Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A boring and pointless debate

Democracy can be so boring.  It's not sexy like the #metoo movement or outrageous like the daily tweets of the fool in the White House.

I hung on every word of the first two debates last June.  I was getting to know the candidates, and they differentiated themselves significantly.

But on Tuesday night, July 30, after I made a list of the ten speakers, I soon crossed out five of them.  Listening to them was pointless.  None of these five could beat dt.

  • Steve Bullock, governor of Montana--obnoxious.
  • John Delaney, rich guy and former congressman from Maryland--worse.
  • John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado--not a bad guy but boring.  Possible VP nominee.
  • Marianne Williamson of California--author and lecturer, interesting but can't beat dt.
  • Tim Ryan, congressman from Ohio--ditto.  At least as a VP nominee he could bring in a key state.

That left me with the two handsome youngish men, Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, Texas.  Again, I like their politics but they don't have a chance of defeating the ass in the White House.

So then I was down to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with my favorite, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  All three are more credible candidates, but IMHO, none of them can beat the clown that many fools will still vote for.

I would vote for any of these ten candidates if he or she is nominated by the Democratic convention next summer in Milwaukee.  But I don't think any one of these three senators can defeat dt.
  • Sanders--too old to win the votes of younger people.  
  • Warren--too female and too strident to win the middle-of-the-road voters.  I love her for being female and strident and smart and having plans to implement, but as Williamson said, people vote for personalities, not for plans.
  • Klobuchar--not enough money at the moment.  She could win Midwestern voters and those voters who are neither strongly to the right nor strongly to the left.  If she had money and more supporters, I think she could give dt a run for his money.  Your average Democrat would support her if nominated.  If, if, if...
As a result, I come to the Wednesday debate with a jaundiced eye.  I'm not sure either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris could defeat dt--and that's what this election is all about, given that the Senate is unlikely to remove this liar and Russia-controlled president from office.

Marianne Williamson made the most important point in Tuesday's debate when she called for reparations to descendants of slaves imported from Africa.  I am glad I witnessed the debate to hear her speak and to hear the others respond. 

Listen to her Prayer of Apology for African-Americans on Youtube.

Yes, today's economic differences between African-Americans and Euro-Americans are rooted in the kidnapping of these people, the enslavement of them to profit from their labor, and the Jim Crow laws that followed the emancipation.  

Monetary reparations have been needed for a long time.  Better late than never.

That's what democracy is all about--listening to a 2 1/2 hour debate to hear one good, concrete idea.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Gun Liberty vs. Assault Rifle Death

The Declaration of Independence:
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

Thank you, US Constitution, Amendment 2, for the deaths of a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl, and a 22-year-old young man yesterday in Gilroy.

Read the LA Times report today.

California outlaws assault rifles--so this killer bought his semi-automatic weapon in Nevada earlier in July.  The Supreme Court refuses to ban these rifles throughout the USA.

The Gilroy police responded in less than one minute--though they only carried handguns and the killer carried a semi-automatic rifle, illegal in the state of California.  He could have killed many more, but the police killed him within 90 seconds after he began.

The mayor of Gilroy, the sheriff, and others just held a press conference to report on the murders.  The details are heart-breaking.  7,000 people entered the gates, being checked for weapons.  One man cut a hole in a chain-link fence and entered with the assault-style rifle.

California Penal Code §25850 defines what constitutes a loaded weapon.
Semi-automatic firearms that the state has classified as assault weapons.50 BMG caliber rifles; and large-capacity magazines (magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition) may not be sold in California. The ban on large-capacity magazines was ruled unconstitutional March 29, 2019[11] but the ruling is on hold while the case is under appeal.[12] Possession of automatic firearms, and of short-barreled shotguns and rifles, is prohibited without a Dangerous Weapons Permit, that is received from the California Department of Justice pending a good reason for their possession such as: manufacture, repair, collecting in limited cases (pre-1990), movie prop guns or dealing to police/military.

