Saturday, January 20, 2018

Women's March, San Francisco

This was a demanding bunch. The Chronicle called the crowd "enormous," whatever that means. I've seen events that felt like this one labelled as anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 people.

Certainly at times, the crush was tight.

As at last year's march, people made their own signs. These were personal statements.

Some were confident.

These young people seemed to feel this was exactly where they wanted to be.

True. But he is an idiot.

This new batch of activists mean to get their way.
I didn't last long in my flu-depleted condition. But it sure was nice to see all this energy, creativity, and determination.

Women's March 2018

Here in San Francisco, folks will head down to Civic Center for the Women's March 2.0. (Likewise in Oakland across the Bay and in every municipality around here.)

Well and good; we need to get together. But probably the most important offshoot of the mass outpouring begun last January will take place in Las Vegas where Power to the Polls, a nationwide campaign of mobilization and voter registration arising from the Women's March, begins its swing through contested states.

“Women's March has created a powerful movement that has ignited thousands of activists and new leaders,” said Tamika D. Mallory, co-president of Women’s March. “ In 2018, we must turn our work into action ahead of the midterms. This new initiative will address voter registration and voter suppression head on. We marched for justice in DC, we created our plan in Detroit and now we’re bringing the power of the polls to Nevada.”

Nevada was rocked by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, recent sexual assault allegations against elected officials, and has become a battleground state that will shape the Senate in 2018. The kick-off event in Las Vegas will bring together talent, musicians, grassroots activists, and elected officials to a key swing state for a large-scale gathering to celebrate the work of the past year and launch a collective 2018 Women’s March agenda.

Watch out: the powerful ladies are coming!
I don't know this morning whether my fluish body is up to attending. Maybe for a little while ...


Great -- the Cheato's combination of white nationalism with political incoherence shuts down the government. He's the president as he likes to remind visitors, so this failure is his turd.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Now US is promoting trade in humans

According to Al Jazeera, the government of El Salvador is investigating whether it can ship off people deported from the United States by the Trump regime to Qatar to serve as "temporary workers." After all, many (especially those whose protected status has been revoked) speak English, a useful lingua franca for Gulf-emirate "guest workers". Now there's a solution to what will be a genuine re-integration crisis in Central America if our white nationalists' wet dreams happen.

Friday cat blogging

Morty and I have spent most of the past week in this posture. I think he has found it more restful than I do. After a couple of hours of strange dreams, I wake up with the feeling that I've somehow fallen asleep in a stream bed. Eventually I realize I'm the source of the rivulets.

This flu too will pass.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Linguist thinks President Shithole has limit to verbal transgressions

Professor John McWhorter, whose audio introductory linguistics course I loved, has predicted that Trump has a limit to the bigotry he'll be willing to express:

Words are treated as profane on the basis of what a society is truly hung up about. And let’s face it — American society as a whole is vastly less worried about taking the Lord’s name in vain or mentioning copulation and evacuation in public than it once was. Rather, what truly concerns us, horrifies us, inspires a desire to shield people from the full force of the language, are words like the n-word, the f-word referring to homosexual men, and the c-word referring to, well, you know.

... Note, however, that speculations that one of these days he might drop the n-word in a similar situation are almost surely fantasy; even with Trump I feel confident writing that for posterity. Even as obnoxious a personage as him would not dare to use that word, or the other two I alluded to, for public consumption. That those words exert a check upon someone as uncontrollable as Trump is a demonstration that they are today’s true profanity.

... However much he indulges in racist code, if Donald Trump were caught on a hot mic crowing that “The niggers just need to shape up” or “If only she’d stop being such a cunt,” it would likely be one of the very few things that actually would spark a sincere effort to eject him from office — so utterly unthinkable in public usage are they. That is, they are profane in the true sense.

McWhorter chronicles the evolution of what this society has considered unspeakable over the last hundred years. We just are no longer much bothered by causal irreligion, shit, or fucking.

He goes on to explain what we are nowadays bothered about:

...hatred toward vulnerable minorities that is truly considered obscene, and ... we euphemize words through which some people express such loathing. We — a few stodgy editors and public-news producers aside —can congratulate ourselves that we recognize that this is the new profanity, not words referring to things like poop and sexual congress.

