Late Nightmare Open Thread: “Expertise” Is for LUZERS!!!

It’s not like I trust these particular individuals, but it would be nice if there was someone in the President-Asterisk’s office who knew that electrical outlets were not made for having forks stuck in them. And from what I know of corporate practices (in or out of government), we have to assume that if the top offices are being filled with newbies and know-nothings, then the bureaucratic middle ranks are now divided between nervous people busy shopping around their resumes, and time-servers/incompetents/fellow true believers…

From the company paper in the town whose monopoly industry is national politics, the Washington Post, “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted“:

They are some of the biggest names in the Republican national security firmament, veterans of past GOP administrations who say, if called upon by President-elect Donald Trump, they stand ready to serve their country again.

But their phones aren’t ringing. Their entreaties to Trump Tower in New York have mostly gone unanswered. In Trump world, these establishment all-stars say they are “PNG” — personae non gratae.

Their transgression was signing one or both of two public “Never Trump” letters during the campaign, declaring they would not vote for Trump and calling his candidacy a danger to the nation…

The president-elect has virtually no experience in national security and foreign policy, and his transition team could presumably benefit from the broadest pool of applicants for the influential appointive positions in the State Department, Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security.

But the purportedly blacklisted figures report to their jobs at Washington law firms and think tanks in a state of indefinite limbo as their colleagues, some working in the same offices, are flirting with potential administration jobs.

Last week, the Trump transition held a private briefing for secretary-of-state nominee Rex Tillerson to prepare him for his Senate confirmation hearing. One former Bush national security official who works at a Washington think tank said that some of his younger staff assistants were invited to participate but that he was not. He assumes it was because he signed the letter.

“It’s hostile,” said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of further retribution. “It’s not just that we’re frozen out. . . . I was told they said there was an enemies list.”

Among those who signed at least one of the letters are Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, the first two secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security; two former U.S. trade ambassadors, Carla Hills and Robert Zoellick; two former heads of U.S. intelligence agencies, John Negroponte and retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden; a former ambassador to NATO; and several former deputy secretaries of various U.S. government agencies.
Read more

A Final Thought on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day 2017

While a number of people, both here and other places, have written moving thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I wanted to highlight something we are aware of, but don’t think of enough: the anger that his actions generated. It was almost Newtonian – each action generated an equal and opposite reaction.

(Figure 1: Letter from J. Edgar Hoover, written anonymously, to MLK, Jr.)

(Figure 2: Hate mail sent to MLK, Jr.)

(Figure 3: Hate mail sent to MLK, Jr.)

These are just a sample. And it is important to remember the letter in Figure 1, believed to have been sent by J. Edgar Hoover, was an attempt to drive Dr. King to suicide. Dr. King’s movement, which eventually led to long overdue, long denied progress in the US wasn’t just opposed vehemently at the time, but led to immediate attempts to push it back. His efforts, and those that worked with him and supported him, and the progress they made is just one example of the fitful progress that is made in the US. Every time, from the first founding and the Articles of Confederation to the second founding and the Constitution and Bill of Rights to the post Civil War amendments to the New Deal to the Civil Rights era and the Great Society and to the achievements of the last 8 years, progress has been met with this same Newtonian response. Anger and obstruction while the progress is occurring and an immediate attempt, sometimes successful, sometimes not, to roll it back.

I know a lot of the readers and commenters here are on edge. Once again we are in unsettled times, this has begun to dawn on even a lot of people that voted for the President-elect as his inauguration approaches. And I know many are looking for or thinking about what to do. I can’t answer that, but I can say that whatever strategies arise, and there will likely be more than one, it is important to remember that they are often not what they seem. While Dr. King’s philosophy of non-violence has been codified and commented on, it is important to remember that part of the reason he arrived at this strategy was concern. Concern for the African Americans that would have to survive the backlash and pushback that would be concurrent with his movement’s actions and push for progress on Civil Rights. Even as he was willing to risk his own life, part of his strategic focus and concern was for those who did not have the time, the money, the resources, and the wherewithal to engage in the active portion of his movement. He understood that no progress in the US came without a steep price and an immediate opposite reaction. As a result, his concern for their wellbeing, for what violence could be done to them in an attempt to pressure him to stop, went into his strategic calculus. The movement he led was unable to fully safeguard them, just as, at the end, it was unable to safeguard him.

As the clock ticks and MLK Day turns to the first day of a shortened work week that ends with a Presidential inauguration, remember that progress isn’t always made by the spectacular works of elites and notables, but by the slow, steady, and often routine work of everyone. And remember that whatever strategies you choose to follow as the US moves into new and uncharted territory should include Dr. King’s strategic calculus.

