Late Night Open Thread: Look on the Bright Side


U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch issued his decision on Monday, finding Andrew Anglin owes Tanya Gersh $10 million in punitive damages along with $4,042,438 in compensatory damages.

The ruling comes after a daylong hearing Thursday in which Gersh, her husband, and her therapist testified to the emotional damage caused after Anglin called on his followers on the Daily Stormer to “storm” Gersh’s family.

Anglin accused Gersh of trying to force the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer to sell her building in Whitefish and posted personal information on Gersh, her husband, and their son online. A barrage of threats and anti-Semitic messages followed.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, representing Gersh, filed a lawsuit in federal court against Anglin in early 2017. In a statement released by the SPLC on Monday, Gersh said justice has been served…

Anglin was not present at the July 11 hearing, nor was any attorney there to represent him. He forfeited his defense in April after repeatedly refusing a judge’s order to appear in the United States for a deposition, and his attorneys subsequently asked to withdraw from the case.

“This victory is every bit as important as it would be if Andrew Anglin had showed up for trial,” said John Morrison, a Helena attorney also representing Gersh. “It’s also not surprising to me that somebody like Andrew Anglin who commits these acts of cowardice is afraid to actually show up and defend his position.”…

Anglin’s whereabouts remain unclear. David Dinelli, the attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Missoulian in a phone interview Monday that his organization will move forward with collecting the damages recommended in Lynch’s findings.

“We are committed to doing whatever we can to collect whatever Andrew Anglin has that is subject to collection here in the United States, whether that’s cash, assets or intellectual property,” he said, declining to comment further on the potential methods for collection.

“The bigger message is that Tanya Gersh, a real estate agent in small-town Montana, was able to take on the web’s most notorious neo-Nazi and win,” he added.

“Andrew Anglin may stay out of the United States, and we hope that he does. … We’re confident and pleased that the judge’s ruling today will send a message to all those people that if they try (to do the same) they will be held accountable.”

Chief Judge for the District of Montana Dana Christensen will take Lynch’s findings into account and make the final ruling.

I can only apologize to whichever country sad little coward Anglin has self-exiled himself.

Things a Journalist Should Never Say Ever Again, “Republicans of Conscience” Edition

Oh go fuck yourselves:

As Mistermix noted below, a grand total of four (4) Republicans voted to note that what the President said was racist as fuck and wholly inappropriate. Here’s what 187 Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to support:

This resolution states that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger and naturalized citizens are just as American as those whose families have been in the United States for generations. It also expresses a commitment to keep America open to those who lawfully seek refuge from violence and oppression and those willing to work hard to achieve the American Dream, regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin.

The resolution strongly condemns the President’s racist comments and states that they have legitimized hatred of new Americans and people of color, including his reference to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders.”

That’s about as fucking toothless as something in the house can get. It recommends no censure or other punishment, it does not call for impeachment, it doesn’t even call for the President to go without his Mickey D’s apple pie after his too well down double cheeses tonight.

And yet, no “Republicans of conscience” could be found anywhere to support it. If you are a reporter or journalist or pundit and find yourself thinking the phrase “Republicans of Conscience,” do us all a favor, submit your resignation, and go seek work more befitting your level of intellect and decency. Maybe as Steve Bannon’s hot tub scrubber.

We’re Not Going Back

What do you think of the headline as a key 2020 slogan? I heard it from John Lewis tonight, among others.  It’s flexible — in addition to the obvious connotation, we’re not going back to the days when 20 million fewer were uninsured, we’re not going back to the days when women could be sexually harassed with impunity, etc.  It works well as a crowd chant, and it encapsulates the fundamental sense of Democrats as the progressive party.

On another topic, compare and contrast the tone, tenor and content of the Post (top) and Times (bottom) headlines and summary paragraphs.  One of these papers understands the moment we’re in, what’s at stake, that the GOP should be ashamed, and part of journalism’s job is to keep score.  The other is acting like business as usual.  Fuck your “bitter partisan brawl”, as if all that anyone cared about today was party affiliation.

(There’s an open thread below if you’re burned out on this topic.)

Tuesday Evening Open Thread

Statue of Liberty Cradling Small Child

Copyrighted 2018 Tom Garrahan RightHandedLeftArtist

I don’t think we have highlighted this illustration yet. I was holding off while trying to find attribution. Unsuccessful so far…I’m sure one of you will correct that Thank you Mag!

I’m so tired of this administration.

Open thread

Live – House Vote On Trump’s Racist Comments

Apparently one is not allowed to use the word “racist” on the House floor for reasons of decorum. And yes, I know it’s Fox. It’s the only easily embeddable feed I found.

