It Deeply Disturbed Me — To Hear Faux-Christian Mike Pence Had Invoked King, In Favor Of Trump’s Wall…

January 21, 2019 - Leave a Response

No graphic. [But I will re-run the eloquent “Hamilton” closing request video (the cast, speaking to Mr. Pence, who was that night in the audience in Chicago, from Thanksgiving 2016.]

….. Mr. Pence, please — just read MLK’s 1963 letter from that jail cell in Birmingham — not a single word of it supports any wall — nor does the Dream speech. . . nor does even a single day of King’s life.

In sum, then — every word Mike Pence uttered yesterday was false.

Apparently, he and 45 spent a little over two whole minutes today, at the King Memorial. They shot 30 seconds of video, and left. Here’s the odious Pence quote, for posterity:

. . . .“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do,” Pence, 59, remarked. . . .

This is evil. And Mr. Pence well knows it. The real “promise of democracy” applies — in full — to refugees and asylum seekers. They DO arrive lawfully, Mr. Pence. Please read our own laws, Mr. Pence. Start with 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(1). I’m out.

Also, do recall what the cast of “Hamilton” asked of you, now a little over two years ago. It appears above, left.



[Re-Upping, For King Day 2019:] “A Pillar Of Fire” — Is What He Became… But A Complicated One…

January 21, 2019 - Leave a Response

I will probably add no more to the blog — until the date has passed, but please, I implore you — do not collapse his life into a. . . cartoonish mythology.

He was a far more complex, and nuanced thinker than most of the press accounts would suggest. . . . do not lose him, in a sound bite.

If you really want to know the King that his fellow marchers knew (and cannot afford the time to interview them all, yourself) — you must go read all of Taylor Branch’s volumes, on his life. Throughout each volume, Branch’s narrative is meticulous and poetic American history — yet not watered down into the sound-bites so many today traffic glibly to and fro, as an excuse for analytical thinking. I’ll quote just a bit of an older interview of Mr. Branch, to give you a sense:

. . . . “King had crossed over as a patriarch like Moses into a land less bounded by race. To keep going, he became a pillar of fire. . . .”

In an interview in his Mount Washington home, Mr. Branch said he found it striking how Dr. King, in the years before his assassination in April 1968, again and again chose a course that many around him considered wrong, foolhardy and even dangerous.

“To go from winning the Nobel Prize to Selma, to force yourself to do that against the wishes of not only your white allies but also of some of your own movement people — you’re really fighting to take yourself down,” Mr. Branch said. “That ‘downward King’ is really full of passion and difficulty.

“In the early times, King is fighting for success, both for himself and his cause — that is, for recognition. And, finally, it happens. He becomes famous, wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and so forth. Lots of people wanted to celebrate him for that. And the natural tendency is to not jeopardize all that, but that’s precisely what he did. You get the picture of someone who is besieged on almost every side, and is willing himself downward to greater risk because he is driven by his conscience. . . .”

He cited several examples: Dr. King’s involvement in the Selma voting rights campaign, his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War, his decision to move the civil rights campaign north in 1966, and his belief that an ambitious program was needed to end poverty in America.

“It was a revelation to me how controversial the poverty program was among his own people,” Mr. Branch said. “His determination to make that an issue bothered them because it went against their status. It meant associating with the poorest of the poor. The leadership class — the coat-and-tie set, whether they were ministers or NAACP types — had to go out and make common cause with illiterate sharecroppers and the equivalent of the underclass. That was not popular among the movement, and it sure as heck was not popular among white liberals. They thought he was getting out of his element, talking about economic issues instead of morality and how to treat people.

“And, of course, the same was true about Vietnam. There he was altogether out of his element, and not only was he out of his element, but many people who had never shared his cause of civil rights repudiated him, reproached him for damaging his cause by getting out into an area where he didn’t belong.”

As for King’s decision to lead civil rights marches in the Chicago area in 1966, Mr. Branch said: “You’d be surprised at the number of people who didn’t think racism existed in the North and saw it as a peculiarly Southern phenomenon. But after those marches through Gage Park and the Chicago suburbs, they were too vivid for people to ever deny that there was something primordial about race in the North, too. . . .

