He Has Reached Rock Bottom, And Has Started To Dig*

In case you had any question as to just how skeevy — more, how fundamentally grotesque — was and is Roy Moore, here’s his reasoning on why sodomizing a child does not constitute “forcible rape”:

The Alabama Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear the case of one Eric Lemont Higdon, a man accused and convicted of two sodomy charges due to sexual assault against a four-year-old at Mama’s Place Christian Academy in Clay, Alabama.

 

Higdon had been convicted of both sex with a child under twelve years old, statutory rape, and of “first-degree sodomy by forcible compulsion” which requires that the victim face a threat, overt or implied, of  “serious physical injury.” That second forcible rape charge was overturned on appeal, and the question that Moore and his fellow state supreme court justices faced was whether that appellate decision was correct.  Almost all of the court had no problem working that one out:

Eight of the nine justices on the panel found that the appeals court had erred. Their legal logic was such that a 17-year-old’s sexual assault of a four-year-old was enough to produce in the mind of the four-year-old, an “implied threat of serious physical injury.”  The decision was reversed and remanded and Higdon’s conviction was reinstated.

Who dissented? That godly man Moore, of course:

“Because there was no evidence in this case of an implied threat of serious physical injury…or of an implied threat of death, Higdon cannot be convicted of sodomy in the first degree “by forcible compulsion.”

Four Years Old.

No implication of serious physical injury when a seventeen year old assaults a pre-schooler.  I wanted to put that last more bluntly, but I can’t. My stomach turns itself into a Klein bottle when I try.

What kind of man do you have to be to conceive of the scene between that youth and that little child and see no threat?

Roy Moore is not who we thought he was.  He’s much, much worse — and anyone who rises to his defense shares in his stain.

*From this time-honored list of British military fitness reports.  My favorite has always been “I would not breed from this Officer” — which, according to my uncle, a career man in the Royal Artillery, was known to refer to a fellow from a Guards regiment.  Posh don’t mean smart.

Image:  Diego Velasquez, Las Meninas1656-7.

This picture is not, perhaps, precisely on point with this post, but it knows the chords and is, in any case, a simply magnificent painting.



Dumb Ideologies Open Thread: Jade Helm, the Reboot — or Why There Will (Almost Certainly) Not Be Another Civil War This Weekend

Because this is the least intelligent timeline, Snopes has gone to the trouble of explaining:

Is ‘Antifa’ Planning a Civil War? – FALSE
Despite what random people might say in homemade YouTube videos, they offer no proof that any anti-fascist groups are planning even a skirmish…

In August 2017, rumors began to spread on social media that anti-fascists (a name often shortened to “antifa”, which has become shorthand for a subset of protestors, usually clad in black and accessorized with bandannas and who are evidently unnerving bloggers and vloggers enough to be the pet topic of many an angry online rant) were planning extended unrest, riots, killing random citizens, or outright civil war beginning on 4 November 2017…

Depending on the source, “antifa” (always treated as though it is one homogenous, unified group) is purportedly planning extended riots, joint violence alongside Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers, or a coup of the American government…

Of course, the Infowars faithful and other Trump voters automatically accept this as gospel (trans: good news), because they want to belief that the whole world is as fearful and doom-obsessed as they are. The Washington Post notes the hype, goes to interview the idiots on the other end of the political horseshoe:

… Infowars has warned “Antifa Plans ‘Civil War’ to Overthrow the Government.” The John Birch Society put out two recent videos warning Americans to “stay home and tell your children to do likewise” on Saturday. YouTuber “A Glock Fanboy” notched more than 400,400 views for a clip raising the alarm about “the first day of the revolution or whatnot.”

“Honestly, I’m happy,” the YouTuber told his followers. “Dude, we’ve been on the verge of the great war for what seems like forever and I’m just ready to get it going.”

While Nov. 4 has become a rallying point on the conservative landscape — complete with a hashtag “civilwar2017″ — down on the other far end of the political spectrum, the reality is equally significant. The left-leaning group Refuse Fascism is planning rallies across the country on Saturday, the first step in a large-scale, long game demonstration organizers hope will achieve nothing less than the unseating of the Trump administration.