What Trump probably didn't know until he crossed a line with his "shithole countries" comment is that a substantial and growing fraction of us also extend our sense of the profane to cover denigration of whole countries full of black and brown people. These too are part of those "vulnerable minorities". Onward cosmopolitans; the human future is global, whether we like it or not.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Even the doctor is at risk: #domesticviolence #women

Erudite Partner dragged me and my influenza to Kaiser yesterday. I sure didn't expect to see this on a huge banner next to the check in desk.
In smaller type, she explained:

After six years of dating and living together, I married my husband. Almost immediately, our situation changed dramatically. He went from being very charming and attentive to controlling, manipulative, jealous, and domineering. Although what happened between us never escalated into physical violence, in retrospect it was clearly an abusive relationship. He used verbal abuse, isolation from my family and friends, and poorly concealed threats to control my behavior. He began destroying my possessions and throwing away things of value to me. When I would try to leave a non-productive argument, he would physically block my path.

Even though I am a physician and frequently counsel patients in similar circumstances. I did not recognize that I was experiencing domestic violence. The turning point for me was when his pregnant mistress came to my house to "discuss things." Within two days I had seen an attorney and within eight months we were divorced. At that point, we had been married 15 years and had two children.

Because my husband, his mistress and I all work at Kaiser Permanente, the affair quickly became public knowledge. My entire department and many other staff members knew about my situation. I had the support of all my co-workers who had any knowledge of the situation. I kept working the whole time and because of my emotional upset, I deliberately become more vigilant in the work place. I knew my clinical effectiveness could be affected, so I asked my chief and my medical assistant to keep an eye on me, which was a tremendous help.

It's been four years since the divorce. I recently started dating again and currently have a very supportive partner.

51 year old
Italian, Northern European female
Kaiser Permanente Physician

As for the flu, I've still got it, still shivering and baking, but probably am not on the way to pneumonia. Bakson. This is getting tiresome.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Under assault ...

... a little frayed, but still the banner of hope is still there.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This is where this flu leads

After last night, I may need this place.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Is my discomfort with Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

My Senator, Diane Feinstein, is testing my principles.

I've never much liked her, ever since she was a prissily conventional mayor of my then-wildly unconventional city. I don't think I've ever voted for her. She moved on to Washington in 1992 (one of those evanescent "years of the woman") and has pursued a solid but conventional course as a pragmatic Democrat. Unlike her California Senate colleague Barbara Boxer, she voted for the Iraq war, later saying she'd been "misled" by the GW Bush administration. By the time of that vote she'd been in Washington ten years and ought to have known a thing or two.

And she is currently the oldest sitting Senator in a body which is "the oldest Senate ever." Born in 1933, she was fully an adult before the tumultuous 1960s. For goodness sakes, her daughter took retirement, though not quite joining the Medicare tribe, in 2012! Isn't it time for someone younger to represent California's millennial-dominated, racially diverse electorate? I know I want a Democratic presidential candidate who'll be under 60 in 2020; it's younger folks' turn. I wish Feinstein had decided to retire instead of running again for a term that would end when she is 91. 91!

But she's running -- and I have to ask myself whether my discomfort at the prospect of her re-election is merely ageism.

In the last 10 years, she's used her perch to do work that matters to me, breaking with the "intelligence community" (beware of bullshit whenever anyone uses that phrase without scare quotes) to investigate the Bush regime's torture policies -- and put into public view some tiny portion of the findings. It was Obama, not Ms. Oh-so-uptight Senator Feinstein, who kept the torture report under wraps.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

Lately she's done this sort of work again, releasing testimony about Fusion GPS' role in the investigation of Trump's Russia connections that the Republicans were trying to hide.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

And she most recently put herself out as the Senator who asked Trump to agree to a "Clean DREAM Act" thereby confusing him so much that he verbally contradicted his own cruel policy on DREAMERS and other immigrants.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

Yes, I know, on some level this current Feinstein-in-polite-resistance to Trump/GOPer horrors is the very good product of the tireless work of Indivisible, Move-On, Bay Resistance, and thousands of other activists letting her know her constituents want more and better from her. But hey, that's how democracy is supposed to work and we're getting something for our efforts.

