Friday, June 24, 2022

For the Record: "The people, through their elected representatives..."


Sorry, make that "all or most".

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Wednesday Cheap Shots

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

For the Record: Prayers and Thoughts

A really awful Supreme Court decision handed down today in a church-state case from Maine, where a private-school voucher program to compensate for the lack of public high schools in rural areas forbade funding for "sectarian" schools in which religious instruction was part of the program:

Monday, June 20, 2022

Republicans Want to Kill You department


Age-adjusted morality rates over five presidential terms show rates declining twice as fast in counties that vote Democratic. Via British Medical Journal.

Per Kaiser Health News:

study published June 7 by the BMJ examined mortality rates and voting patterns in the past five presidential elections, and found that people who lived in jurisdictions that consistently voted Democratic fared better than those that voted Republican.

“We all aspire to live in and exist in a sort of system where politics and health don’t intersect,” said Dr. Haider Warraich, the study’s lead author. “But what this paper actually shows is that politics and health, especially in the United States, are deeply intertwined.”

The patterns held broadly across age, sex, rural vs. urban residence, and race/ethnicity, except that there's very little gap among Latinos/Hispanics (who had the overall lowest mortality rates), and the gap is largest among white people, particularly white people in rural areas:

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Constitutional Republic

Juneteenth engraving by Thomas Nast. ca. 1865, via American Civil War Museum.

Just thinking about the degree to which the Juneteenth celebration might be, now that it's a national holiday, a commemoration of what historian Eric Foner called the Second Founding, following on the Civil War, in which the Republic of 1787 was replaced by the Democracy of Abraham Lincoln's intentions as expressed in the Gettysburg Address (that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish) and as spelled out in the explicit constitutional changes of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 19th Amendments (respectively abolishing chattel slavery in 1865, defining citizenship and offering equal protection under the law to all citizens in 1866. guaranteeing voting rights regardless of race in 1870, establishing the income tax in 1913, establishing direct election of senators in 1913, and guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of sex in 1920).

This really is what we're arguing about when conservatives say that the United States was not founded as a democracy but as a "constitutional republic"—feel perfectly free to say that, guys, and fight over the finer details, but the point is that it's not that any more: it was that, and we fixed it, to some extent, in the course of eradicating slavery, by changing the Constitution. Now, it's something different, and more democratic, as a consequence of each of those changes, though much work remains to be done.

Nathan Newman is making practically the same statement, with a slightly different terminology (to him the signing of the Articles of Confederation created the Second Republic and the 1787 Constitution the Third) and a reduced list of Amendments:

Juneteenth, celebrating the final word of the end of the Slave Constitution reaching the last slaves in Texas, marks the foundation of the Fourth Republic of our Nation, the one where the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments fundamentally reshaped the nation into a new constitutional order. As the southern states were readmitted only under conditions set by the US Congress, the new Republic’s principle was one of firm subordination of state authority to national power. Enforcement Acts would send troops to the South to enforce new civil rights laws, creating voting rights for all (male) Americans, a Freedmen’s Bureau would establish federally-run schools in the South, and other laws would ban segregation and build public works throughout the nation, most notably an Intercontinental Railroad. This is the nation most liberals recognize as our modern nation's core source and model.

I like how he emphasizes the Whiggishness of the new country, its commitment to an enormously more powerful central government engaged in infrastructure and education and the promotion of equity. The 20th-century amendments in my list further the same project—the income tax following up on an idea first implemented by the Lincoln Administration in the Revenue Act of 1861 (which also levied a federal tax on land, an idea to which I and my friends Professors Piketty, Saez, Zucman, and Warren remain deeply attached) to allow the federal government to raise a lot of money for its plans on a progressive basis, the direct election of senators remedying a ridiculously old-fashioned method of nominating them, and women suffrage repairing a hole that was becoming a scandal.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Texas has chosen the Juneteenth holiday to release its 2022 "platform":

You can't make it much clearer than that. Oh, wait, yes you can:

  • If approved, the new party platform would include declaring homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice," repealing the 16th Amendment that created the federal income tax, and mandating that Texas students "learn about the humanity of the preborn child,” in part by forcing students to listen to ultrasounds of gestating fetuses.

