished by the General Order No. 11 episode. In fact, after the war, most Americans regarded Grant as a hero and he went on to win the majority of the Jewish vote in the presidential election of 1868. As president, he appointed Jews to top federal positions.
Original. Pretty weird, huh?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

woman of the year

Billboard Magazine recently named Madonna their "Woman of the Year." Being a guy, I cannot imagine the challenges that women face in America today, and in the rest of the world. Pretty fucking sad.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Useful Idiots

I can feel myself being slowly pulled back into the political orbit, and it ain't pretty. And BTW, remember that space and time are relative.

Useful Idiots Galore

by Paul Krugman, NYT
On Wednesday an editorial in The Times described Donald Trump as a “useful idiot” serving Russian interests. That may not be exactly right. After all, useful idiots are supposed to be unaware of how they’re being used, but Mr. Trump probably knows very well how much he owes to Vladimir Putin. Remember, he once openly appealed to the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Still, the general picture of a president-elect who owes his position in part to intervention by a foreign power, and shows every sign of being prepared to use U.S. policy to reward that power, is accurate.

But let’s be honest: Mr. Trump is by no means the only useful idiot in this story. As recent reporting by The Times makes clear, bad guys couldn’t have hacked the U.S. election without a lot of help, both from U.S. politicians and from the news media.

Let me explain what I mean by saying that bad guys hacked the election. I’m not talking about some kind of wild conspiracy theory. I’m talking about the obvious effect of two factors on voting: the steady drumbeat of Russia-contrived leaks about Democrats, and only Democrats, and the dramatic, totally unjustified last-minute intervention by the F.B.I., which appears to have become a highly partisan institution, with distinct alt-right sympathies.

Does anyone really doubt that these factors moved swing-state ballots by at least 1 percent? If they did, they made the difference in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — and therefore handed Mr. Trump the election, even though he received almost three million fewer total votes. Yes, the election was hacked.

James Comey, the F.B.I. director, testified in September before a House panel about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. CreditWin McNamee/Getty Images

By the way, people who respond to this observation by talking about mistakes in Clinton campaign strategy are missing the point, and continuing their useful idiocy. All campaigns make mistakes. Since when do these mistakes excuse subversion of an election by a foreign power and a rogue domestic law enforcement agency?

So why did the subversion work?

It’s important to realize that the postelection C.I.A. declaration that Russia had intervened on behalf of the Trump campaign was a confirmation, not a revelation (although we’ve now learned that Mr. Putin was personally involved in the effort).

The pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election — I wrote about it in July. By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site’s growing alignment with white nationalists.

Did Republican politicians, so big on flag waving and impugning their rivals’ patriotism, reject this foreign aid to their cause? No, they didn’t. In fact, as far as I can tell, no major Republican figure was even willing to criticize Mr. Trump when he directly asked Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It has long been obvious — except, apparently, to the news media — that the modern G.O.P. is a radical institution that is ready to violate democratic norms in the pursuit of power. Why should the norm of not accepting foreign assistance be any different?

The bigger surprise was the behavior of the news media, and I don’t mean fake news; I mean big, prestigious organizations. Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people.

Meanwhile, the news media dutifully played up the Clinton server story, which never involved any evidence of wrongdoing, but merged in the public mind into the perception of a vast “email” scandal when there was nothing there.

And then there was the Comey letter. The F.B.I. literally found nothing at all. But the letter dominated front pages and TV coverage, and that coverage — by news organizations that surely knew that they were being used as political weapons — was almost certainly decisive on Election Day.

So as I said, there were a lot of useful idiots this year, and they made the election hack a success.

Now what? If we’re going to have any hope of redemption, people will have to stop letting themselves be used the way they were in 2016. And the first step is to admit the awful reality of what just happened.

That means not trying to change the subject to campaign strategy, which is a legitimate topic but has no bearing on the question of electoral subversion. It means not making excuses for news coverage that empowered that subversion.

And it means not acting as if this was a normal election whose result gives the winner any kind of a mandate, or indeed any legitimacy beyond the bare legal requirements. It might be more comfortable to pretend that things are O.K., that American democracy isn’t on the edge. But that would be taking useful idiocy to the next level.