Fucking Bloody Hell, Steve

Looks like we’re gonna need a bigger bed:

That bed was A.) made and B.) is queen size. I don’t think he mussed it all by himself, as that looks like Thurston’s handiwork because three pillows are on the damned floor.

Open Thread: Arrogantly Clueless, or Deliberately Evil?

When it comes to the President-Asterisk’s administration, we’ll never be sure! The Washington Post‘s art critic reports “The controversy behind the painting that will hang at Trump’s inaugural luncheon”:

Since Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985, an American painting has served as a backdrop during the inaugural luncheon, at which members of Congress play host to the newly installed president. When Donald Trump is made the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, George Caleb Bingham’s “The Verdict of the People” will be the chosen painting, hanging on a partition wall behind the ceremonial head table in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

The painting was finished in 1855 by an artist best known for his Mississippi River scenes, which burnished the rough-and-tumble and often violent West into a benign and mythological place, ready for investment, development and full participation in American political life.

“The Verdict of the People,” which shows a large crowd celebrating or mourning election results in a Missouri town, is part of a series of three large canvasses created in the 1850s, each taking up the theme of democratic self- governance… Despite the title, “The Verdict of the People,” and the seeming jubilation of many of the figures in the picture, Bingham was representing a despairing moment in the life of his state, and American politics.

“Bingham is a Whig Painter, using these images to depict a Democratic victory,” says Adam Arenson, associate professor of history at Manhattan College in New York, and an expert on Missouri history. As a Whig, Bingham was anti-slavery while the Democratic Party, at the time, was either proslavery, or complicit in status-quo acceptance of it. “The Verdict of the People” was painted just as Congress passed the disastrous Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which put a future of slavery in Kansas to a popular vote. Thugs from Missouri got in the fray, crossing the border to attack abolitionist settlers. One of the state’s senators, David Atchison, called on his supporters “to kill every Goddamned abolitionist” if necessary to secure Kansas as a slave state.

“Bingham is painting out of a great fear that popular sovereignty and the Kansas-Nebraska act will lead to an irreparable divide in the country,” says Arenson. “It represents a moment when democracy was unable to handle the conflict of the country.”…

And so Bingham’s painting is an almost ideal emblem for a president who came to power on a promise to “Make America Great Again.” Blunt seems to read this painting as a reassuring sign that American electoral politics have always been messy and fractious. But he chose an image that in fact depicts a (likely) proslavery candidate triumphing in the name of an America that denies not only full suffrage, but basic human and constitutional freedoms to its African American population.

The painting’s use at the inauguration also highlights a problem that opponents of the new president will face again and again: Is there method in what appears to be simply blundering cultural ignorance? Is there design in casual remarks and off-the-cuff observations that seem to be deliberately provocative? …

CAPT (ret) Gene Cernan 1934-2017: Rest in Peace

CAPT (ret) Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, has died.

Here is CAPT Cernan’s take on the Right Stuff:

Update at 10:50 PM EDT

Thanks to commenter Another Scott, here’s the restored video of the Apollo 11 EVA:

Stone Cold Killer

I killed a man on twitter just to watch him die:

I’m proud of that one. I am just sick of the fucking bullshit from these religious nutjobs. Especially since a shit ton of these fetus fetishists voted for Trump, just like Jesus would do.


When I lived in Georgia, I had an older friend, a great guy, from nearby to Athens (Greenville) unlike my other co-workers. He will be played by Billy Bob Thornton in the me biopic. We talked about politics a lot because he was the only person I knew who was as mad as me about the 2000 election/selection. One time, I said to him, about all the bullshit Jeb played with voters lists in Florida, “this is just like Mississippi in 1960.” I’d never seen him be anything but jovial before but when I said that he said “you fucking Yankee idiot, you have no idea what it was like down here before Civil Rights. Civil Rights changed everything in the south.”

It’s tough to talk about such an important event without sounding glib, but I’ll give it a try. I think it’s true that most white people, especially up here in the north, don’t appreciate just how enormously important the Civil Rights movement was. I also don’t think most people appreciate how clever a tactician Martin Luther King Jr. was. It wasn’t obvious that non-violence was the right strategy then, I’m not one of those who thinks non-violence is always the answer (and I agree that it’s ridiculous to think victims of state oppression and violence have no right to fight back), but there’s no question that King’s strategy worked brilliantly.

All the great oratory and great music and so on associated with the Civil Rights movement shouldn’t obscure the incredible skill that King and his allies displayed in getting so much ground-breaking legislation passed in just a few years. It didn’t have to happen that way, and it should be remembered a triumph of the mind as much as (or maybe even more than) a triumph of the spirit.