Update: TaMara supplied a Washington Post feed. Many thanks!

Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Their Last Resort

OOGA-BOOGA SCARY STRANGERS!!! is the Trump / Repub bolthole, the place they retreat when they perceive the situation as going badly for them. It works a charm with the “Base”, but that’s only the Crazification Factor demo. Our job is not to despair, but to get the vast majority of our sane (or at least not-totally-on-board with the ugliness) fellows to the streets, and to the polls.

Acid Tripwire

Worse than the brown acid.

Daniel Rothman, professor of geophysics and co-director of the Lorenz Center in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, has found that when the rate at which carbon dioxide enters the oceans pushes past a certain threshold — whether as the result of a sudden burst or a slow, steady influx — the Earth may respond with a runaway cascade of chemical feedbacks, leading to extreme ocean acidification that dramatically amplifies the effects of the original trigger.

That’s from the MIT press release on Rothman’s new paper, published in PNAS.

The MIT release continues:

Scientists know that when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in seawater, it not only makes the oceans more acidic, but it also decreases the concentration of carbonate ions. When the carbonate ion concentration falls below a threshold, shells made of calcium carbonate dissolve. Organisms that make them fare poorly in such harsh conditions.

Shells, in addition to protecting marine life, provide a “ballast effect,” weighing organisms down and enabling them to sink to the ocean floor along with detrital organic carbon, effectively removing carbon dioxide from the upper ocean. But in a world of increasing carbon dioxide, fewer calcifying organisms should mean less carbon dioxide is removed.

“It’s a positive feedback,” Rothman says. “More carbon dioxide leads to more carbon dioxide. The question from a mathematical point of view is, is such a feedback enough to render the system unstable?”

To answer that question, Rothman surveyed the carbon record for the last half-billion years of Earth history, and then built a mathematical model of the carbon cycle in the upper ocean to help him analyze the current, human-driven injection of carbon dioxide into the climate system.

When he introduced carbon dioxide at greater rates, he found that once the levels crossed a critical threshold, the carbon cycle reacted with a cascade of positive feedbacks that magnified the original trigger, causing the entire system to spike, in the form of severe ocean acidification. The system did, eventually, return to equilibrium, after tens of thousands of years in today’s oceans — an indication that, despite a violent reaction, the carbon cycle will resume its steady state.

This pattern matches the geological record, Rothman found. The characteristic rate exhibited by half his database results from excitations above, but near, the threshold. Environmental disruptions associated with mass extinction are outliers — they represent excitations well beyond the threshold. At least three of those cases may be related to sustained massive volcanism.

“When you go past a threshold, you get a free kick from the system responding by itself,” Rothman explains.

I should emphasize that all this is a theoretical approach to the question. Rothman is a mathematical geologist, not a field guy, and his business is building formal representations of complicated systems to probe action in the real world that can’t be measured or experimented upon directly.

His prediction, then, is just that, a statement about the likelihood, not the certainty of a given outcome.  But that caveat doesn’t mean this is “just a theory.” Quite the reverse: because the model builds in solid and known physics, and is driven by dozens of observations in the historical record, this theory is one supported both by the math and the gold-standard of empirical measurement.

It’s scary, in other words, because it represents a rigorous attempt, using stable, well established knowledge, to depict a scary, inhospitable future:

In other words, if today’s human-induced emissions cross the threshold and continue beyond it, as Rothman predicts they soon will, the consequences may be just as severe as what the Earth experienced during its previous mass extinctions.

I should add that I know Rothman a little — my students made a short film about a lovely little piece of work he and his students did on the branching networks of ground water drainage systems.  Just i that one encounter, on a question he tackled mostly for fun, it was easy to see that he’s an impressive thinker, combining mathematical intuition with a nose for earth-science problems that can be expressed in tractable systems of equations.

That doesn’t make this work right; it does make the suggestion that there is a chance we’re close to a trigger of a runaway feedback in the oceans a prediction to take very seriously indeed.

The TL:DR of all this?  One — there’s a risk that major and on human-lifetime scale irreversible changes for the worse are either very near or already baked into the way we’ve hacked the climate system.  The need to squelch that hack, to stop pouring carbon into the atmosphere, is thus even more urgent than we thought.

A second implication amplifies that urgency:  Rothman’s math is simple (at least for him). It exposes one vulnerability, one potential feedback that could go against preserving the basic ecological support system human society depends on. But the climate system is big, incredibly complicated, and potentially hides a bunch of such triggers.

