Let’s Talk About SNL

I think one of the things that is becoming very clear to a lot of people is that this upcoming administration is going to require unprecedented resistance. Let me make this crystal clear- one of the ways the Republicans and the bobbleheads like Kurtz, Todd, and others are going to rely on is hoary old bullshit like “this is a departure from tradition” or “decorum is at an all time low.”

Fuck them. We are in uncharted waters here, and you need to take your lead from John Lewis and not the media courtesans. We need a departure from whatever fictional tradition they have in their heads (and it is fictional because the last eight years of Republican obstruction threw everything out the god damned window). SNL, I am happy to say, is taking no fucking quarter:

“Nazi Germany at least had the guts to take on Russia.”

Bravo.

Also on SNL last was an artist I had never heard of before, Sturgill Simpson, and I am buying ALL his music today. Here is Keep it Between the Lines (the SNL recordings on youtube are shit):

I actually like his rendition last night better because the pacing was faster. Here’s Call to Arms:

This shit hits all my sweet spots. Brassy with baritone sax, good lyrics, and anything with a Hammond organ, well, sign me up. Although I am not sure why he has Joey Ramone playing the keyboards.








Thoughts About The Politics of Travel

Hello there. You most likely don’t know me. I’m Michael Demmons and I am a traveler and a travel blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. I write at a blog called The Round The World Guys. It’s a place where my husband and I talk about our travels and offer tips & tricks about how you can maximize the value you get out of your vacations.

Well, it will be anyway. It’s only a couple months old and doing quite well so far. We just hired a tech-type person to design us a fancy, user-friendly layout that will evolve and get better over time.

A bit about me. I’m in my late 40s and have been traveling to various places around the world now for about 15 years. I’ve been to over 40 countries and don’t intend to stop till I see them all. I’ve been on every continent except Antarctica, which I’ll remedy in 2019. Travel keeps me sane and grounded and makes me realize how lucky I was to be born in where I was. I mostly travel with my husband, but we can’t travel together much right now because we have a 14.5 year old Labrador Retriever who pretty much needs constant attention. That’s old for a Lab, if you didn’t know. Really old.

Why blog here? To be honest, it’s because I asked John if I could check in once in awhile. A travel blogger might not seem to be a good fit for a blog that’s mostly a discussion about politics, but politics is a big factor in travel. While my first interest is travel nowadays, my second interest has always been politics. I don’t get the chance to talk publicly about politics much anymore. I gave up blogging about that years ago. That said, I thought I could offer a perspective on U.S. politics and how it is likely to affect travel both to the U.S. and around the world for Americans and others. So, as those topics come up, I’ll write about them here as they really don’t fit well at our site.

My next trip is in February, when I will be traveling to Iran for a couple weeks. Iran is a great lesson in how politics affects travel. People who travel a lot necessarily learn about the places they’re going. If you listen to the news here or look at the Department of State’s page on Iran, it looks like a festering hellhole that no sane person would ever travel to. But that’s not the reality. Iran is actually one of the safest places in the world for travelers, the people are friendly, and the food is delicious. Sure, there are things you simply can’t do there – like photograph government buildings. But face it, doing that here nowadays can get you a bit of side-eye from the authorities, too.

The politics here in the U.S. also affects travelers from other countries. I am a Canadian, but I live here. U.S. policy is often mirrored by its allies and Canada is no exception. Because of this, as a Canadian, I will be officially treated exactly the same as an American while I am there, meaning the visa process is strict and I need a guide the entire time. That means the cost increases from just a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand.

So that’s the type of thing I will write about here. I expect to maybe write once a month or so. Unless something weird happens and there’s room for more. If there’s anything you ever wanted to know about travel in general or the politics of it, I’d be interested in having that discussion.

In the mean time, Go Falcons!








Peaceful Assembly and Personal Security – Re-upped

I know a number of you all are planning to join one of the marches that will begin taking place between now through, and then after, the inauguration. So I wanted to re-up the post for anyone that missed it the first time.

(Originally posted on 18 December 2016)

Congress shall make no law… abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — Amendment 1, Bill of Rights, US Constitution

One of our readers/commenters emailed me about a week ago and asked if I would put up a post about personal security for those going to peaceably assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. I put a list together and ran it past a select group of our Balloon Juice legal eagles (those I’ve corresponded with before/have corresponded with me, so if you didn’t get asked, don’t be insulted I didn’t want to just impose on you with a cold request) – thank you all for getting back to me. Here’s my list of what I think anyone going to peacefully assemble should do to enhance their personal security.