Here's Amendment 2.  May it be repealed or its current interpretation defeated in the Supreme Court.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Three young Americans lost their lives, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness yesterday evening--thanks to the access of a crazy man to an assault rifle in the state of Nevada and thanks to the National Rifle Association and all those who support continued access to guns and rifles, not by a well-regulated militia, but by any insane fool who decides to buy a gun.

Fight these mass killings! Fight the NRA!  Vote out of office all those who support this wrong interpretation of the Second Amendment--including our fool of a president.

Note: this shooter's grandfather had been a Santa Clara County supervisor, and the shooter himself had connections on his social media to misogynist and racist views.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"Un-American" - Republicans speaking to Mueller

The Mueller Report with tabs to show sections
and ten instances of obstruction
Parts of today's hearings before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee were outrageously rude to former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

They were painful to listen to.

"You compiled  nearly 450 pages of the very worst information you gathered against the target of your investigation, who happens to be the President of the United States," charged Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R) PA.  "You did this knowing that you were not going to recommend charges, and that the report was going to be made public."

Robert Mueller stared at him stoically.  "Not true."

"I find those facts, and this entire process, un-American!" this Guy said, triumphantly, ignoring that Mueller had said the charges were not true.

"Did you know that your report would be made public?" 


"You published this report, unfairly airing the target's dirty laundry....  You left out evidence favorable to the president...."

Mueller tried to interrupt the speech to say that he had tried to be fair in the evidence he included and the things he did not include.  But the tirade continued, ignoring that Mueller had rejected all Guy's claims.

"You made a decision not to prosecute!"

"No, we made a decision not to decide whether to prosecute or not."

Never mind that Mueller served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.  His report was un-American in the eyes of this Guy.

Never mind that Mueller was appointed to head the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election at age 72, after he had retired.  His report was un-American, says Guy.  

Never mind that Mueller's resume includes being United States attorneyUnited States assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division; a homicide prosecutor in Washington, D.C.; acting United States deputy attorney general; and director of the FBI.  His report was un-American in the eyes of this Guy.

This little Guy still thinks he can ignore Mueller's answers and string out a feeble web accusing Mueller's investigation of being un-American--in Guy's attempt to defend the lies and criminal acts of the 45th president.

Never mind that Mueller had poured heart and soul into this work for 22 months.  His work and his report were un-American.

In the eyes of many Trump supporters, doing anything at all against President Trump is to be un-American. 

Every time this Guy made a charge, Mueller denied it.  

One might think that it would be American to serve in the Armed Forces, to accept an assignment from the Acting Attorney General appointed by the president, and to work hard on that assignment.

But any work that exposes flaws in President Trump is un-American in the eyes of these folks.

I faced a charge of "un-American" myself in June when I walked into a gas station in Virginia wearing a button that said "Anyone but Trump in 2020."

"That badge you're wearing is un-American," said a man about fifty years old buying something at the cash register.

So it's un-American to express a choice for the next president?  It's un-American to protest the actions of 45?  Free speech and free voting are un-American?

And it's un-American to select capable prosecutors to investigate the president--never mind that our Constitution sets up guidelines for investigating and impeaching a president who breaks the law.

Watch this despicable speech masquerading as a series of questions.

Then watch Rep. Tom McClintock (R) CA do exactly the same thing--present a speech interrupted by a few questions that he doesn't permit Mueller to answer.  

"I've got limited time," these two representatives and many others stated as their excuse for interrupting Mueller when he attempts to answer a question.

"Having desperately tried and failed to make a legal case against the president, you made a political case instead.  You put it in a paper sack, lit it on fire, dropped it on our porch, rang the doorbell, and ran!" McClintock charged.

"I don't think you will review a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us," replied Mueller.

And the gavel came down to end McClintock's tirade and allow another raving Republican his turn to insult the former director of the FBI and acting US deputy attorney general.

Now that's un-American--insulting another American acting in good faith.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

House Wins, POTUS Loses

CNN live coverage of votes on resolution to censure dt
The House of Representatives formally censured the 45th president today!

(Why is this such a big deal?  Why hasn't it been done before?)

