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Thursday, June 29, 2023

Another Code Red day in Baltimore

Cheryl and I on the I-83 about 6:15 pm, northbound toward Towson from the kids' house near Camden Yards. The air today was simply wretched. Code Red Baltimore.
…Hyatt’s invention [celluloid], often described as the world’s first commercially produced plastic, was followed a few decades later by Bakelite. Bakelite was followed by polyvinyl chloride, which was, in turn, followed by polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polyester, polypropylene, Styrofoam, Plexiglas, Mylar, Teflon, polyethylene terephthalate (familiarly known as pet)—the list goes on and on. And on. Annual global production of plastic currently runs to more than eight hundred billion pounds. What was a problem of scarcity is now a problem of superabundance.

In the form of empty water bottles, used shopping bags, and tattered snack packages, plastic waste turns up pretty much everywhere today. It has been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, thirty-six thousand feet below sea level. It litters the beaches of Svalbard and the shores of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, in the Indian Ocean, most of which are uninhabited. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of floating debris that stretches across six hundred thousand square miles between California and Hawaii, is thought to contain some 1.8 trillion plastic shards. Among the many creatures being done in by all this junk are corals, tortoises, and elephants—in particular, the elephants of Sri Lanka. In recent years, twenty of them have died after ingesting plastic at a landfill near the village of Pallakkadu.

How worried should we be about what’s become known as “the plastic pollution crisis”? And what can be done about it? These questions lie at the heart of several recent books that take up what one author calls “the plastic trap.”

“Without plastic we’d have no modern medicine or gadgets or wire insulation to keep our homes from burning down,” that author, Matt Simon, writes in “A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies.” “But with plastic we’ve contaminated every corner of Earth.”

Simon, a science journalist at Wired, is especially concerned about plastic’s tendency to devolve into microplastics. (Microplastics are usually defined as bits smaller than five millimetres across.) This process is taking place all the time, in many different ways. Plastic bags drift into the ocean, where, after being tossed around by the waves and bombarded with UV radiation, they fall apart. Tires today contain a wide variety of plastics; as they roll along, they abrade, sending clouds of particles spinning into the air. Clothes made with plastics, which now comprise most items for sale, are constantly shedding fibres, much the way dogs shed hairs. A study published a few years ago in the journal Nature Food found that preparing infant formula in a plastic bottle is a good way to degrade the bottle, so what babies end up drinking is a sort of plastic soup. In fact, it is now clear that children are feeding on microplastics even before they can eat. In 2021, researchers from Italy announced that they had found microplastics in human placentas. A few months later, researchers from Germany and Austria announced that they’d found microplastics in meconium—the technical term for an infant’s first poop…

…Plastics are made from by-products of oil and gas refining; many of the chemicals involved, such as benzene and vinyl chloride, are carcinogens. In addition to their main ingredients, plastics may contain any number of additives. Many of these—for example, polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, which confer water resistance—are also suspected carcinogens. Many of the others have never been adequately tested.

As plastics fall apart, the chemicals that went into their manufacture can leak out. These can then combine to form new compounds, which may prove less dangerous than the originals—or more so. A couple of years ago, a team of American scientists subjected disposable shopping bags to several days of simulated sunlight, in order to mimic the conditions that they’d encounter flying or floating loose. The researchers found that a single bag from CVS leached more than thirteen thousand compounds; a bag from Walmart leached more than fifteen thousand. “It is becoming increasingly clear that plastics are not inert in the environment,” the team wrote. Steve Allen, a researcher at Canada’s Ocean Frontier Institute who specializes in microplastics, tells Simon, “If you’ve got an IQ above room temperature, you have to understand that this is not a good material to have in the environment.”…

…Precisely because plastic is now ubiquitous, it’s difficult to imagine how to replace all of it, or even much of it. Even in cases where substitutes are available, it’s not always clear that they’re preferable. Franklin-Wallis cites a 2018 study by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency which analyzed how different kinds of shopping bags compare in terms of life-cycle impacts. The study found that, to have a lower environmental impact than a plastic bag, a paper bag would have to be used forty-three times and a cotton tote would have to be used an astonishing seventy-one hundred times. “How many of those bags will last that long?” Franklin-Wallis asks. Walker-Franklin and Jambeck also note that exchanging plastic for other materials may involve “tradeoffs,” including “energy and water use and carbon emissions.” When Schaub’s supermarket stopped handing out plastic shopping bags, it may have reduced one problem only to exacerbate others—deforestation, say, or pesticide use.