You can read this study, that is, as a case study, an example of how something seemingly well removed from direct warming issues (the physics and chemistry of the shells of microscopic ocean animals) can produce profound global effects.  So, if acid oceans haven’t terrified you enough, remember that where there’s one such hidden mechanism of major disruption, there may well be others.

As most of you know, I have a son. He’s nineteen now, and I find so much of my dread these days is bound up in my fear that I will leave him a world that is vastly more precarious than the one I inherited from my parents.

I do not have a good answer for myself on that, but it is one more reason why current politics seem to me to be life-or-death.  If we have any time left at all to keep the damage from climate change manageable, we don’t have that many years.  The longer the GOP holds power, the worse our chances become.  Go Science! is not the rallying cry that will win next year — but it’s damned important, even so.

And on that cheery note: have at it!

Images:  Joseph Wright of Derby, The Orrery, c. 1766

Albrecht Dürer, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498

Keep Running That Mouth

We’re in day three of Trump’s racist attacks on AOC et. al.  The theme of today’s remarks from the trouser stain at the earlybird special is that “he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body”.  So I guess he’s an invertebrate.

As far as I’m concerned, the Democrats are handling this well, and Trump is fucking up.  But, some disagree.  The other day, Steve M pointed out some tweets from Noah Smith to the effect that Trump is putting Democrats in a bind because, if they support AOC et. al. now, it will raise the question of why they didn’t support them earlier?   Steve M’s post is a good refutation of this bit of concern trolling.

Steve M’s prescription for Democrats is for us to say that we’re a “big tent” party and we tolerate dissent.  That’s a good use of a Reagan-era cliche.  I also think that Pelosi’s vote on a resolution condemning Trump is a good vehicle to call out the cowardly Republicans (i.e., all of them) who are too afraid of their mouth breathing base to directly call out Trump.  The more we beat the drum about the weak chickenshit antics of the little kids who hide in the corner while Grandpa bangs on the dinner table, the better.

Another lament that I saw somewhere is that this resolution is the equivalent of a sternly worded letter, and it will not shut Trump up, and therefore Democrats look weak.  Well, maybe, but unlike Trump’s concentration camps and corruption, the racist bullshit he’s slinging is also just words.  When somebody’s calling a friend or colleague names, the first (and maybe only) thing you can do is speak up in defense, quickly and forcefully.  The key thing to note here is that Democrats didn’t hesitate.

On day 3, I feel as I did on day 1.  Some of the very basic laws of politics have not been repealed, and Trump is doing himself and his piss-pants enablers no favors by running this into the ground.

Updated to add:  I forgot another worry – that Trump is distracting us from Epstein, concentration camps, etc.  Yes, and what can we do about it?  The fucking media is going to report the tweets and push them into the forefront. We either shut up and take it, or we clap back, as the kids say.

The ACA and the courts

Last week, the ACA was in court again. The state of Texas is the lead plaintiff arguing that since the mandate tax has been reduced to zero, it is no longer a tax and therefore the entire ACA is unconstitutional and needs to be struck down. Yeah, this is bananapants but it sounded convincing to at least two of the appeals court judges.

DaveNYC asked a good question:

Dunno if anyone has requested this, but do you mind positing what happens if the ACA gets shot down? The courts questioning did not seem promising, so that scenario seems like one worth pondering.

So what happens?

This is dependent on the ruling of course but I am assuming that this case will eventually end up at the Supreme Court as there will be four votes for cert no matter the outcome in my opinion.

  • If the Appeals Court rules that the district court is completely wrong on all counts, then nothing changes and the ACA individual market continues as usual.
  • If the Appeals Court rules that the district court is right that the mandate is now unconstitutional but wrong in its severability analysis, the Appeals Court sends the case back to the district court for a new severability analysis. Right now the analysis says the mandate can’t be cut-off from the rest of the law so the rest of the law has to go.
    • Alternative analysis could be that the individual market regulations has to go which would then be appealed and during the appeal, everything would be stayed as the case reworked its way through the Appeals Court and then SCOTUS OR
    •  that only the individual mandate needs to be severed and everything else is A-OK.  At that point, I don’t think anyone defending the ACA would appeal.
  • If the Appeals Court rules that the district court is 100% right, the case is going to the Supreme Court during which time the ACA continues to operate normally.

Assuming the Appeals Court rules 2-1 that the District Court is 100% right, the intervening defenders of the ACA, mostly Blue State attorney generals, would file an appeal to the Supreme Court basically saying that this ruling is throwing out a century of severability doctrine.  The earliest the case would be argued would be the end of 2019 with a decision sometime in the Spring or early Summer of 2020.  This would be a massive election issue.  In King v Burwell, the “Moops” case, five justices who are still on the court plus one recent retiree (Kennedy) basically told the lower courts to actually use traditional doctrines when reading the ACA instead of the fevered dreams of movement conservatives.   The same five justices who held in NFIB  v Sebelius that the ACA was constitutional with an optional Medicaid Expansion are still on the court and I assume would appreciate not being trolled.