  1. Go with a buddy, that way you have at least one person looking out for you/watching your back and vice versa.
  2. Carry cash and make sure to carry a valid picture ID!
  3. Bring a pocket flashlight.
  4. Get and wear a go pro that is automatically updating to the cloud.
  5. Bring a pocket charger for your cell phone and go pro regardless of whether it is supposed to be a long day.
  6. Make sure your personal electronic devices all have sufficient password protection and encryption on them. And have them set to upload to the cloud at a regular interval.
  7. Turn off fingerprint access to unlock your phone and delete your finger prints from the memory. Some jurisdictions allow law enforcement to compel you to unlock your phone if it has finger print based access. Or get a disposable phone just for this occasion.
  8. Turn off your phone and other personal electronic devices option to connect to known wifi as it can be used as a way to fail your encryption.
  9. Bring a bandana or neck gaiter and water so you can make a make shift gas mask in case things get out of hand and tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  10. Bring a bottle of saline eye rinse in case you need to rinse your eyes out if tear gas or pepper spray is deployed.
  11. Bring plenty of water and some snacks to make sure you’re properly hydrated and you’ve got enough fuel in your system to get through the day.
  12. Dress in layers so you are prepared for the weather and make sure you have good shoes/boots and a change of socks in case they should get wet. A set of silk base layer undersocks is a good idea regardless of the weather. They’ll help keep your feet warm or cool as needed and they’ll provide some protection in case your shoes/boots and socks get wet. And something to keep the back of your neck and your ears warm if you’re going to be someplace cold.
  13. Bring/wear a hat to keep the sun off your head or to keep it warm depending on the weather.
  14. Bring/wear eye protection. Specifically sunglasses that are impact rated. (You should be able to pick up military surplus ones pretty cheap).
  15. Sunscreen, skin moisturizer, and lip balm. Even if its cold you’ll need these.
  16. If you need to take regular/routine prescription medication: bring it in its original container, with the prescription details on the label. If its a gel based application and comes in a packet, make sure you’ve got a hard copy of the prescription with you.
  17. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. You don’t have to be paranoid, but have a sufficient level of situational awareness. If something looks and/or feels hinky or the hair on the back of your neck stands up, head on home or go get a drink or go back to your hotel. Know who and what is around you, keep your valuables in front pockets or in secure/securable purses/bags, and keep those where they can’t be easily snatched or accessed.
  18. Have a contact plan for both linking up and communicating in case one gets separated from anyone you’re with.
  19. Have a contact plan to stay in touch with someone who isn’t at the march, but knows that you’re there and a regular set of contact times.
  20. Have a lawyer you can contact if necessary and that your outside contact could contact if you don’t check in. Make sure you have all of your contact’s phone numbers memorized in case your phone is damaged or taken by law enforcement should the worst happen and you’re arrested.
  21. Bring a sharpie to take down badge numbers if necessary. And if necessary write them on your hand.

Should the worst happen and you get caught up in a peaceable assembly that suddenly turns not so peaceable:

  1. Do not resist law enforcement. Just do what they say, let your arms go limp, and do what you can to avoid a reflex response to resist – that can get you charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.
  2. Be respectful and polite when dealing with the authorities – law enforcement, the National Park Service, whoever.
  3. If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer and then shut up. Do not say anything else or answer any other questions until your lawyer arrives. In fact let the lawyer do the talking.

One last item: some of you probably carry a pocket knife or multitool everywhere. Or everywhere that you’re normally allowed. I would recommend not carrying anything on your possession that could be construed as a concealed weapon or even an openly carried one. Even if you’re in a state/jurisdiction that allows for concealed or open carry of knives and/or other weapons – don’t. Being part of a march or peaceful assembly that turns ugly is not a good time to attempt firearms (or knife) normalization.

Stay Frosty!



Sunday Morning Open Thread: Appreciate Them While You Can


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What’s on the agenda as we prepare for Countdown Week?