Is my discomfort with Senator Feinstein's re-election merely ageism?

I can't answer my own question right now. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea that I might well vote for an alternative in the June primary just because Feinstein seems "too old." That's not good enough, a violation of my principles. Kevin de Leon, her challenger, has to make the sale with me. He seems to have been a good and useful state senator (I've heard him speak for immigrant rights), but he has to make the case that he'd be a better choice. Feinstein is doing the right stuff for re-election -- let democracy flourish!

Friday cat blogging

What's going on out there?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Republicans got to have someone to hate

Thomas Edsall offers this chart as support for the contention of Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University that the move among white working class males (non-college educated) to Trump in 2016 correlates with areas where Chinese competition and industrial robots have trashed their jobs.

Some part of the swing almost certainly can be accounted for that way. But what jumps out to me is that shifts among white working class males to the Republicans also, and even particularly, correlate with overt expressions of white racism by Republican presidential candidates. Come on, folks -- Reagan always worked for the white supremacist vote, launching his first campaign at the Neshoba Country Fair in Mississippi with a "states' rights" speech. In 1984, his theme was "Morning in America," an only slightly less blatant racist dogwhistle than Trump's "Make America Great Again."

George W. Bush might seem an exception -- except that he too ran hard against a marginalized outgroup: in Bush's case that group was LGBT people. (That backfired quite satisfactorily didn't it? White working class males sometimes have queer children and they like marriage ...) As the working class becomes more brown, the present GOP strategy will also backfire, if we can preserve enough democracy to make people's preferences felt.

Sick day

Bakson. Apologies to A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. Somehow, Disney is not quite up to scruff here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Resist for #NetNeutrality

Via The Root comes word that Democrats have collected enough signatures on a resolution under the Congressional Review Act to force a vote on whether Senators want to preserve net neutrality. (The CRA is the law Republicans have been using to undo regulations issued in the last year of the Obama administration.) This doesn't mean that they are going to have the votes to overturn the Federal Communications Commission order that telecom companies must be allowed to discriminate in pricing for internet service. But it should ensure that every Senator will have to go on record one way or another. That provides an opening for a popular campaign to restore net neutrality which might well change some minds; fully three quarters of us tell pollsters we don't want the FCC to break the internet. We want government regulation to ensure fairness for all.

Confused? Pollsters found that too. Here's an exceptionally clear video explanation of the concepts.
Monique Judge vents her disgust with Trump's FCC chairman Ajit Pai who has led the charge for the corporations:

Now we all sit back and wait to see which company will be the first to rob its customers blind with outrageous pricing tiers.

Now we wait to see which company will introduce internet packages based on which types of services you want to use while accessing the internet.

Now we wait to see just how much Ajit Pai sold out the American people for.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The outrages keep coming

Next to ordering the breakup of hundreds of thousands of Salvadoran families, this may not seem the worst of the Trump/Republican regime's atrocities this week, but I want to note it here.

On Thursday there is supposed to be a Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Howard C. Nielson Jr. to a lifetime appointment as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Utah.

Who is Howard C. Nielson Jr.?
  • Californians may remember him as the lawyer who picked up the defense of Prop. 8., the initiative that outlawed LGBT marriage, after the elected state government declined to represent a measure they thought unconstitutionally discriminatory. Now any of us who look to support the rule of law understand that legal representation ought to be available to any party in a courtroom. But Nielson made it part of his argument that Judge Vaughn Walker, an experienced and acerbic federal judge, who was hearing the case should have been barred because he is gay. His argument: Walker might sometime benefit from the right to get married. Much of the legal world, including the judge, found this mixing of personal identity with the law both offensive and silly. But it certainly fits with Trump's attitude to judges, as when he attacked a Chicago judge for his his Mexican ancestry.
  • Nielson also comes from the clutch of Office Legal Council lawyers in the George W. Bush administration who cooked up legally spurious and morally offensive memos of allowing torture in the War on Terror. Jay S. Bybee, the lead torture lawyer, was subsequently put on the bench by GWB; the judiciary doesn't need another of these guys.
The Alliance for Justice is organizing opposition to terrible judicial nominees like Nielson.

I find I cannot resist reproducing this ...

as a long time fan of the Pirates of Penzance.
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