“In the grand scheme of human existence, it wasn’t that long ago that we got along just fine without plastic,” Simon points out. This is true. It also wasn’t all that long ago that we got along just fine without Coca-Cola or packaged guacamole or six-ounce bottles of water or takeout everything. To make a significant dent in plastic waste—and certainly to “end plastic pollution”—will probably require not just substitution but elimination. If much of contemporary life is wrapped up in plastic, and the result of this is that we are poisoning our kids, ourselves, and our ecosystems, then contemporary life may need to be rethought. The question is what matters to us, and whether we’re willing to ask ourselves that question.
Excerpted from her long-read article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

"Bad, sick people"

TRUMP: These are bad sick people, but …

STAFFER: That was your coup, you know, against you.

TRUMP: Well, it started right at the …

STAFFER: Like when Milley is talking about, “oh, you were going to try to do a coup.” No, they were trying to do that before you even were sworn in.

[0:16] UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That’s right.

STAFFER: Trying to overthrow your election.
TRUMP: Well, with Milley-uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran.


TRUMP: Isn’t it amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. 
This was him. They presented me this – this is off the record – but they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.

[0:44] WRITER: Wow.

TRUMP: We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him. All sorts of stuff – pages long, look.

TRUMP: Wait a minute, let’s see here. 

[0:55] UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Oh my gosh.

STAFFER: [Laughter] Yeah.

TRUMP: I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know.


TRUMP: Except it is like, highly confidential.
STAFFER: Yeah. [Laughter]
TRUMP: Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this. You attack, and …
STAFFER: Hillary would print that out all the time, you know.

TRUMP: She’d send it …

STAFFER: Her private emails.
TRUMP: No, she’d send it to Anthony Weiner.

MULTIPLE: (Laughter) Yeah.

TRUMP: The pervert.

STAFFER: Please print.
TRUMP: By the way. Isn’t that incredible?

TRUMP: I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And you know, he said, “he wanted to attack Iran, and what …”

TRUMP: These are the papers.

STAFFER: You did.

TRUMP: This was done by the military and given to me. Uh, I think we can probably, right?

[1:39] STAFFER: I don’t know, we’ll, we’ll have to see. Yeah, we’ll have to try to – 
TRUMP: Declassify it.

STAFFER: – figure out a – yeah.

TRUMP: See as president I could have declassified it.

STAFFER: Yeah. [Laughter]
TRUMP: Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.

STAFFER: Yeah. [Laughter] Now we have a problem.
TRUMP: Isn’t that interesting?


TRUMP: It’s so cool, I mean, it’s so, look, her and I, and you probably almost didn’t believe me, but now you believe me.

[1:56] WRITER: No, I believed you.

TRUMP: It’s incredible, right?

WRITER: No, they never met a war they didn’t want.
TRUMP: Hey, bring some, uh, bring some Cokes in please. [2:02]
Ok, then...
Ok, Trump brazenly claims that the audio exonerates him, that there was no secret Iran attack "document," he was just waving around newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and golf course building plans, while "engaging in bravado" with those present (meaning he was lying, to try to impress them).
Why am I utterly not surprised? 
Donald Trump, once again, wants us not to believe our own lying ears. The template for this defense was set on October 7, 2016, when the Washington Post published a tape of Trump laughing crudely as he described to the “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush his ability to do what he wanted with women (“grab ’em by the pussy”), because “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” The gaslighting that followed the leaking of that tape was a master class in Trump’s ability to obfuscate, bluster, and brazen his way out of the trouble that his big mouth had got him into—even if it meant denying that he meant what everyone had heard him say.