It is with both joy — and profound sadness — that I will mark the day. Obviously the sadness, for a life stolen by an assassin — far too short of King’s own ambitions — for a more just society. The joy though — that so much of what he hoped for, and dreamed of — has been been rekindled — in a new generation (through the fires lit by an undeniably racist president, and his ilk):

May they, one day soon (in body and spirit) have crossed over, into a land less bounded by race — and now, to keep going, they must become. . . pillars of fire. . . and a good Monday Tuesday morning, to all of like-minded good will.


Well. All. Of. That. Was. Just. Silly…

January 19, 2019 - Leave a Response

Apparently, Trump spoke this afternoon. I didn’t watch. Didn’t need to. This will be brief, because his “big deal” is both devoid of substance, and what is there is. . . a silly mess. In sum, the great dealmaker offers. . . nothing we don’t already possess.

DACA dreamers are, under an existing Ninth Circuit (federal appeals court) order, still continuing to seek and receive deferrals. The program continues, by federal court orders. Trump cannot change that. So his offer of three years, is actually a step backward, toward outlawing dreamers. Preposterous.

Here’s an idea: maybe we let him build him a wall of cardboard, one that bio-degrades in about three years, into mulch for farming — and then, we make DACA permanent, and we permanently revoke Muslim Ban 3.0 (the only Trump xenophobic measure the Supremes let take effect) — oh, and he, McConnell and the Supremes agree to unseat both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch — all in exchange for his $5 billion.

Oh — one more thing: Merrick Garland is immediately a. . . Supreme.

Seems eminently fair, if we are to mirror, in reply — the lunacy-laced Trump World political “thoughts“. [More like “headaches, with pictures” — as Frye (on Futurama) memorably said.]

I guess he pointed to San Antonio as a city where a version the wall has “worked“. The map — any map, actually — would reveal to him that San Antonio is 150 miles away from any national border. He is. . . frighteningly stupid. And he is a felonious liar, to boot. Impeach. Now.

And. . . enjoy the seven inches, one and all. . . smile.

[U X2] I Wish I Could Laugh At The Fact That The President Cannot Spell “Hamburgers”…

January 17, 2019 - Leave a Response

On any given morning, since at least late January of 2017, we have been treated to displays of willful presidential ignorance.

To be sure, many are trivial (mis-spellings — like forrest, countrty, scott-free, madame and hamberder) — but many are simply jaw-dropping, in the ignorance he displays about so many of the fundamental matters: the role (and more importantly, the Constitutional limitations) of his office, in the larger scheme of the American style of ordered liberty — and the rigors of leading, on the world stage.

As just one example, I will note that now over 1,800 Chicago-based federal immigration hearing matters are indefinitely delayed — putting DACA dreamers, refugees, asylum seekers and green card applicants in an awful limbo. The backlog grows longer, by the day. And that’s before we talk about the 800,000 people living without a paycheck his administration owes them. Honest, decent hard working Americans all of them — are facing terrible uncertainty, or worse, due to his vain and illogical tantrum.

[I will not run any original graphic today. But when a clean, embed-ready video of AOC’s “Where’s Mitch?” makes it to GIF land, I’ll paste it here. Do go see it!]

I applaud Speaker Pelosi, for making it plain to Trump that our scheme imagines the legislative branch as a check on his hubris. He should not be invited to Congress, until he ends his own self-inflicted shutdown (with the aiding and abetting efforts, of course, of Mitch McConnell). The House has voted eight times to end the shutdown, with specific CR measures. Mr. McConnell, at Trump’s order, is preventing any Senate floor vote on any of them.

[Updated: I should have mentioned that President Eisenhower warned us, as he left office 59 years ago this morning, of the rise of the “military industrial complex”. . . now loaded with a gravy boat, of graft and self-dealing, under Trump. He was right.]

We truly are in 25th Amendment


The Able Judge Jesse Furman Rules Mr. Ross’ Census “Citizenship” Question… Out Of Bounds, Under The APA.

January 15, 2019 - Leave a Response

This is very good (if rather widely expected) news for those of us who believe Secretary Ross is acting with invidious racial and ethnic animus — when he tries to aid Trump’s DoJ, in “finding” undocumented workers, via the coming 2020 US Census. Now that will never happen, in all likelihood.