They're basically asking to reverse the results of the Civil War.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

For the Record: One More Time for the Second Amendment

This is a theme I keep recycling a little, but I felt this version came out extra-pithy, and also it's got a Boebert malapropism in it.

Not that the founders, speaking firmly, weren't some of them slaveholders too, as they certainly were, but it's still important that Virginians Washington, Jefferson, and Madison all agreed that slavery was a horrible crime. They were kind of like mythical Franklin Roosevelt saying, "Now make me do it," but unfortunately nobody did. Whereas those other Virginians Patrick Henry and George Mason were really explicitly freaked out by the possibility that Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, among others, might just up and ban slavery outright (as indeed they did, not that long afterwards) and before you knew it start helping their African property to escape from servitude

"Expedition" must have been the word she was hunting for.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Grift for the Mill


Image by Yellow Scene Magazine, December 2020.

A surprise, at least to me but I believe to pretty much everybody, in today's Select Committee hearing, was the video shown at the end. While the rest of the day was devoted as scheduled to showing how widespread the knowledge was in the administration that the stories of election fraud were entirely false, and Trump was repeatedly told they were false, the last bit was about something Trump did with the lies, which was to raise money, some $250 million worth by January 6 2021, as Washington Post live-blogged it, under very Trumpy false pretenses:

Amanda Wick, a committee investigator who has previously prosecuted financial crimes, said the Trump campaign sent millions of fundraising emails between Election Day and Jan. 6, 2021. The emails asked supporters to “step up to protect the integrity of the election” and promoted an “Official Election Defense Fund.”

The committee, Wick said, “discovered no such fund existed.” Instead, it was a “marketing tactic,” as a senior digital adviser on the Trump campaign confirmed to investigators.

I'd just like the record to show I was telling you guys about this back in December 2020, on the basis of WaPo reporting, how money raised by the frantic emails after the election loss was actually ending up mostly in Trump's "leadership PAC" Save America (a leadership PAC is a vehicle through which politicians can do things from which a normal campaign committee is prohibited—like spending it on personal stuff.

It's Save America, which started out taking 60% of the contributions raised for the fictional "Official Election Defense Fund" and has been taking 75% since 19 November, and Trump can do whatever he wants with that three-scoops share. 

The story doesn't suggest he might just put it in his own bank account, in other words, but it's pretty clear he could, without any consequences; FEC just doesn't look at leadership PAC spending. It's one of those norms nobody ever thinks of violating. Even young Duncan Hunter only stole his $250,000 from his personal campaign committee; if he'd ripped off his leadership PAC instead (every congressman has one), he would not be in prison today. One of those norms, like presidents releasing their tax returns, or putting their financial interests in a blind trust, or not running businesses where foreign diplomats could spend millions of dollars in return for a favor, that Trump has specialized in ignoring.

You see what I'm saying: Trump, and his full partner in the Trump Make America Great Again Committee Ronna Romney McDaniel, are raising this money under blatantly false pretenses, not because they have any hope whatever of reversing the election and keeping their promise to the donors, but because they just want the money; McDaniel perhaps only for "legitimate" campaign purposes, but there's no reason to assume Trump wouldn't use it to pay off his and his family's personal lawyers in their own jungle of litigation (as he's been known to do, illegally, with contributions to his charity), or indeed just salt millions away for himself, maybe in those bizarre golf course account books.

Only. now, the Committee seems to have some idea exactly where the money is going:

That PAC, Save America, has sent millions of dollars to allies and former officials in the Trump White House, as Wick detailed. More than $200,000 has gone to the Trump Hotel Collection.