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Speaking of appreciating greatness, even Lord Shortfinger’s Repub ‘teammates’ are noticing that attacking Rep. Lewis might just have been counter-productive… and the decent people are not letting it go:



Late Night #FacePalm Open Thread: “Rebels” Without A Clue

The grifters / nitwits / true believers in President-Asterisk Trump’s entourage are busily stumbling from one unforced error to another…

The transition team for President-elect Donald Trump asked the head of the D.C. National Guard to remain in command throughout Inauguration Day after media reports that he would leave in the middle of the ceremony created controversy, the Guard said.

Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz told The Washington Post on Friday that he will be removed from his post immediately after Trump is sworn in as president. That irked at least one D.C. Council member because Schwartz will have to abandon his post during one of the Guard’s most important operations, helping maintain security and order during Washington’s highest-profile event.

As is customary for presidential appointees, Schwartz had offered his resignation after Trump was elected. In an interview Friday, Schwartz said he learned he would be replaced on Jan. 20. He said the transition team ultimately asked him to stay in the job for a few additional days, but only after the report of his departure had been published Friday on The Washington Post website.

Schwartz said he turned down the transition team’s offer because, by then, he had begun packing up his office and notified his staff. He said he believes the offer came only as a result of the negative attention his departure attracted…

Transition officials for the new administration on Friday said the team asked Schwartz to stay on through the inauguration to maintain continuity. They did not immediately respond Saturday to questions about when and how that offer was extended…

*Somebody* thought it would be a fine display of alpha-male dominance to order That Black Guy’s old staffers out the door the very minute His Short-Fingered Lordship was crowned inaugurated. Or maybe they just didn’t know enough to realize this guy had an actual job to do, what with all those Very Important People scheduled to stand around in a very public space. Either way, bad optics!

… So now we’re supposed to pretend to believe this was all a minor clerical error — either Maj. Gen. Schwartz didn’t understand what Trump wanted, or else he’s a Democrat partisan who just wants to embarrass the President-Asterisk. Or maybe the “Fakeington Post” made it all up, as the Lugenpress will do! Because Trump cannot fail, he can only be failed!

Guy isn’t even in office yet, and he already has his cult members on high alert. NOT. NORMAL.



Bed Update

I spent five hours shopping today, picking up a bunch of stuff for the house, came back, and the bed had been delivered:

Big day tomorrow- lot’s of stuff to do.



Today in Veganism: No Swiss for You Ms!

The residents of the Swiss town of Gipf-Oberfrick have denied a Swiss passport to a Dutch born vegan.

A Dutch vegan who applied for a Swiss passport has had her application rejected because the locals found her too annoying.

Nancy Holten, 42, moved to Switzerland from the Netherlands when she was eight years old and now has children who are Swiss nationals.

However, when she tried to get a Swiss passport for herself, residents of Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau rejected her application.

And what did the Dutch vegan in question have to say about this?

Ms Holten, a vegan and animal rights activist, has campaigned against the use of cowbells in the village and her actions have annoyed the locals.

The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.

Ms Holten told local media: “The bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are especially heavy.

“The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.”

She added: “The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?”

And for the counterpoint, here is a representative of the local Swiss People’s Party (motto: No Dutch Vegans Allowed!!!!):

Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a “big mouth” and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship “if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions”.

This is now the second time that Ms. Holten has been denied Swiss citizenship.

Responding to the rejection, Ms Holten said: “I think I spoke my mind too often, and I say it out too loud.”

Ms Holten, who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model and drama student, has also campaigned against a number of other Swiss traditions like hunting, pig races and the noisy church bells in town.

She was previously rejected for citizenship in 2015 after residents voted to block her initial application.

We interrupt this post for the obligatory:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled vegan bashing.

The case has now been transferred to the Cantonal government in Aargau, which can overrule the decision and can still grant her a Swiss passport despite the objections of the locals.

Local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications, which are decided by the cantons and towns where the applicants live rather than federal government.

It is still very difficult to be granted Swiss citizenship and being born in the country does not give the children or even the grandchildren of immigrants the automatic right to be Swiss.

As far as I’ve been able to determine Ms Holten is not a Marine and does not do crossfit…



Football & Art Open Thread

Went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali Museum today. Here’s a page from FK’s diary:

Came home and turned on the game. Falcons are beating the Seachickens (raptor-on-raptor!). I don’t really care who wins this one.