I was taking my dog to the vet for a bordetella vaccine and check-up--not really paying much attention to the news.  Though I noticed some kind of news on the television in the lobby, I took out a book to read while waiting for our turn with Dr. Kenneth Jones, the legendary doctor and defender of the animal kingdom.  

What with a male pit bull mix whimpering to say hi to my female corgi, and two other dogs in the lobby, I had a few interruptions.  

"Really, it's all about me," says Stormy on drive to the vet.
During one of the times I looked up, I realized that a live session of  Congress was being shown by CNN with a tally of Republican and Democratic votes.

It hit me: the statement of censure that Nancy Pelosi had promised the House would vote on!

I leapt from my seat to watch the totals change as additional Congressmen and women cast their votes.

Then the yea votes passed 200, and 4 Republicans were included in the count, as well as one independent.

Hooray!  The House finally stood up to Trump with 240 in favor, 187 opposed.  (Why is this one slap on the hand a big deal?)

And then Rep. Al Green of Texas stood up and introduced articles of impeachment against El Presidente.  Thank you!  

Together these signs of backbone give me hope for impeaching this scoundrel.

Rep. John Lewis's speech against racism was so moving:
“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest levels of government, there is no room for racism,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who fought for civil rights in the 1960s, said in the final minutes of the House debate.

Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, all the Democrats, and the four courageous Republicans who went down in history as standing up against a racist tyrant.  And thanks to Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the Republican party this month.  Good move, Justin!  To the six Republicans who did not vote, thanks as well.  Continue to question your party's unquestioning loyalty to a liar and racist.

Thanks to The Hill for their report on the Ferocious Four:

The Republicans who voted for the resolution were Reps. Susan Brooks (Ind.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Will Hurd (Texas) and Fred Upton (Mich.). Brooks is slated to retire at the end of her term, while the other three are moderates in competitive districts. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Madame Speaker, Impeach Now!

Today's New York Times
I'm fed up with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unwillingness to begin impeachment proceedings against the fool trying--but not trying very hard--to act as the 45th President of the United States.

Should he go down in history as a president who was not impeached?  

It's not about whether the Senate will remove him from office.  It's about doing the right thing.

If the House does not impeach Donald Trump, it ignores the 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice in the Mueller report. 

It also ignores Articles I and II of the Constitution that set impeachment as our only recourse for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

If Trump is not impeached, the House is essentially rendering the impeachment clauses null and void.

People care a lot about Amendments 1 and 2 to the Constitution.  Doesn't anyone care about Articles 1 and 2?

Today the NY Times placed "Fanning the Flames, Trump Unleashes a Taunt: 'Go Back" as a large, 3-line head over a news report by Katie Rogers and Nicholas Fandos and a News Analysis by Peter Baker.

Today the LA Times published a front-page report "Trump's tweets criticized as racist" by Laura King at the bottom of the front page, 

Newspapers spend a lot of time deciding what goes on the front page, and where.  The upper-right corner is reserved for the absolute top news, and "below the fold" is where lesser articles belong if they are still worthy of the front page.

I'm grateful that the NY Times played this story as an important milestone in the continuing decline of dt's presidency.  But I understand the LA Times decision to withhold attention from him and his outrageous, give-me-another-headline tweets. 

At this point it's not about whether the Senate will remove him from office.  He must head the list of impeached presidents that now includes Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.  It's unlikely that his own party will force him out, as occurred with Richard Nixon, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Chester Arthur.  

When the Mueller report came out, I stopped pushing for impeachment and posting about Trump in this blog.  I figured it was a done deal.  Wrong.

Come on, Nancy, let's get the impeachment show on the road.  Otherwise the reality-tv president will continue to write the script.

I appreciate your call for a motion to reject his tweets.  But the American people demand impeachment.

Ms. Pelosi said on Monday that the House would move to officially reject President Trump’s xenophobic tweets about members of Congress just hours after the president had warned Democrats against uniting “around the foul language & racist hatred spewed” from the American women whom he recently told to “go back” to their own countries.  [See today's NYT update.]

Yay--representatives are writing this motion as I sit here typing, reports the LA Times
As Trump doubles down on racist comments, House to vote on condemning them

See also this great list and analysis of obstruction in the Mueller report done by Quinta Jurecic for the website Lawfare.