The committee has been looking for this information, starting with a subpoena for records from the Republican National Committee's fundraising vendor, a company called Salesforce:

the subpoena to Salesforce would help investigators understand the impact of the false messages sent before January 6, the flow of funds and whether contributions to the RNC and Trump campaign were directed to the purpose indicated in the fundraising emails. 

RNC sued to stop them in early March, and a (Trump-appointed) judge ruled in favor of the House committee on 2 May, but RNC got an injunction on 25 May that would effectively stop the House from getting the information before the hearings, but it looks like it has some other sources:

...The Select Committee no longer seeks the Salesforce documentation on a highly expedited schedule, and the Select Committee will continue to evaluate its needs for information on these and other related issues as additional material potentially becomes available from other sources.”

Can't help thinking Roger Stone and his thugs might have been among the recipients of all this cash, not to mention Rudolph Giuliani and his shysters, and that there's a real case of wire fraud against Trump and Mrs. McDaniel lurking in here. We'll see.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

For the Record: Working the Ruffs

Republican reaction to the January 6 committee hearings continue to develop along not unpredictable lines, like this scumbag's bragging about how he hasn't read any of the indictments:

Mulvaney has no suspicion, I guess, that Trump forces could plan anything without his help, like the way he set up Trump's extortion call to President Zelenskyy with the long months of denying Ukraine the congressionally mandated funding for the Javelins. He expected them to be paralyzed without him.

Then there's the. straight-out McCarthyism from our pal Senator Rubio:

Friday, June 10, 2022

Party of Weasels


Boys, proud or otherwise; photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images via Salon.

Talking point no. 1 from Republicans seems to be that Trump couldn't have been plotting a coup, since he asked the National Guard to send troops to Washington for the January 6 "Will Be Wild" event, specifically to protect the Capitol from the mob he encouraged (that's not disputed) to march on it—if not for Speaker Pelosi's obdurate refusal of this sensible request, there would have been no assault on the building.

Except the Speaker has no authority to make such a decision, and wouldn't have been asked; it was for the Capitol Police to do that, and nobody in fact asked them, or the Speaker either for that matter, or at least no evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that anybody did, or even talked publicly about such an idea until Trump spontaneously brought it up himself, 28 February 2021, in a Fox interview; asked whether there had been anything he wished he had done differently that day, he said yes, but slipped Trump-style into explaining that the mistake he has in mind was actually Pelosi's and not his at all:

"We said to the Department of Defense, the top person, days before we had the rally … I requested … I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen, I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready. They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn’t think it would look good. So, you know, that was a big mistake."

The germ of truth being that he apparently really did speak to the "top person" at Defense, that is acting secretary Christopher Miller (after his firing of secretary Mark Esper, over Esper's correct insistence that it would be illegal to impose martial law with active-duty troops deployed against protesters during the George Floyd demonstrations of summer 2020), but Miller's recollections don't describe a president asking for the National Guard so much as asking about it: trying to find out what plans, if any, Miller had, not "days" but hours before the insurrection, the previous night, at a meeting on some other subject:

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Anticipating the hearing

Contempt for Peter Navarro ought to bring us all together, don't @ me. Photo from the Irish Independent.

Shorter David F. Brooks, "The Jan. 6 Committee Has Already Blown It", The New York Times, 8 June 2022:

We don’t need a committee to simply regurgitate what happened on Jan. 6, 2021. We need a committee that will preserve democracy on Jan. 6, 2025, and Jan. 6, 2029. How on earth would knowing what happened on Jan. 6 2021 help us prevent it from happening again?
Brooks is really more interested in concern trolling the Democrats on their hopes of using the coup attempt as a campaign issue, as reported in The Times by Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater, who also tells us that

Republican lawmakers have already begun pushing a counternarrative to dismiss the hearings as nothing more than political theater at a moment when Americans are more concerned with kitchen-table issues like the rising price of gas and a baby formula shortage.

On the part of the usual suspects, such as Marco

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Hispanics May Be of Any Race

Desi was willing to be non-white. For religious reasons. Good for him.