Would LOVE to see the Texans beat the Patriots tonight, though I realize that’s unlikely.

Open thread!








Golden Streams

Let’s say, merely for the sake of argument, that Donald Trump didn’t hire Russian prostitutes to urinate on the bed in a suite in a Moscow hotel. Of course, I think he did that and more. Exhibit A for the prosecution being him going out of the way to say that Hillary’s bathroom break in one of the Democratic debates was “too disgusting” to talk about. Classic projection.

Anyway, let’s say that it’s all bullshit, not a word of truth. I seem to remember another bullshit story that contained not one word-not even a phoneme-of truth: the notion that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Remember that steaming pantsload? It occupied years of the media interviewing scores of the mouth breathing rubes who believed it, and all of the carnival barkers who sold it. Every single “credible” media outlet that earned millions of clicks from that story knew it was completely, unquestionably false, yet profitable.

So why didn’t we hear about the Trump’s alleged piss fetish when it made the rounds (apparently) last October? It can’t be economics-Baby Jesus knows that America likes its clickbait warm and yellow. There’s even a real kompromat story here that is kind of a big deal – perhaps not as big as the recipes shared by John Podesta, but it certainly comes close. I don’t think the only reason is that they hated Hillary-certainly, deep in the drafty part of their chests that once housed their eternal souls, their hatred for Trump burns just as bright. Is it some odd species of cowardice? I really don’t understand it.



WE HAVE MATTRESS

New bed arrived today. Oh, my name is John. I used to blog here.

Things are happening crazy fast so I am swamped but I should have some pictures soon.



The spy who loved us

If you you put your ray gun to my head and made my guess what’s going on with Trump and Russia and how it will play out, I’d say that Trump is probably being blackmailed in some way by Russia, that this will never come out explicitly, and that the lingering story will hurt Trump a little but not a lot.

It’s more than a little distressing that the only reason the story’s being discussed at all right now is the work two people: a former MI6 agent and reporter-turned-GOP operative
(via).

Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

[….]

Mr Trump’s surprise election victory came and the Democrat employers of Mr Steele and Mr Johnson no longer needed them. But the pair continued with their work, hopeful that the wider investigation into Russian hacking in the US would allow the Trump material to be properly examined.

On the bright side, history will likely see the Republicans and Tories attacking the reports the same way it now sees Nazi collaborators and appeasers in the US and England.



Putin’s Poodle Attacks John Lewis

Last night, Anne Laurie posted about the principled stand of Rep. John Lewis, who refuses to recognize Trump’s legitimacy. Lewis knows something about opposing evil regimes.

March 7, 1965: State troopers use clubs against participants of a civil rights voting march in Selma, Alabama at foreground right, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper. The day, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” is widely credited for galvanizing the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)

This morning, Twitler fired back:

Of course, Trump is lying about the district, which includes areas ritzy enough for Trump to hold fancy private fundraisers. “Falling apart” and “crime infested” are signals to Trump’s racist followers, just as wingnuts’ constant invocation of “Chicago” is a code.

But man, the fucking stones on that silver-spoon crybaby, to accuse a genuine American hero like John Lewis of being all talk and no action. That fucker has more projection than Carmike.



Saturday Morning Open Thread: Good Thing Trump’s So Prolific!

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
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With the aid of his trusted lieutenants, he’ll gin up new truckloads of bullshit in no time!

Apart from reminding everybody this is Not Normal, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Open Thread: Bad-Person LOL of the Evening

(Jeff Danziger’s website)
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It’s okay to laugh, because Assange is waaay too paranoid to trust Trump, who’s too narcissistic to admit some 400-ounce Aussie hacker on his bed at the Ecuadorian Embassy might’ve had anything to do with Donnie’s YUUUGE electoral victory. And the hapless puppets stuck monitoring Wikileaks’ tweet feed can’t recognize/admit either half of that equation!



Friday Evening Open Thread: Shots Fired Markers Laid



“You cannot be at home with something that you feel is wrong.”

Blessings to Rep. Lewis for standing up, as he has alway stood up, for truth and justice. The Trumplodytes are going to call him every name they can think of — and the Very Serious Media People will amplify the screeching, because they have concerns about civility — but they’ve been calling him those names for more than half a century anyway.
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Apart from calling things by their rightful names, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
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And furthermore…