We are about to find out now whether Trump’s deny-it-even-if-you-said-it approach has any chance of succeeding in a federal courtroom, where he stands accused of thirty-seven criminal counts of taking classified documents from the White House and obstructing efforts by the government to reclaim them. Trump’s own words, captured on tape on July 21, 2021, about one such document—an alleged Pentagon war plan for Iran—figured prominently in the indictment, given that Trump was recorded at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, claiming that he possessed it and admitting that he knew showing it off was wrong. On Monday, CNN broadcast the audio. Talk about a gotcha tape…
[Susan B. Glasser]

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Whither Russia?

Good luck finding accurate information on this past weekend's developments.
If don't don't have Google Maps, install / launch it, zoom out to the entire globe, spin it around to view the breadth of the Eurasian continent (above).

Russia spans 11 time zones, comprising 6.6 million square miles of terrain within its borders, nearly twice that of the United States (@ 3.5 million sq mi). Also, Russia, at 143 million population, is roughly 44% our our 331 million people. It has the most sparse national average population density per sq mi. Nearly 13,000 miles of land border, 24,000 miles of coastline.
The Russian GDP is smaller than that of Italy.

And, it is an autocratic / oligarchic / "mafia" state that is Number One in the arsenals of nuclear weapons. It has now spent the weekend parrying an internal armed rebellion in the wake of prolonged difficulties pertaining to its invasion of Ukraine.

Were the Putin government fall to a mutinous civil war / coup, it's anybody's guess at this point who might rise to secure the political and national defense reins.Who would control those nukes? How would they defend their huge landmass national territory and its abundant natural resources?

This stuff is not funny.

Wagner Group Mercenaries commander Prigozhin may not be smiling for smartphone selfies for long in the wake of his quickly stillborn turnaround attack on Putin and his Kremlin regime. Late word is that he's exiling to Belarus. Interesting week upcoming.

...Democratic politicians spend a lot of time thinking about how to engage people and persuade them to vote. But a certain kind of autocrat, of whom Putin is the outstanding example, seeks to convince people of the opposite: not to participate, not to care, and not to follow politics at all. The propaganda used in Putin’s Russia has been designed in part for this purpose. The constant provision of absurd, conflicting explanations and ridiculous lies—the famous “firehose of falsehoods”— encourages many people to believe that there is no truth at all. The result is widespread cynicism. If you don’t know what’s true, after all, then there isn’t anything you can do about it. Protest is pointless. Engagement is useless.

But the side effect of apathy was on display yesterday as well. For if no one cares about anything, that means they don’t care about their supreme leader, his ideology, or his war. Russians haven’t flocked to sign up to fight in Ukraine. They haven’t rallied around the troops in Ukraine or held emotive ceremonies marking either their successes or their deaths. Of course they haven’t organized to oppose the war, but they haven’t organized to support it either.

Because they are afraid, or because they don’t know of any alternative, or because they think it’s what they are supposed to say, they tell pollsters that they support Putin. And yet, nobody tried to stop the Wagner Group in Rostov-on-Don, and hardly anybody blocked the Wagner convoy on its way to Moscow. The security services melted away, made no move and no comment...
You come at the king, you best not miss,” said Omar, the legendary outlaw in the equally legendary series The Wire. Maybe Yevgeny Prigozhin didn’t watch The Wire. Maybe he should have.

Like the gangsters Omar made a habit of robbing, Vladimir Putin runs an empire built on fear. The certainty of violent retaliation plays, in systems like Russia, the functional role that law plays in the West. It’s the glue that holds the whole thing together, the basic principle at its core. In autocracy you do what you do because you fear the man above you, who does what he does because he fears the man above him, and on and on in an unbroken chain to Vladimir Putin’s office.

This form of personalism is the one element of continuity in Russia’s history, dating back to the days of the tsars. In a country that never quite got the knack for the rule of law, the top spot in the chain of terror passed seamlessly from tsar to general secretary to president without ever being quite reformed. Laws exist, to be sure, in a system like this, but their role is ornamental at best, instrumental at worst. As one Latin American caudillo put it to describe very much the same system of government: “to my friends: everything! to my enemies: the law!”