Some heartening media news on Friday was the story that TelevisaUnivision has sold 18 Spanish-language radio stations in 10 major markets including Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Las Vegas as well as New York and Los Angeles to a new organization, the Latino Media Network, which seems to be led by Democrats Stephanie Valencia (who served as Obama's Latin outreach director) and Jess Morales Rocketto,

At least Marco was pretty upset for some reason:

Maybe it's because one of the Miami stations (the one he chose to @) is Radio Mambí, famous for pushing the worst disinformation through the Spanish-speaking community in the Miami—that Black Lives Matter is a "Satanic cult" and that BLM and "antifa" warriors masterminded the January 6 2021 invasion of the US Capitol, and hoped to kidnap Trump from the White House, and also pushing Replacement Theory:

Friday, June 3, 2022

For the record: Identity Politics

 A sequence that got disjointed into a bunch of different threads, presented here in part just so I could organize it a little better.

Heh, I didn't know that.

Literary Corner: Giant Girl


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Victory Lap


Special Counsel John Durham, rear, in his first movie role, Horse Feathers, 1932.

Let's just review why the FBI started the Crossfire Hurricane investigation sometime toward the end of July 2016.

After a long nomination campaign in which foreign relations played an unusually big role, dominated by candidate Trump's interest in "getting along" with Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, he knew "very well" after hanging out with him in the 60 Minutes green room in September 2015

and who was said (also falsely) to think Trump was a "genius", and during which Democratic National Committee computers were hacked by what they claimed (correctly) were Russian intelligence forces, some surprising things happened during the Republican convention in Cleveland, attended by Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak; 

For the Record

Monday, May 30, 2022

We Have Met the Élites and They Are Ted


Ted Cruz's vast kitchen "breakfast area", with a view of the also vast patio, via New York Post.

He doesn't actually spend $23K/month for security. Looks like Republican donors do that, with the blessing of the FEC, and not to protect his house but his campaign travel, as he roams the country pretending to be a serious person looking for votes for the—ah, 2024 election, and for all I know he needs the protection, as Mark Kelly and Raphael Warnock, both running for 2022 and for different reasons subject to really frightening threats, certainly do, which Kelly's opponent apparently thinks is funny:

When a GOP candidate seeking to run against Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly recently released an ad featuring him in a Wild West shootout with Kelly and other prominent Democrats, members of both parties criticized the spot. 

Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, formed a gun control advocacy group after surviving a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson in which a gunman killed six people. Senate candidate Jim Lamon posed as an old-time sheriff having a shootout with “the DC gang” in the ad, which aired during halftime of the Super Bowl on Tucson’s NBC affiliate. His campaign subsequently said it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

The "DC gang", lol. That's another code for those "élites" we keep hearing about who are totally not country music–loving assault rifle–toting homeboys like Senator Cruz. 

But, just to be clear, his whole neighborhood may not be strictly gated, that's for the neighborhood's lower class, the condo owners, not three-story 4000-square-foot five-bedroom mansions like his own, but the 24/7 private security is definitely there.

River Oaks is a subdivision within the Houston Super Neighborhood #23 and is located in between Uptown and Downtown Houston. River Oaks is said to be one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Texas and the U.S. as a whole. It is two square miles of mansions and exclusive estates, each valued in the millions of dollars. Security for the area is maintained by a private agency called the River Oaks Patrol, which boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the city of Houston.

We don't know how much he pays for it, but we do know it's the kind of personal service–oriented. company that will take care of your dog if a cold snap and massive citywide power failure force your family to flee to Cancún, as we learned when that happened to the Cruz family last year.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this evidence that Ted Cruz knows exactly what "élite" means, which has little to do with tastes in popular music or guns: it means him (along with, no doubt, some people who are less committed to tax cutting for the rich and deregulating capitalist excess, but mostly him). 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The First Moral Majority


Denarius from 44 B.C.E., the year of Julius Caesar's death, showing Julius on the obverse and his claimed ancestor (and Aeneas's mother), the goddess Venus. Image by Classical Numismatic Group via Wikipedia.