Based on half-century old amendments to the VRA, the sharing, and use, of the Census data collected — with law enforcement — has been essentially prohibited by Congress, to ensure that the most accurate data is obtained, for apportionment purposes. And essentially any future power to share such data, has been reserved by Congress, to Congress. Thus, in Manhattan, USDC Judge Jesse Furman correctly ruled (in a 277 page PDF opinion) this morning:

. . .[T]he last time that the census asked every respondent about citizenship was sixty-nine years ago, in 1950. Notably, that is before the VRA was enacted in 1965. In other words, for all fifty-four years that the VRA has existed, the federal government has never had a “hard-count” tally of the number of citizens in the country. Instead, consistent with the requirement to use statistical sampling techniques “if . . . feasible” for everything other than the constitutionally mandated “actual Enumeration,” see 13 U.S.C. § 195, the federal government has extrapolated from citizenship data collected from a subset of the population to model data for the population as a whole, see WILLIAMS, THE 2010 DECENNIAL CENSUS 3.

Since 1950, the Census Bureau and former Census Bureau officials have consistently opposed periodic proposals to resume asking a citizenship question of every census respondent. . . .

[T]here is no basis in the record to conclude that Secretary Ross “actually believe[d]” the rationale he put forward, Defs.’ PostTrial Br. 75, ¶ 49, and a solid basis to conclude that he did not. And while there may well be, as Defendants assert, “myriad” other “legitimate reasons more-precise citizenship data could prove useful to both the federal and state governments,” Docket No. 412, at 30; accord Defs.’ PostTrial Br. 65, ¶ 441, the fact of the matter is that Secretary Ross did not articulate even one. To the contrary, he cited one and only one rationale — DOJ’s request for more granular CVAP data to enhance VRA enforcement — in his decision memorandum, and he affirmatively testified before Congress, under oath, that DOJ’s request was the “sole[]” reason for his decision. See Hearings Before Subcomm. on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies of the H. Comm. on Appropriations, 115th Cong. 15 (2018) (admitted as an audio file at PX-491).

In sum, the evidence in the Administrative Record and the trial record, considered separately or together, establishes that the sole rationale Secretary Ross articulated for his decision — that a citizenship question is needed to enhance DOJ’s VRA enforcement efforts — was pretextual. Because Secretary Ross’s stated rationale was not his actual rationale, he did not comply with the APA’s requirement that he “disclose the basis of [his]” decision. Burlington Truck Lines, Inc., 371 U.S at 167-68 (internal quotation marks omitted). As Defendants themselves have conceded, see May 9 Conf. Tr. 15, that by itself entitles Plaintiffs to relief under the APA. See, e.g., Woods Petroleum Corp., 18 F.3d at 859-60; Latecoere Int’l, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of the Navy, 19 F.3d 1342, 1356 (11th Cir. 1994) (noting that “proof of subjective bad faith” by decision-makers, including “predetermining” the awardee of a government contract, calls for relief under the APA). . . .

Now you know — onward, with a spring in my step — to the trains. Smile.


A Look Back, At Oumuamua: And What It “Might Have Been” — With The Chair Of Harvard’s Astronomy Department…

January 14, 2019 - Leave a Response

More than a year, on. . . I remain skeptical, because such extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence.

But I do quite enjoy reading about what it might — emphasis might — represent:

. . . .[What] if we discover remnants of advanced technologies? They will prove to us that we are only at the start of the road; and that if we don’t continue down that road, we will miss a great deal of what there is to see and experience in the universe. Imagine if cavemen had been shown the smartphone you’re using to record me. What would they have thought about this special rock?

Now imagine that Oumuamua is the iPhone, and we are the cavemen. Imagine scientists who are considered the visionaries of reason among the cavemen looking at the device and saying, ‘No, it’s just a rock. A special rock, but a rock. Where do you come off claiming it’s not a rock?’. . . .”

But it does fire my imagination — just the same — if in fact it is some archaeological evidence of prior intelligence (a solar sail) from near where Vega is now — but it would have left that area, within our neighborhood, long before Vega wheeled into that space. . . you see, it seems it was floating relatively still, like a leaf on a pond, compared to its local group of stars, some 600,000 years ago.

And again, the professor argues this is more evidence of its non-natural origin or course — it was not just a random rock thrown free of one solar system. . . or so the argument runs.

In time, we may know.

Indeed, in time. . . . even if it turns out to have only been a rock — this graceful, roughly Mount Blanc pen-shaped metal-clad rock, is likely from a cosmic ancient river, a river borne of the vestiges of one or more timeless raindrops — and under those raindrops, are the words — and some of those words, are mine to you. Travel well — and do travel light. So it all. . . may end, just this way: unknown.