“We formed this organization around two main points,” Andy Zee, one of the group’s organizers, told The Washington Post. “One is that the nightmare must end, and second, in the name of humanity we must refuse to accept a fascist America.”

Zee maintains that Refuse Fascism is committed to nonviolent protest, and scoffs at the ideas floating through the far right of antifa super-soldiers waging war on mainstream society. If anything, the jarring disconnect over Nov. 4 shows how easily facts are eaten alive by social media and regurgitated as conspiracy theory. The possible violence coloring that disconnect illustrates how truly ideologically isolated the two sides are from one another.
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Monday Evening Open Thread: What Would Some Tudor Playwright Know About the Autocratic Abuse of Power?…

New York’s Public Theater lost financial support from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday amid intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.

The companies’ decisions came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that was amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater’s funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning…

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a bank spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years…

The play, which has been in previews since May 23, is scheduled to open Monday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival.

“Its depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level,” Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote in his review.

The “vividly staged” production hews to the traditional interpretation of Shakespeare’s work, he wrote. “Even a cursory reading of the play, the kind that many American teenagers give it in high school, is enough to show that it does not advocate assassination. Shakespeare portrays the killing of Caesar by seven of his fellow senators as an unmitigated disaster for Rome, no matter how patriotic the intentions.”…

Other corporate sponsors of the Public Theater, including The Times, have also faced calls on social media to denounce the play or end their relationship with the Public.

A spokeswoman for The Times said the company, which has sponsored Shakespeare in the Park for 20 years, would not change course. In a statement, the company said: ”As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”…

So, give the Grey Lady credit where due… at least the credit of understanding that Ankh-Morpork New York City dwellers and paid NYT subscribers don’t care how badly the tender fee-fees of Lord Smallgloves and his yahoo online armies are wounded.

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Degenerates for Trump, Also Suffering

So it’s not all bad news for the good guys. More much-deserved tsuris for Spencer’s buttboys, from the Washington Post [warning: original article starts with extremely graphic descriptive language]:

“Overnight, my life was stolen from me,” said Gersh, a Jewish resident of Whitefish, Mont., in an interview with The Washington Post. Now she is suing Andrew Anglin, the man who she says is responsible for the “coordinated, repulsive, threatening campaign of anti-Semitic harassment” that targeted her family. Anglin runs the Daily Stormer, a well-known neo-Nazi website.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, details many of the more than 700 harassing messages the Gersh family received since mid-December. That’s when the Daily Stormer, published the first of about two dozen articles under Anglin’s byline mentioning Gersh, encouraging the site’s readers to participate in a “troll storm” against her. The Washington Post was provided a draft of the complaint in advance.

The harassment aimed at Gersh has to do with a dispute between residents of Whitefish and Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist who once considered himself a part-time resident of the town. The Daily Stormer posts cited in the complaint attempt to justify the “troll storm” by accusing Gersh of “trying to extort” Spencer’s mother Sherry. Sherry Spencer owned property in Whitefish, including one mixed-use building that was listed as the principal address for Spencer’s white nationalist National Policy Institute. While Sherry Spencer’s family was under pressure to condemn her son’s beliefs in the wake of his increased national profile, Gersh told us the accusation of an attempt at extortion was false, an incorrect interpretation of their contact with each other…

Richard Cohen, the president of the SPLC and one of Gersh’s attorneys, said in an interview with Gersh on Monday that the case was an adaptation of the organization’s legal strategy to “hold hate leaders responsible for the actions of their followers.” This time, however, the case is mostly about digital harassment.

“I think it’s an incredibly important lawsuit,” said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland who specializes in online privacy. Digital harassment is a relatively untested area for lawsuits like this, and would-be plaintiffs often face two challenges: It’s expensive to bring a case, and online harassment isn’t always taken as seriously as physical harassment by individual judges or jury members, “especially of a certain generation,” Citron said…
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Unlimber That Gas Mask

Amidst all the attention grabbing stuff — you know, just a president accusing his predecessor of high crimes — the Trump administration proceeds with impressive consistency with moves designed to make the world worse, Americans sicker/poorer, and their inner circle enriched.