Religion played a curious role in the beginning of the Pax Romana starting around 30 B.C.E. with the final victory of the person we think of as Octavian—though that's just an adjective, apparently, meaning "guy from the Octavius family"; he'd been going through a lot of names since the assassination of the great-uncle and adoptive father Julius Caesar in 44 left him heir to two thirds of Julius's vast fortune and most of his political following, starting with Gaius Caesar and then, after the deification of Julius in 42, Divi Filius, "Son of the God"), and then Imperator Caesar, "General Caesar" without any forename, like a Star Wars character, and for a while Romulus, after the city's mythical founder and first king, another deified character. And finally in 27 got the Senate to grant him, alongside the political title Princeps ("First" in the Senate), a religious name, Augustus ("consecrated, sacred, reverend" according to Lewis and Short, reverendus being of course a Latin gerundive or future passive participle, "to be revered in the future"), which I take to be an announcement that he, like his great-uncle, would be a god when he died. As subsequently happened. 

Augustus was a political genius, without any doubt, and his aim to secure internal peace after a good 60 years of constant civil war in Rome and all across its enormous territories in Europe, Asia, and Africa, seems like a worthy one—especially since it really worked for 200 years, through unimaginably bad emperors and reasonably good ones, the institutions he created as a legacy being more durable than his frail human heirs. But there's something spookily familiar about the way he did it, putting a permanent end to the tradition of representative government in the Republic to take absolute power for himself, but selling that to the public as a conservative policy, a return to the good old, virile Republican virtues, the representation of a Moral Majority to replace a political one.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Whig History


The Tories and the Whigs, Pulling for a Crown. Via History Collection.


It's religion that allows the excesses of authority, in exactly the way I describe, in that discussion and others: power is constrained by limits of force and, later — post 1215, as we're taught in school — by law (a concept that reaches its revolutionary fruition in the 18th Century, in America and France). For millennia the king had unlimited power, as an expression of ownership, he owned the country and sublet it to his Lords, who were called into service to defend it against other fiefdoms or countries. The point is that the whole thing was property + force = authority — two utterly concrete (meaning, not abstract) elements — until law was placed atop the hierarchy...

religion lets a particular group 1) control the framework of morality absolutely, undergirding states, treaties, laws, everything else...2) within that authoritarian mandate, lets a small group absolutely control the parameters...and 3) is designed to work in terms of the antiquated, the outmoded, and the medieval (so that the elements of civilization are, as they say, "deprecated"). It's the perfect formula for tyrannical control.

If I'm correct in my utopian predictions, the 21st Century will be remembered as the moment when humanity finally outgrew and cast off that ancient shackle. We can't pretend the question isn't being forced — we could hold onto all of it the way we retain so many outmoded rituals (like the father "giving away" the bride in marriage), but they're forcing us to call the question and dump it all.

Jordan's picture, which I may well have been reading wrong, and if so forgive me, looked to me like what they call "whig history", the picture of history developed in Britain after the end of the Napoleonic wars, as the Whig party was turning into the Liberals, characterizing the whole of history as

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Does inequality cause gun violence? More than you might think

We interrupt our regular scheduled programming to bring you a take, relevant to yesterday's horror in Texas:

It is clear, or ought to be clear, that we have too many guns in this country, far too many, just crazy amounts of them serving no valid purpose (as Joe Biden pointed out there aren't any deer out there in Kevlar vests), but it should also be clear that we have too much untreated mental illness, partly because we won't spend any money on it 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Notes on Christianism

Still from Pier Paolo Pasolini, Il Vangelo di Matteo (1964), via a blog called "El Primo de Marty Feldman".

So Cardinal Cordileone ("Lion's Heart") has excommunicated Speaker Pelosi, at least when she's in San Francisco—I don't suppose he can stop priests elsewhere from ministering to her—over her support for laws permitting abortion in a society that is 78% non-Catholic. 