This is how things in Russia work—or, well, “work.” Things remain together, just, but only so long as everyone fears Putin most. And that’s why last weekend’s bizarre mini-crisis in Russia has destabilized the Putin system as consequentially as it has.

For one fleeting moment, just one mad-cap afternoon, Vladimir Putin was not the man Russians feared most. On Friday, following months of tensions among the Russian military leadership, Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group fighting in Ukraine, announced an audacious march on Moscow. The next day his forces filed through the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and allegedly made it within 120 miles of the capital.

The aura of menace built so carefully over so long crumbled in plain view of the entire world as rumors swirled of a panicked Putin hopping on a plane leaving Moscow. In a system built on fear, that right there is the very definition of a constitutional crisis. 

But Prigozhin went for the king, and he missed. Worse, he never took a shot at all. In a matter of hours, the Wagner Group had withdrawn amid reports of a deal being brokered allowing Prigozhin to flee to Belarus.

Where does that leave Russia? Well, in the primate dominance dance that passes for elite politics in Russia, it leaves the entire power structure destabilized. In a state that relies on the leader’s menace for its stability, rebuilding stability means rebuilding that sense of menace…


Friday, June 23, 2023

On "Innovation"

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush dismissing warnings that he was putting his clients at risk.

In the messages reviewed by the BBC, Rush told marine explorer Rob McCallum that he was "tired of industry players who try to use a safety argument to stop innovation," in response to McCallum's concerns about the safety of the vessel.

McCallum backed off when OceanGate's lawyers threatened legal action.

"I think you are potentially placing yourself and your clients in a dangerous dynamic," he wrote to Rush in March 2018. "In your race to Titanic you are mirroring that famous catch cry: 'She is unsinkable.'"

"We have heard the baseless cries of 'you are going to kill someone' way too often," Rush replied. "I take this as a serious personal insult."

McCallum said he repeatedly urged OceanGate to certify the Titan before using it for commercial tours, but the vessel was never certified or classed.

"Until a sub is classed, tested and proven it should not be used for commercial deep dive operations," he wrote in one email.

"I implore you to take every care in your testing and sea trials and to be very, very conservative," he added. "As much as I appreciate entrepreneurship and innovation, you are potentially putting an entire industry at risk."

Rush was among the five passengers who are now believed to have died. The others were British billionaire and explorer Hamish Harding, 58, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a 77-year-old French explorer, and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Hotez vs Hokum

Scientists shouldn't debate gaslighters

Last weekend, Twitter and later the mainstream media exploded with a controversy surrounding an invitation to prominent vaccine scientist Peter Hotez to debate anti-vax charlatan and spoiler presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr on the podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. There was an immediate rally around Hotez by scientists and celebrities on Twitter and lots of discussion about why this invitation is a classic anti-science setup.

Hucksters like RFK Jr are skilled at flooding the zone with garbage. Kennedy recently told Rogan that Wi-Fi could open the blood-brain barrier and cause cancer. Absurd statements like this are a trap for scientists. A scientist wants to explain how conservation of energy works and why Kennedy’s assertion violates just about every principle there is in chemistry and physics. This approach sets up two huge problems. First, it gives RFK’s garbage equal footing with principles that have been established by centuries of science. The second is that to a lay listener, the scientist just comes off as fitting the stereotype of a nitpicking nerd and RFK looks like a powerful communicator. Hotez debating RFK about vaccines would produce the same result...

When scientists refuse these “debates,” the other side gets the opportunity to say that they are turning them down for fear of being challenged. The opposition can claim to be “just asking questions,” even though they don’t care about the answers. But these reactions are preferable to giving them a platform.

The latest kerfuffle is another reminder of something important that science has not solved: There are few figures who are rhetorical matches for merchants of doubt like RFK Jr. Most scientists aren’t prepared to take on his firehose of nonsense. The scientific community desperately needs equally skilled pundits to defend science...