Two-Thirds Of All The Current DRC Ebola Viral Infections Afflict Women, Where Vast Majority Live In Poverty…

January 11, 2019 - Leave a Response

. . .and so, it makes good epidemiological “combat” sense to have the “Mother Counsellor of Beni“, a voice women trust — a local, long time radio advice on-air persona give the people of Beni unfiltered truths. Between urban legends, and intersectional conflict, the truths about the hard realities of Ebola (safe burial practices, careful and comprehensive disclosures, about ALL contacts, for robust vaccination efforts, and fastidious hand washing, as examples) are more than occasionally swallowed whole, into little more than conspiracists’ rumors.

Ms. Mawatatu is steadily fighting — with the help of WHO — to change all that. She has been on air twice a week since 2007, and is a trusted local voice. People listen and respect her take. This is how to win hearts and minds, in the DRC:

. . . .Twice a week, Mama Mwatatu rises early and makes a two-hour trek from her home in Beni’s Cité Belge neighbourhood in North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the local radio station. For the past 12 years, she has hosted a call-in radio talk show called “Women and Development” and has a devoted audience, earning her the nickname Mother Counsellor of Beni.

In normal times, she dispenses advice on health, relationships and child-rearing. But since this August, Ebola has shaken residents and the city is the base for outbreak response efforts in North Kivu. Mama Mwatatu’s mostly female fans have inundated her with questions: Why aren’t you talking to us about this? We don’t know what to believe. But if you tell us that Ebola exists, then we trust you.

“I told them: ‘Ebola is real, and you have to protect yourself and your family,’” Mama Mwatatu says. “But I wasn’t sure I had all the answers to the more technical questions so I got in touch with the World Health Organization (WHO) for assistance.”

And so Mama Mwatatu teamed up with WHO’s community engagement team and her two weekly shows expanded from 30 minutes to an hour.

The current Ebola outbreak in the northeast of the DRC — the tenth since the disease was identified in 1976 — stands out as the country’s largest. Response efforts have been complicated by insecurity and armed conflict. Another challenge is how this outbreak has disproportionately affected women. . . .

This is a very hopeful story for 2019 — containing this urban outbreak is literally going to be achieved by shifting local perceptions. And those perceptions are not wrong, based on a historical record: more often than not, disease was used as an exploit, in these cities — both by war-lords, and by foreign visitors (looking to run dubiously ethical pharma clinical trials — as recently as the late-1980s). . . so re-building trust (that the Merck vaccine is the best way to arrest this scourge), and identifying all contacts of contacts, for vaccination — will take time, in these cities. But it can be done.

And so. . . onward — let the snow come — “rage on — the cold never bothered me, anyway. . .” smile.


Put A Pin In This, For When The “Trumpian Adder-Wall®” Shutdown Ends…

January 10, 2019 - Leave a Response

Overnight, in San Diego, Ms. L’s lawyers have set forth the rock solid 13 page explanation of why this is an “opt-out rather than opt-in class action settlement. The clearly correct best bit is quoted in blue below. Of course, all the action on all these border cases is effectively stayed as Trump’s lawyers cannot appear, even on a voluntary basis (nominally), for the government, under applicable federal law — without being paid therefor.

[I also write separately related to Merck — and post a graphic — to note that the Supremes have decided not to take up a challenge to the fees Merck owes Gilead, for unclean hands and bad faith, in California — on the patent case pending before Judge Labson-Freeman. Gilead gets to keep about $15 million, in legal fee reimbursement — and need not pay the $200 million Merck was originally awarded at trial. Now you know.]

. . . .This [settlement agreement] is unambiguous that class members must take affirmative action to waive the procedures (“such waiver decisions”), and therefore class members who take no action are afforded relief. This language would be completely different if — as the Government contends — class members were required to submit claim forms to receive relief. The settlement agreement, and the Court’s orders approving the settlement, would describe a claim process, not a “waiver” process, and would likely articulate a requirement to submit a claim form and set a deadline for submission of claims, as is common in other types of class action settlements . . .

So, we now await the “Adderall® induced” idiot’s end of his shutdown, to see what happens next in all this asylum/refugee/border litigation — but the “brown people without papers” clearly hold the upper hand — because they need rely on only three pieces of (very public) paper: the provisions of (i) 8 USC, (ii) our Constitution and (iii) the treaties signed as contemplated thereunder.