Excommunication seems pretty crazy to me all the way around. It's not like shunning, where the criminal is sent into complete social exile. Excommunicated Catholics remain legally part of the community, they're even expected to attend Mass like everybody else, but they're barred from the sacraments, remaining in their seats while the congregation goes up to receive communion. It occurs to me that that is exactly the opposite of what happens in the Gospel narrative, as Matthew tells it: during the Passover seder service on the evening before his death, Jesus literally hears Judas's confession (though Judas doesn't realize he's confessing)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Narratology: The Plot Against the King


Kash Patel has released his memoir, on how he personally saved "handsome King Donald" from the machinations of Hillary Queenton and Keeper Komey to knock him off the throne, before he even got a chance to mount it! Or as he puts it himself in his own little blurb, "the true story behind the Steele Dossier, and the Russian collusion narrative," only with better costumes, and fewer details. Only $19.99 from Beacon of Freedom Publishing House. I think Kash is the flashy bearded wizard in blue-green, at upper left.

I hate to tell you, this may not be the actual story, not only because Donald wasn't ever actually the king, which we basically don't have in our country, but also because Special Counsel John Durham, hired by former attorney general Barr to investigate the insidious plot in which the Clinton campaign commissioned a British Russia expert to make up a crazy story about candidate Trump conspiring with Russian intelligence in order to, um—get the FBI to find out whether the crazy story was true or not, has so far been unable to find any evidence that it existed. 

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, because as you or I could have told him, it didn't. The FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign was inspired by Georgie Papadopoulos and his prophecy that the Russians had thousands of emails that they could use to sink the Clinton campaign, and it turned out that they actually did have thousands of emails that they used in the hope of sinking the Clinton campaign, and Trump was on TV asking them to please find more and saying "I love WikiLeaks!" And even that wasn't enough to persuade the FBI to investigate Trump himself, which waited until he became president and made himself look ridiculously guilty by firing the FBI director, telling the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador at an unannounced private Oval Office meeting,

Friday, May 20, 2022

The Brooks of Wrath

David Brooks getting to know his deplorables. Image by Driftglass.


David F. Brooks, fan of data-heavy perspectives on policy issues, taking exception to a data-heavy perspective on a politics issue ("How Democrats Can Win the Morality Wars"):

I’m a fan of FiveThirtyEight, a website that looks at policy issues from a data-heavy perspective, but everyone publishes a clunker once in a while. In February, FiveThirtyEight ran a piece called “ Why Democrats Keep Losing Culture Wars.” The core assertion was that Republicans prevail because a lot of Americans are ignorant about issues like abortion and school curriculum, and they believe the lies the right feeds them. The essay had a very heavy “deplorables are idiots” vibe.

(Reading FiveThirtyEight for its coverage of policy issues is a lot like reading Playboy for the arts criticism, eccentric to say the least—I can't believe Brooks said that, unless he actually doesn't know that "policy" and "politics" in English mean two different things. Everybody knows the sexy part is the horserace stuff.)

Is the core assertion of the piece (by Alex Samuels and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, inspired largely by Glenn Youngkin's victory in last fall's Virginia gubernatorial race) that Republicans prevail because "a lot" of Americans are ignorant about issues like abortion and school curriculum so they believe the lies Republicans tell them? Well, no, it really isn't. It's that Republicans carefully choose issues to lie about that aren't really issues; things most Americans don't need to know much about, that can be exploited not factually but emotionally—

B. Franklin Update


Garden angelica as depicted in Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1887, via Wikipedia

I was telling you how Benjamin Franklin, at the tender age of 23, was making fun of his ex-employer Samuel Keimer for accidentally publishing a kind of guide to self-induced abortions in his Philadelphia newspaper. 