And see this interview on Salon with David Priess, author of History's Guide to Removing Unable, Unfit, or Unpopular Chief Executives.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A president who likes to build fear

Metropolitan Detention Center, Los Angeles

Trump just wants to instill fear and garner more media attention, reports the LA Times.  

Only 0.2% of the one million immigrants with deportation orders will be picked up in his much-advertised sweep to begin Sunday--maybe.


Yuk.  He can never get enough attention.

But one needlessly deported family member is too much.

Faithful activists around the country and the world protested the deportations of non-criminals.  

In Los Angeles they gathered at ICE's Metropolitan Detention Center in the downtown area, near Union Station, where the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights had held a rally on June 23 after dt publicly threatened a sweep, which he then postponed.

During the June 23 demonstration, "Detainees could be heard rapping on windows from the building above," reported Jade Hernandez on KABC's Eyewitness News.  

Protesters gathered on a side of the detention center where buses come in and out of the facility. Detainees could be heard rapping on windows from the building above, so protesters chanted their support.

My friend in Michigan attended a rally last night at the Federal Building in Ann Arbor, chanting "Close the camps" and singing "Blowin' in the Wind."  

They also held a candle light march, but Ann Arbor's latitude is 42 degrees north, so at 9:05 pm it still wasn't dark yet.

Thank you to Cindy Carcamo and Andrea Castillo for the LA Times report, which points out that dt used Twitter to threaten a sweep on June 17 and then cancelled it.
Louis DeSipio, a political science professor at UC Irvine, said it’s difficult to know whether the planned raids actually will happen this time. If they don’t, it may backfire on Trump.
“The president is skilled in the art of distraction,” he said. “But there is a cost in that each time he cancels it, he disrupts his relationship with ICE because they have to put a lot of effort into preparing for these things.”

It's also important to note that President Obama deported more immigrants than 45 has done.
Despite his aggressive rhetoric, Trump’s overall removal numbers during his first two years in office pale in comparison with those of the previous administration. Trump’s administration is on track to remove only about 8% more foreigners in fiscal year 2019 than President Obama’s last year in office, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data.
During the height of deportations under Obama in 2012, immigration officials removed 409,849 foreigners. By comparison, peak removals under Trump came last year, with 256,085.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Gender & Pronouns

I - we
you - you
he she sie - they

Are you still using the pronouns she and he?  Really?  If so, you're behind the times.

Some people--such as Farhad Manjoo writing "Call Me 'They'" in the New York Times a few days ago--advocate abandoning he and she and using they for everyone, whether referring to one person or twenty.  

This plan goes a step beyond just using they for two purposes:
  • for two or more people... and
  • for one non-binary person.
Thank you to Letha Dawson Scanzoni for calling this opinion piece to my attention, as well as a follow-up discussion in response in the NYT a few days later.  The follow-up, "I'm with 'They,'" is a compilation of readers' comments.  

Pronouns turn me on, so I read the pieces and followed Manjoo's link to Gretchen McCulloch's "A Linguist on the Story of Gendered Pronouns" published in the daily blog The Toast.  She cites one place in Chaucer with "they" as singular and one in Caxon and one in Shakespeare.  

All three of these uses of they/them/their have a plural meaning in their context:

Whoever finds him blameless, they will come up...  
Each of them should make themselves ready...  and
Everyone salutes me as if I were their friend.

So speaking with that sort of plural meaning (though one part of the sentence is technically singular) was done then as well as now.  Big deal.  I don't care.

It's a huge jump from that to making a decision to give up she and he--to refer to a single person as they in all sentences.

Doing so is especially awkward in situations where there is a group of people, and one might want to distinguish between one person's action or statement and the whole group's action or statement.  

For example, "They didn't like it when they pushed them around" as opposed to "He didn't like it when they pushed him around" or "She didn't like it when they pushed her around" or "They didn't like it when he pushed them around" or "They didn't like it when she pushed them around." 