In the meantime, we can be gratified at the way scientists and clear thinkers rallied around Hotez, and his poise in the face of all of the online abuse he endured.
[BTW, I am an AAAS member]  I came to this Twitter shitstorm via an acrimonious back & forth between the eminent show producer and writer David Simon (@AoDespair: e.g., The Wire, Treme, etc.) and a bunch of poignant anti-vax, anti-science pro-militia "mooks." It was nice to see Dr. Gorski (@ScienceBasedMed) to chime in w/rebuttal.

The fracas inevitable escalated into overt calls for violence against. Dr. Hotez. to wit:

I, along with many others, immediately reported that "fenix ammunition" tweet to Content Moderation and a number of relevant law enforcement entities. A particularly galling aspect of this was the presence of Twitter owner Elon Musk egging things on, stirring up the haters.
fenix ammunition is a company based in Michigan just west of Detroit. Owned by this guy:

Justin Nazaroff, CEO
42920 W 10 Mile Rd, Novi, MI 48375

"Bringing the arsenal of democracy back to Detroit, one precision cartridge at a time."
Below: He thinks this kind of stuff is funny.

An ongoing Twitter debate over vaccine misinformation between podcaster Joe Rogan and scientist Peter Hotez has led a number of individuals—including billionaires Bill Ackman and Elon Musk—to urge Hotez to debate anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an online spat that purportedly led anti-vaxxers to show up at Hotez’s home to “stalk” him.

The conflict started Saturday, after Hotez tweeted a Vice article that was critical of an interview Rogan did with Kennedy on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, in which Kennedy presented false claims about vaccines—including links to autism that most experts have discredited—which Hotez described as “nonsense.”

Rogan responded to Hotez’s criticism by inviting the vaccine scientist onto his podcast to debate Kennedy and pledging $100,000 to charity if Hotez agreed.

This man has lost his mind. His latest? "Wifi causes brain cancer."

One of the recent Twitter comments on this dustup said that "Hotez and Fauci should hang together."
Dr. Hotez'x new book comes out in September.
Dr. Peter Hotez discusses how an antivaccine movement became a dangerous political campaign promoted by elected officials and amplified by news media, causing thousands of American deaths.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, one renowned scientist, in his famous bowtie, appeared daily on major news networks such as MSNBC, NPR, the BBC, and others. Dr. Peter J. Hotez often went without sleep, working around the clock to develop a nonprofit COVID-19 vaccine and to keep the public informed. During that time, he was one of the most trusted voices on the pandemic and was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his selfless work. He also became one of the main targets of anti-science rhetoric that gained traction through conservative news media.

In this eyewitness story of how the anti-vaccine movement grew into a dangerous and prominent anti-science element in American politics, Hotez describes the devastating impacts it has had on Americans' health and lives. As a scientist who has endured antagonism from anti-vaxxers and been at the forefront of both essential scientific discovery and advocacy, Hotez is uniquely qualified to tell this story. By weaving his personal experiences together with information on how the anti-vaccine movement became a tool of far-right political figures around the world, Hotez opens readers' eyes to the dangers of anti-science. He explains how anti-science became a major societal and lethal force: in the first years of the pandemic, more than 200,000 unvaccinated Americans needlessly died despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Even as he paints a picture of the world under a shadow of aggressive ignorance, Hotez demonstrates his innate optimism, offering solutions for how to combat science denial and save lives in the process.
Below, excerpt, TX Monthly long-read from 2017

One afternoon in October 2016, Peter Hotez holed up in his office at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, where he is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. Surrounded by obscure science volumes and honors bestowed by dignitaries ranging from Bill Clinton to Greg Abbott, he meticulously set about injecting himself into a battle that most scientists had been careful to avoid. Hotez had spent his career fighting deadly diseases in far-flung corners of the world, but now he began tapping out an essay called “Texas and Its Measles Epidemics” for the scientific journal PLOS Medicine. The modest title belied just how provocative the article would turn out to be.