A wonderful discovery from Molly Farrell at Slate is that 19 years later, in 1748, he published such a guide himelf, in all seriousness, as a public service, by tacking the Virginian John Tennent's The Poor Planter's Physician onto his pirate edition of a popular British how-to manual, The Instructor; Tennent's treatise included advice on how to deal with a missed period, the "suppression of the courses", a "common Complaint among unmarry'd Women", by treating it (a week before you "expect" to be missing it!) with angelica, also known as "bellyache root":

Franklin’s choice to get Tennent’s pamphlet into the hands of readers all over the colonies meant that anyone learning to read, write, and calculate with his book would also have access to the leading available treatment for ending a pregnancy. Tennent’s handbook prescribes angelica, an herb known to be an effective abortifacient in the early stages of pregnancy for thousands of years, and which was frequently recommended across early modern herbal books.* Moreover, the recipe refers to several herbal abortifacients known at the time:

For this Misfortune, you must purge with Highland Flagg, (commonly called Bellyach Root) a Week before you expect to be out of Order; and repeat the same two Days after; the next Morning drink a Quarter of Pint of Pennyroyal Water, or Decoction, with 12 Drops of Spirits of Harts-horn, and as much again at Night, when you go to Bed. Continue this 9 Days running; and after resting 3 Days, go on with it for 9 more.

Farrell connects the publication with Franklin's lifelong promotion of education for girl and women, especially in math (which was the main subject of The Instructor), as well as with the further evidence contra Alito of how "deeply rooted" abortion rights were in "our history and traditions" if your world was a world in which women had some autonomy . It's a lovely piece, with an illustration so good I don't want to steal it, just go read it.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Zinger That Wasn't


Some effort to award young Doocy a point over the new White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday, in her official debut, on the part of this RealClear reporter:

I don't know whether the story is going to have any legs or not, but in the first place, everybody but billionaires and MMTers recognizes that raising taxes is a way to reduce inflation—inflation is when there's too much money circulating, and taxation pulls the money out of circulation. Though its effectiveness must depend on who or what is getting taxed, and what possible side effects it might have; some Bloomberg idiot at WaPo writes, for instance, that it can cause an overtime rejection crisis among the fed-up workers

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Election Day


Image via The Geek Anthropologist.

New Yorkers from upstate and Long Island may not even realize it, but today is Election Day for them—an election in which hardly anybody normally bothers to vote, for their local school boards (in New York City, we don't have them at all, having surrendered the Education Department to mayoral control under the Bloomberg administration), because how is that even important?

It's becoming important now, as a key component of the web in which Republicans are attempting to take control with the bogus issues of "critical race theory" and anti-trans terror focusing on girls' bathrooms and sports teams, and the right to bully LGTBQ+ kids in general, and COVID masking and shutdowns. The enemy can bring out voters in some force, no doubt generally old people with no schoolchildren of their own; former GOP lieutenant governor and celebrated Pants-on-Fire liar Betsey McCaughey warns readers at the New York Post that 

In school-board elections from Long Island to Albany and westward Tuesday, New York parents outraged by the indoctrination and sexualization of their children will try to wrest control.

Don't let them succeed. Please please please check with your local media and find out what you can about the candidates and vote! On other races...

For the Record: Grindelwald on "Mainstream Democrats"

I didn't spend much time on the East Side during my ten years in Buffalo, to my shame, if you like, and certainly to my loss, as is proven by the one occasion I remember—a visit to a jazz club somewhere near Jefferson Avenue to hear a couple of sets by the McCoy Tyner Quartet, which was transcendentally good, maybe 1978. 

I won't say I was like Bill O'Reilly being astonished to learn that they had cloth napkins in Sylvia's in Harlem, because I wasn't, but I wish I would have thought about going there more often.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Literary Corner: Tragic Event


A Tragic Event

By Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

I think they had
a tragic event
in Buffalo.

Tragic event
in Buffalo with
numerous people being killed.

In 18 months in Afghanistan,
we lost nobody.
No, agreed, it's not funny.