Next week, it’ll be the air-we-breathe’s turn:

The Trump administration is expected to begin rolling back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, according to people familiar with the matter, essentially marking a U-turn to efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars.

The announcement — which is expected as soon as Tuesday and will be made jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, and the transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao — will immediately start to undo one of former President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental legacies.

During the same week, and possibly on the same day, Mr. Trump is expected to direct Mr. Pruitt to begin the more lengthy and legally complex process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Obama’s rules to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.

The regulatory rollback on vehicle pollution will relax restrictions on tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide and will not require action by Congress. It will also have a major effect on the United States auto industry.

I don’t want to go all-apocalyptic on this news, in part because I want to sleep more than four hours tonight, and more because there are some secular processes underway that reduce the impact of Trump’s and Republican willingness to destroy the climate and give Americans respiratory diseases — think the long-term losing market battle coal is waging against everything else, and the advances in transportation tech that will help mitigate the license to ill being granted the domestic auto industry. (I’d note that those car companies based in countries that do impose efficiency rules will now get an advantage over the big three that could very likely hit the domestic industry hard in a decade or less…rather like the way Japanese car companies were poised to take advantage of the oil shocks of the 70s, to great wailing and gnashing of teeth in Detroit.)

But even with that rather meagre reed of hope, there’s no way to spin this as anything but craptastic news for both the global and every local environment.

Every act this administration takes; every law this congress takes is the fruit of a poisoned tree: an election manipulated by foreigners, and undermined by domestic law enforcement.  There’s no room for negotiation here.  Step one: 2018.

Image: Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Gas masks for man and horse demonstrated by American soldierc. 1917-18



Government, Meet Bathtub

It’s easy to run a government that does (next to) nothing.

Here’s where Trumpism — or really Pence-ism, or really, exactly what the GOP has been promising (threatening) will have its most immediate, and quite possibly its most damaging impact:

Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

The NEH and NEA cuts are at once symbolic — the GOP is killing stuff liberals like, which is reward enough in those quarters — and, I think, intended to distract from other hugely reckless choices:

The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.

At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.

At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.

The single most important point I can make is that this is the Kansas-ification of America.  This isn’t a Trump policy choice.  This is Mike Pence shepherding plans the Republican Party has been trying to implement for years, decades even.  I doubt it will all get through, but much of it will, I’d guess, and when it does we will need to hang every shitty outcome and terrible choice around the neck of every Republican officeholder.

This is what they want. This is what they told us they wanted. They’re likely going to get it, to some approximation.  And they’re going to have to own it, so that once again, Democrats can come in and fix the serial catastrophes we’re going to witness very damn soon.

Also, too — who wants to bet all the pieties about the deficit and restoring balance to the budget will fall to the tax cuts to come?

Fuck it.  I’m heading back to the seventeenth century.

Image: Francesco de Rossi, Bathesheba at her Bath1552-1554.



Don’t Know Much About History

Hoo boy, Betsy DeVos is a real winner. If you are a c-list blogger with a potty mouth or a writer for a comedian/comedy show, her hearing yesterday was fucking amazing. If you care about education policy or have children, well, you know, sorry about that.

There were so much fail it’s hard to just limit it to one blog post, but here goes. First, she has no idea the difference between proficiency and growth or the existence of the debate, which is to education what evolution/creationism is to hard sciences:

I’m pretty sure any undergraduate at ANY college in America with at least ONE education course could answer that better.

Next up, she seems completely unaware that IDEA exists:

Again, she is so ignorant of everything around here, I sort of hoped that Franken and Hassan would start making up federal laws that don’t exist and asking her position on them, just to see what she would say.

And then finally, there was this:

Just so we are clear, there is no no grizzly infestation menacing Wyoming public schools:

Audra Morrow, a teacher at Wyoming’s Valley Elementary School in Cody from 2004 to 2006, explained to Mic that no guns were necessary to ward off ursids, and that the fence and bear spray were “absolutely” sufficient measures on their own.

“No firearms in our schools!” Morrow wrote. “We do have bear spray but have never had a problem that would require using it.”

And I’m not joking that I am just scratching the surface here- she also stated she did not support standards for every school that receives federal money and on and on and on.

Welcome to the United States of Dumbfuckistan.