Onward, smiling — as I look toward the Gulch this afternoon. . . ever, onward — snow coming in, up here tomorrow night. Lovely. Truly lustrous — and lovely.


Ignoring That DC Lunatic, Tonight — We Will Look Some 300 Million Light Years Off, Into The Night Sky… Powdered With Stars

January 9, 2019 - Leave a Response

[Ahem. I prefer the unwasted grace — of celestial events — even half a Universe away, tonight. . . to those unfolding as the 45 faux-emperor throws another tantrum, in DC.] In this retelling, we have learned that a smallish white dwarf has donned a very powerful radiation emitting “coat of many colors” — (or white-hot ballgown, if you prefer) and has become almost 40 per cent brighter (in x-ray emission waves) than the host black hole (which weighs in at over one million Suns’ mass) it is whirring around — at about half the speed of light. And the pirouette is likely to remain stable, for a few hundred years — an eye-blink — in celestial time, but an entirely welcome eternity, for the dancers invo-loved.

What a performance that would be to behold, from the edges of this far off system. Not unlike watching a long-lost then teen-aged friend, dance at a winter formal, some 22 years earlier, from the edge of some jet black obsidian clad ballroom floor. Whoosh. What a twistingly luminous. . . sight. From Discover online, describing the latest measurements, seen and confirmed by three separate interstellar observatories (Chandra, XMM-Newton and Swift), here:

. . . .The team thinks that these powerful radiation bursts are actually caused by two stars instead of one. The original sighting in 2014 still holds up: a black hole lured in a passing star and tore it to pieces. Some of these stellar shreds, which emit massive amounts of X-ray radiation, were sucked into the back hole. Others, though, remained in the innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO) — the closest spot where objects can orbit a black hole without being devoured by it.

In that dangerously close orbit lies another star, thought to be a tiny, dense white dwarf. Researchers think that the dwarf’s gravity pulled in the bright stellar remnants, creating a halo, or coat-tail, of X-rays around it. These X-rays can be seen every time the star orbits the black hole, which is once every 131 seconds. . . .

The night sky is a blackened road, “powdered with stars. . .” said Milton. And tonight, I can almost see the ballgowns shimmering as they float across that firmament. Smile. So, let’s all forget DC, for a spin. . . I know I will.


Tuesday Night Networks’ Prime Time: Time To Turn Your Tee-Vees… Off.

January 7, 2019 - Leave a Response

. . .If the networks do grant Trump 9 PM EST all airwaves access, that is.

[With a win on Fosamax pre-emption now looking all but assured for Merck, I’ll offer a little political opinion/coverage.] The Donald wants to address the nation tomorrow night — about his temper tantrum/self-inflicted shutdown — and the corresponding illogical, wasteful wall demand. If cable covers it (reaching only a fraction of the US households the networks reach) — so be it — but the three networks should not. It is simply a litany of repeated, and oncoming. . . lies.

At a minimum, if ABC, CBS and/or NBC cover him, Speaker Pelosi or (even better!) Rep. AOC ought to get an “equal time” rebuttal (yes — let’s go all the way back to the early 1960s, and Newton Minnow’s ideals, then). If they don’t here is (according to The New York Times) what our real, adult, non-fascist leaders are working on, this week:

. . . .Speaker Pelosi has said the House this week would start considering individual funding bills to reopen the government. One such bill would be to fund the Treasury Department so that employees for the Internal Revenue Service could return to work as tax filing season begins.

Other bills would provide funding to reopen the Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Interior Departments. . . .

Of course, the Senate has (two weeks ago) voiced unanimous support for the Pelosi CR bill. Senate leadership (R) refuses to let it be put to a floor vote; and 45 had indicated three weeks ago he would sign it. Then he threw a tantrum. I say — let him complain that the networks treated him badly — don’t carry this stunt. And I say — let him try to build the wall with a Presidential slush fund without Congressional approval. Then, let’s win in the courts, and impeach him for derogation of Constitutional imperatives.

Yes — we are at the end-game for his feeble presidency, starting. . . now. And about it all, my step is appreciably. . . lighter. . . Lighter in part, because even Gov. Haslam — in bright red Tennessee — is granting this sexual assault victim clemency, now 15 years on, after being jailed for essentially her entire adult life, after she killed a man who bought her, for sex. That, is. . . justice. Let it continue.