And That’s Pretty Much a Wrap on the House Renovation

The last major project was the construction of my custom desk. We stained it today, and are going to put a couple coats of polyurethane on it to make it impervious to coffee stains, and here it is:

I can’t decide if it needs another coat of stain or not. At any rate, this is going to be my main room (other than the bedroom and the kitchen), since I spend so much time in here, and I am really super excited. I put a couple 2 inch holes in the desk for cables, and have pvc piping underneath the desk, AND LOOK AT ALL THOSE FUCKING OUTLETS. Only computer dorks will totally appreciate this room, I guess, but I am soooo excited to get in there.

I am going to mount my older 42″ tv that is in my living room on the wall above on the bigger desk, daddy’s (my grandfather’s- that’s what mom calls him) antique desk against the wall for actual paper work, and my big lazyboy from the current living room will go in here so I can put adult furniture in the living room that fits the house and a new tv when I can afford to buy furniture, end tables, lamps, a desk, and an area rug. For now it will just be two old couches, but I won’t use the room much anyway so no big deal.

Tomorrow the inspector/appraiser comes and when he is gone, we are going to stain the main stairway, Comcast comes on Wednesday, and after they leave, we are going to put two coats of varnish down, and I plan to move in this weekend. Still waiting on one of you to needlepoint this (from the Money Pit) for me:

Also, in the front entryway, I am going to clean up and hang my great great-grandmother’s old mirror:

It needs some love and attention and I want to really have a good brace and support on the wall, so that will be down the road, too. At any rate, I gathered the crew together for a team picture:

And that’s a wrap. For now, because as people have been fond of telling me, you are never done. I’m going to go take a nap and lock my checkbook and atm card in the safe until December.

And Now a Word from the Professionals

I give you the USMC Small War’s Manual. You want to fight a rebellion? Lead a revolution? Overthrow tyranny? Counter an insurgency? Get to reading!

I’m personally going to the gym…


There’s been a lot written about “resistance” lately, and I’m all for it, and of course it’s a wonderful topic for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I’ve done my share, but never anything like what animal activist (and FOIA ninja) Ryan Shapiro describes:

My first arrest was at Ringling Brothers in 1997. We locked ourselves together using steel pipes to prevent the circus from getting the elephants into the auditorium. For a period of hours, our action shut down the circus (and led Ringling Brothers employees to position the elephants such that they urinated on us, resulting in us marinating in gallons of elephant urine both while locked down at the circus and then later in jail in Southeast DC).

Now, after 146 years of abducting, enslaving, and torturing animals for profit and amusement, Ringling Brothers is shutting down for good. I honestly can’t believe it. However Ringling Brothers’ PR team might spin this, there is simply no question that decades of aggressive animal rights activism of all sorts played a critical role in bringing this behemoth of cruelty to its knees. Amazing. We actually did it. We ended Ringling Brothers.

Now we need to end the rest as well. Whatever your style of activism, go do it. Do it now. Do it more. Do it better. Get the fuck out there and keep doing it. I’m so proud to be part of this great struggle for freedom and justice with all of you. Together we just killed a giant. Now on to the next. Animal liberation now.

The point is not to convince everyone to put their bodies literally right on the line (against animal exploiters or Trump or any other oppressor) like Shapiro and his colleagues did. (Although if you can, more power to you!) It’s to talk about implacability, which I think is a key ingredient of any resistance / revolution. Animal abusers and exploiters know we (the animal rights / animal liberation / vegan community) isn’t going away or relenting–in fact, that we’re just going to get stronger–and that gives us a lot of power.

It’s similar, really, to what I see in this community when a nonhuman or human community member needs help. The community galvanizes, everyone gets focused, people contribute their unique talents and resources, and the job gets done.

Looking forward to people’s thoughts about implacability and other aspects of resistance. One thing that helps is that you don’t focus too much on the opposition and how big and scary it is. You focus on the job, and on supporting your comrades.

Historic Animal Rights Victory – Ringling Brothers Circus Shutting Down

First, in honor of the holiday, I’ll mention that Dexter King is, and the late Coretta Scott King was, vegan. Both saw veganism as a natural extension of Dr. King’s nonviolence philosophy.

Now, onto the victory:

On Saturday, officials of the company that owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it will close in May, ending a 146-year run that dates back to a time before automobiles or airplanes or movies, when Ulysses S. Grant was president and minstrel shows were popular entertainment.

What killed the circus? There are many suspects: increased railroad costs. Costly court battles with animal rights activists that led to an end to elephant acts — and the fact that some people didn’t want to see a show without elephants.

Or with any other captive, tormented creature.

Although some may feel a nostalgic pang, keep in mind that:

1) Ringling was an egregious serial animal abuser and violator of the Animal Welfare Act.

2) Even absent “official abuse” the circus is truly the “cruelest show on earth,” subjecting beautiful wild animals to kidnapping and family separations, prolonged confinements, and cruel “training” methods.