It comes down to whether or not Roberts wants to kill the ACA.  I don’t think he does (or at least does not want his fingerprints on it) as he has had two opportunities to do so already and has not (despite taking a whack at the Medicaid expansion) especially at the height of an election season where the ACA will be a major element of the campaign.

There is a non-zero chance that the ACA would be struck down and rendered non-operational but I don’t think the risk of coverage loss would begin until 12/31/20.

Election 2020 Open Thread: Reluctant Endorsement From Cartoon Super-Villain

And by super-villain, I mean Peter ‘Bathory’ Thiel, not Dave Weigel, who is IMO entirely too Bernie-curious but not a complete waste of skin. This is gonna further irritate the Cosplay Socialists, of course, but if you want an ‘Electability!’ argument…

Or maybe people who have skin in the game prefer actual planning to performative confrontation:

In poll after poll, Sanders appeals to lower-income and less-educated people; Warren beats Sanders among those with postgraduate degrees. Sanders performs better with men, Warren with women. Younger people who vote less frequently are more often in Sanders’ camp; seniors who follow politics closely generally prefer Warren.

Sanders also has won over more African Americans than Warren: He earns a greater share of support from black voters than any candidate in the race except for Joe Biden, according to the latest Morning Consult surveys…

It’s not a given that Sanders voters would flock to Warren, or vice versa, if one of them left the race and endorsed the other. In Morning Consult, Reuters-Ipsos and Washington Post-ABC News polls, more Sanders supporters name Biden as their second choice than Warren — and a higher percentage of Warren voters pick Kamala Harris as their No. 2 than Sanders, according to recent surveys…
Read more

Man, What a Year

Was just going through some old pictures and man, what a difference a year makes:

Just looking at these and it brings back the knots in my stomach every time I went outside and looked at the yard. Much better this morning:

I’m also laughing at all my old pictures because THURSTON IS IN EVERY ONE OF THEM. He’s like Where’s Waldo. It’s because he is the orneriest of the animals- whatever is going on, he has to be RIGHT THERE IN ON THE ACTION. When I am on my hands and knees planting something, he will butt in, get in my way, to personally sniff whatever it is I am putting into the ground.

Respite Open Thread: Apollo 11 in Real Time

You can link up at your actual time of day, or choose any point in time in the mission.

I’ve been soaking up all the documentaries and interviews the past month.

Anyone else? What are some of your favorites?

Open thread

On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

As we move closer to the new site launch, I wanted to remind you to submit things now via the form or to hold off until the new site is live.  The old email address is dead and until the new site is live, there’s no replacement for now. I hope to change that later today.

Ok, it looks like my concern about the new site launching very soon is a bit off, sounds like it will be a week or more, not days. I’ve got a bunch of submissions, mostly multiple sets from a few folks. Please do continue to submit pictures, but don’t feel like it must be now.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

Read more

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Nobody Could Have Predicted

More immediately important:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke late Monday as they tried to broker a debt ceiling and budget deal with just days left before Congress plans to leave for the rest of the summer.

The talks took on new urgency after Pelosi shot down a White House fallback plan that would have Congress raise the debt ceiling — potentially for just a short period of time — by late next week if they failed to reach a budget agreement.

Pelosi, the California Democrat, said the idea of raising the debt ceiling on its own and not in conjunction with a budget agreement was not “acceptable to our caucus” and therefore did not stand a chance of passage in the House of Representatives…

Pelosi has also said she is hopeful that she can reach a deal with the White House, but on Monday she made clear that the White House would not dictate the fallback plan if the talks falter. Pelosi wants the White House to agree to a specific budget deal that would dictate spending levels for the next two years.

Asked what would happen if the White House and Congress did not reach a budget and debt ceiling deal by the end of next week, Pelosi said late Monday “I’m not going into the theoretical. I’m into the actual.”…

Lawmakers must craft a new budget deal by the end of September, because that’s when funding for many agencies is set to expire. If lawmakers don’t fund the agencies after Sept. 30, there will be another government shutdown. Mnuchin said on Monday that the White House does not want to see another shutdown, but he said they didn’t have enough time to wait until late September to deal with the debt ceiling and budget talks, as the debt ceiling deadline could be much sooner…

Late Night Open Thread: Is Our NYTimes Learning?…