In it, he recalled the measles outbreaks that had routinely devastated the U.S. before the introduction of a vaccine, in the sixties. The virus killed 6,000 Americans a year in the early twentieth century, and thousands more suffered permanent hearing loss and neurological damage. Globally, it killed millions. Thanks to vaccine campaigns, that number had dipped to under 100,000 by 2013. In the U.S., it was declared eliminated in 2000. Yet as Hotez considered more-recent statistics, he wondered, “Could large-scale measles outbreaks and deaths return to the US?”

He was particularly concerned about Texas. Days earlier, he had been fielding routine emails when a disturbing set of data popped up on his screen: the number of Texas children who had been granted exemptions from school vaccine laws for “reasons of conscience” had increased steadily, year by year, from around 3,000 in 2003 to just under 45,000 in 2015. Until this point, Hotez had watched the state’s anti-vaccine lobby with increasing dread but little urgency. Now a sense of alarm came over him. He was staring at a measles epidemic in the making.

Measles remains one of the most contagious viruses on earth. Studies have shown that populations that dip below 95 percent vaccine coverage become a tinderbox. Hotez noted in his essay that counties in West Texas and the Panhandle were approaching that threshold, and vaccine exemption rates in many Austin-area private schools had already exceeded 20 percent (one had even surpassed 40 percent). “I predict measles outbreaks in Texas could happen as early as the winter or spring of 2018,” he wrote.He feared that the anti-vaccine movement was growing more powerful. Advocates of “vaccine choice,” as they prefer to frame their efforts, have become increasingly confrontational in the past decade. In protests, they’ve marched with posters showing syringe-wielding government agents stopping cars and forcefully injecting wailing babies. They are skilled social media combatants, often referring to public health advocates as “Nazis” and the “medical police state.” Some have launched Twitter and Facebook campaigns to try to discredit doctors who publicly promote vaccines. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has long been the most outspoken critic of the anti-vaccine movement, and he sometimes requires security during public speeches because of death threats made against him and his children. After journalist Amy Wallace wrote a profile of Offit in 2009 for Wired magazine, she received dozens of threatening letters, including one that warned, “This article will haunt you for a long time.” Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which claims to be dedicated to the prevention of “vaccine injuries and deaths,” sued both Wallace and Offit for libel. (In the article, Offit said of Fisher, “She lies.”) The case was dismissed, but a lawsuit—or the threat of one—remains a potent weapon in the vaccine war...

Again: Long read. Well worth your time.

Science is not Infotainment. People like Rogan lack SME "standing" to demand "debates."

Monday, June 19, 2023

Fox Hunt

Will it ever end with this guy?
The interview is receiving plenty of reactions from media figures and legal experts, many of whom believe that Trump hurt his case by acknowledging he didn't give investigators his full cooperation.

On Twitter, far-right radio host Erick Erickson said of the interview, "Guys, Trump admitted on TV tonight he withheld documents from the grand jury. Game over, legally. What an idiot."
The "VERGE?"


Click image.
A day worth our contemplation.

I reflect on the bigotry of my childhood.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

So, where are we now?

Exigent priorities?
Some categories clearly continue to worsen (e.g., day 476 of Putin's 3-day conquest of Ukraine). Some appear to be relatively unchanged. A very few seem to be of perhaps lesser priority concern. 

If you're not confused, you've not been paying attention.
apropos of some recent reading:
...American democracy faces extraordinary pressure. The former president tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power and overthrow the constitutional order. That coup attempt was shambolic and clownlike. Future attacks on American democracy will be more systematic and more effective. Today much of the country falsely believes our democracy is rigged, riddled with fraud, and illegitimate. The future of our democratic system is on the line.

Three days in June 2022, the supermajority made its move. In coming years it will be up to the country to respond. In the term that started in the summer of 2021 and culminated with such force in the summer of 2022, the United States Supreme Court showed itself to be one of those threats to American democracy. Its role matters. Its membership matters. These concerns will now be at the center of our politics. That’s as it should be. Conservatives long understood, and liberals now are remembering, that the only way to win meaningful legal and policy change is first to win in the court of public opinion. It turns out that the most important words in the Constitution are “We the People.”