Using they for singular can be very confusing in situations where you need to refer either to an individual or to the whole group, such as in newspaper reporting, writing minutes, or testifying in court.  Example: "They suggested ordering an hors d'oeuvre, and they agreed" as opposed to "She suggested ordering an hors d'oeuvre, and they agreed."

Here's where you can stop reading if you're not a pronoun geek like me.

I prefer using zie or sie for singular nongender nominative case, zir or hir for singular nongender possessive, and hem for singular nongender objective case.  (In Old and Middle English, hem could be used to mean either him or them.)  

After all, English is a Germanic language and German uses Sie for both the singular feminine nominative case of the second person (in formal address--Du in informal) and for the plural nominative case of the second person, as well as for the singular feminine nominative case of the third person and for the plural nominative case of the third person.  Sie is a very handy word (and sometimes confusing) in German.

In other words:

She threw the ball, He threw the ball, Zie or Sie threw the ball.  

Plural: They threw the ball.

For the direct object:

I hit her, I hit him, I hit hem.   Plural: I hit them.

To show possession:

It is her ball, his ball, hir or zir ball.  Plural: It is their ball.

Advantages of just adding sie, hem, and hir:
1) Only three words need to be added, all referring to nonbinary singular.  Doing this shouldn't be too hard at a time when many in our society are adding nonbinary gender to our thinking.
2) It permits clarity.  For instance, "I slept with her" vs. "I slept with them."
3) It avoids using our only neutral pronoun, it, which we reserve for objects or animals. 

1)  It preserves gender distinctions while speaking or writing and referring to the third person.  Some people want to stop constantly specifying gender.
2) People have to learn three new words.  

To throw gender completely out of our third-person English pronouns would not be helpful.  English already omits gender in I, we, you.  Many languages require gender for you and for objects of all kinds--tables, hands, stars.  

Keeping he and she and adding sie for nonbinary persons does heighten the emphasis on gender in English, but most languages have far more gender distinctions in them than English does. 

Thank you, Letha, for inviting me into this fascinating debate.  Clearly I'm hooked.

And here's a chart for you showing English and German pronouns as they stand now.

Nominative case
I throw the ball. - We throw the ball.  --->Ich werfe den Ball. - Wir werfen den Ball.

You throw the ball. - You all throw the ball.  --->Du wirfst den Ball.-Sie alle werfen den Ball.

He throws the ball.  - They throw the ball.  ---> Er wirft den Ball. - Sie werfen den Ball.
She throws the ball.  --->Sie wirft den Ball.

Direct object
I saw you. - I saw you all.  --->Ich habe dich gesehen.-Ich habe euch alle gesehen.
I saw him. - I saw them.  --->Ich habe ihn gesehen. - Ich habe sie gesehen.           
I saw her.  --->Ich habe sie gesehen.

Indirect object
Give her the ball.  --->Gib ihr den Ball.
Give him the ball. --->Gib ihm den Ball.

Possessive case
It is my ball. - It is our ball.  ---> Es ist mein Ball. - Es ist unser Ball.
It is your ball. - Y'all bought it. It is your ball.  --->Es ist dein Ball. - Sie haben es gekauft. Es ist Ihr Ball.
It is her ball. - It is their ball.  --->Es ist ihr Ball. - Es ist ihr Ball
It is his ball.  --->Es ist sein Ball.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Joy Harjo, our new Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo - photo from Wikipedia

Hooray for the Library of Congress in appointing Joy Harjo as the 23rd poet laureate of the United States.

She's a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation and the first Native American poet laureate.

Rachel Martin interviewed Joy for NPR's Morning Edition.

Kevin Young interviewed  Tracy K. Smith, the previous poet laureate, for The New Yorker Radio Hour.  
See https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/aaron-sorkin-kills-a-mockingbird-and-tracy-k-smith-takes-a-journey

Tracy read a poem called "No" by Joy Harjo, which was published in Tracy's 2018 anthology American Journal: 50 Poems for Our Time.

Tracy drove around the US reading poems and interviewing people during her two-year poem as poet laureate.

I ordered the American Journal--as soon as I get the book, I'll add the poem to this blog post.