3) You can have some good circus fun absent the cruelty and abuse.

This is a particularly sweet victory coming mere months after SeaWorld’s announcement that it will cease orca breeding and performances, and TripAdvisor’s announcement that it will delist many animal-themed entertainments. One day–and probably sooner than we all think–live-animal entertainment will be considered an embarrassing relic, and we’ll all be grooving on virtual attractions and wondering what all the fuss was about.

There’s been some effort to dilute the role of animal activists in this victory–talk about transportation costs, etc.–so I’ll let Kenneth Feld (chair and CEO of Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment) have (almost) the last word: “In the past decade there’s been more change in the world than in the 50 or 75 years prior to that.”

Thanks to the decades of activists that made this happen, and thanks in advance to the activists who will open even more cages in the future.

They’re Already Here

Institutional momentum is a hell of a thing. Even desiccated institutions that have proved too hollow to perform the functions for which they were designed — e.g., to prevent an unstable, unqualified puppet of a foreign power from ascending to the office of the U.S. presidency — have a heft that keeps them rolling in their well-worn grooves toward a predetermined destination.

That’s why, though we can hope for deus ex machina in the form of a CIA bombshell, etc., we will almost certainly see Putin’s poodle sworn in as POTUS at noon this Friday, with most Democratic lawmakers in attendance. That’s when the real work of the resistance will begin.

But in the meantime, between calling our reps to try to save the ACA, I don’t see why we can’t have a little fun at the expense of the brittle narcissist who is almost certainly furious at the prospect of his inaugural becoming a very public flop that is insufficiently staffed by celebrities and attended by citizens. Read more

Incentives matter

This is why we call. This is why we organize. This is why we politely but firmly get in our representatives faces. Representatives are mostly lazy and they’ll go down the route that promises them the easiest win. We need to change that calculus and making the lives of representatives who are persuadable but currently voting against our interest unpleasant in a legal and above board manner will change priorities. Repeal and not Replace has, in my opinion, a short time frame for the act to be commissioned. It has to happen fast or it won’t happen as more and more of the 218 people who will vote to screw tens of millions of our fellow citizens for ideological reasons will get scared of the blowback. Let’s keep on informing the swingables that there will be blowback.

And let’s make it clear that opposition is a clear winner for any and all Democrats even the ones that drive most of this readership (myself included) nuts during normal times.

But to get away from healthcare for a moment, let’s look at where the incentives may be conceivably perverted:

The Trump administration could have a strong incentive to hope for a terrorist attack within the United States. It did not hurt Bush and the Republicans in 2002 or 2004. And it would allow for a massive shock doctrine purge of the civil service in the intelligence community.  People rally around the flag, people get suspicious of expanding the circle of US instead of THEM and the fear of another attack shuts down critical thinking and allows the few voices speaking out to be marginalized as Saddam lovers (that was the 2002 play-book as I remember it).

So incentives matter and in this last case, they are perverted.

Monday Morning Open Thread: Re-litigating the 1960s At Their Worst


Here come the cheap thugs in their ill-fitting, flag-pin-bedazzled suits…

Apart from uplifting fantasies, what’s on the agenda for the day?

(Tim Eagan via


Late Night California Nightmarin’ Open Thread: Guvernator Thiel

From the Politico article:

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, has been discussing a prospective bid with a small circle of advisers, including Rob Morrow, who has emerged as his political consigliere.

Morrow has worked at Clarium Capital, the San Francisco-based investment management firm and hedge fund that Thiel started.

Those who have been in touch with the 49-year-old entrepreneur are skeptical that he’ll enter the race. He is a deeply private figure, and California is unfriendly territory for a Republican — particularly a pro-Trump one. The president-elect won just over 30 percent of the vote there.

But they add that Thiel has conspicuously yet to rule out a bid and that those around him continue to discuss it…

Thiel, who is worth an estimated $2.7 billion, would fill an important need: the ability to self-fund. Waging a gubernatorial bid in California, where campaigns are famously expensive, could cost over $100 million.

He isn’t the only billionaire who may run. Environmentalist Tom Steyer, a prolific giver to Democratic causes, is also seen as a possible contender.

With Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown term-limited, several high-profile Democrats, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Treasurer John Chiang have already launched campaigns…

I’m assuming, from my perch here on the opposite coast, that Thiel is just drafting in Trump’s slipstream, getting his vanity stroked by Repub apologists like Politico without having to task his highly evolved brain with grubby political calculation.

Another sign of the President-Asterisks’s negative effects on the general political sphere — he hasn’t even been inaugurated, and he’s already encouraging the worst sort of anti-human grifters to speculate about following his slimy path.