Waldman, Michael. The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America (p. 270). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.


Happy Father's Day, Donnie. 

Jersey Boy. I'm from Jersey. Not a big Christie fan, but, gotta give him Joisey props for his candor while the rest of the 2024 GOP primary field wets their Depends.


Is this a great country, or what?

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


Go to for by far the best detailed, analytical coverage of this endless sorry debacle. Below, one of the poignant Cast of Dozens of Trump supporter indictment / arraignment protestors in Miami today. At this point (1:30 pm EDT), they appear to be outnumbered by media people.


Trump has solved his currrent legal representation problem, bringing in his A-Team.

BTW, good article on "Shoes Yet To Drop" on Trump.


President Biden has ordered an emergency drawdown of the Strategic Popcorn Reserve.

Seriously, I’m just grateful that no one was injured or killed today during the Miami protest. It was pretty much a clown show. The arraignment proceeding itself appears to have been rather perfunctory.
Trump flew from Miami straight to his Bedminster NJ golf resort, where he gave his standard stream-of-randomness incoherent speech of grievance.

Shortly after announcing his indictment last Thursday, Donald Trump posted a video to Truth Social complaining about persecution. Over the course of four minutes, he claimed multiple times that he’d won his reelection bid, asserted his innocence, called the Russia investigation a plot engineered by Hillary Clinton, and insisted that every investigation into his conduct was “a hoax and a scam.” His speeches over the weekend featured a torrent of false claims.

During his arraignment yesterday, in contrast, the former president said nothing. According to reporters, he sat silently with his arms crossed while his lawyer entered his plea of not guilty. There would be more bombast yet to come at a speech later that evening. But for that brief period in court, the lies ground to a halt.

Trump has built a political juggernaut out of shameless lying. Or perhaps not even lying. It’s practically a cliché at this point to refer to the philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit, which Frankfurt describes as distinct from, and worse than, a lie, in that the bullshitter doesn’t even care whether or not what he’s saying is true. Trump is a consummate bullshitter—but the courtroom is an inhospitable place for that sort of bluster. It’s an environment designed for careful, systematic evaluation of meaning and argument. In court, Trump is no longer on his home turf. In that sense, the Mar-a-Lago indictment represents the latest collision between the legal system and Trump’s insistence on defining the terms of his own reality…

Saturday, June 10, 2023


Y'all remember "Lock Her Up," right?

Not that Trump will give a flip about the hypocrisy.
Below, a quick screencap I snipped of Trump live today in Georgia. He rambled on incoherently for more than a hour (I can't believe I watched that), repeatedly coming back to his maudlin WITCH HUNT liturgical refrain. Same ole' licks as countless prior appearances.
Same Schtick...
Again, I exhort every citizen to read the June 9th Trump DOJ criminal indictment. it'll only take about 1/2 hr. It is quite clear, and you should personally know what it entails, irrespective of your political leanings.


75 million? Here are two of them.


Reports are circulating that Trump plans to demand that the incriminating "tapes" and lawyer Corcoran's notes be excluded from evidence. His Tuesday afternoon arraignment will surely be a doozy. His MAGA supporters are being exhorting to show up at the Miami federal courthouse. Security will be quite the undertaking. 
Two illuminating reads:
The Three Biggest Obstacles to Convicting Trump
Although Special Counsel Jack Smith has brought a strong case, he still faces significant challenges.

Will the Judge in Trump’s Case Recuse Herself—or Be Forced To?
Federal law requires a judge to step away from a case in which her impartiality “might reasonably be questioned.”
Also, by far the best continuing analytical coverage of this mess is at Emptywheel.
“See you in Miami on Tuesday!!! This is the final battle, our people are angry.” —Donald Trump
Trump and his #MAGADONIANS are about to encounter Special Counsel Smith's "...and Find Out" phase.


Finished The Shadow Docket. Now deep into Supermajority.
Totally excellent.
Then, this "textualism" thing.
Just starting Scalia et al. The Rucker book was dreadful.