I might as well note that, if he's really trying to brag about how he managed the US war against Afghanistan better than President Biden is managing the race war Trump is busy fomenting in New York State and elsewhere in the US, it wouldn't be true at all. The Trump administration was prosecuting a was in Afghanistan for all 48 months. Though the toll of dead American military was greatly reduced for its last 11 months, after the administration negotiated the surrender to the Taliban in February 2020 (leaving the Biden administration to carry the surrender terms out in August 2021, when the Taliban were unable to prevent their Qa'eda enemies from killing another 13 American soldiers), and included no further combat deaths, but I have no idea what "18 months" he would be talking about.

Via Wikipedia.

While the last year of stochastic terrorism on US soil under the Trump administration included 22 murders:

  • Of the 7,750 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2020, 53.1% were for intimidation, 27.9% were for simple assault, and 17.9% were for aggravated assault. Twenty-two (22) murders and 21 rapes were reported as hate crimes. The remaining 32 hate crime offenses were reported in the category of other.
  • Of the 3,147 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property, most (74.1%) were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. Robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and other offenses accounted for the remaining 25.9% of crimes against property.
That's following up on the 51 hate crime murders reported in 2019, including the killing of 22 in an El Paso Walmart in February in "response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas" (an imaginary invasion that was a big element of Trump's 2016 election campaign). 

Official statistics aren't out yet for 2021, but my impression is in spite of the horrific spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans and African Americans, there really have been fewer fatalities since President Biden took office (eight deaths last year from the Atlanta serial killer who claimed to be driven not by hate but by "sex addiction", three awful murders of women in New York City this year so far before Saturday's white nationalist massacre of 10 in Buffalo). It's idiotic trying to keep score anyway (remembering the times Norway and New Zealand jumped to the top of the world list), but I can't seem to help myself, sorry.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Good News, Maybe

Kash air guitar dance moves. Vvia India Abroad.

This is something I landed on completely by chance, and I have no idea who else knows about it, except to the extent that the Establishment Media don't seem to, or at any rate they aren't talking about it, involving Mr. Kash Patel, the Devin Nunes staffer who ended up playing a peculiarly ambiguous role in the Trumpery, alongside the equally ambiguous Ezra Cohen-Watnick, of getting cycled into Trump administration jobs where nobody wanted him or seemed to know what he was supposed to be doing, leading to a certain amount of paranoia in which I myself was, not to put too fine a point on it, participating, especially after Mark Esper suddenly got fired as secretary of defense (on 9 November, 2020, shortly after the November 2020 election) and Patel suddenly got posted to the Pentagon as chief of staff to Esper's acting replacement, Christopher Miller, and we all started wondering why (Trump had floated the idea of making him deputy director of the FBI before, and acting CIA director after that).

As with so many other still-mysterious aspects of the Trump presidency, there’s a riddle at the center of Patel’s many activities. Beyond the basic goal of advancing Trump’s personal agenda, was there a larger mission? Was there a systematic plan, for example, to gain control of the nation’s intelligence and military command centers as part of Trump’s effort to retain the presidency, despite his loss in the November 2020 election? Or was this a more capricious campaign driven by Trump’s personal pique and score-settling without a clear strategy?

I was imagining things less grand and horrifying than that; I was thinking of him and his fellow minions rifling through the files drawers of DOD and pulling incriminating documents, to keep them out of the hands of the huge investigations that would no doubt be engulfing them all  after President-elect Biden was sworn in. Maybe something like the documents he was wishing for in February 2021:

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Left But Not Left Behind


Mercator projection with Tissot's indicatrixes of distortion in the form of the red circles, each of which represents an area with a 10,000-kilometer diameter. Image by Justin Kumimune via Wikipedia.

A brief encounter with some Naderite yielded a pretty good analogy

it's kind of spectacular how much he didn't get it:

Yes indeed, you can, and you can flatten a globe into a Mercator projection,  but when you're planning global activities you don't pretend to believe that Greenland is really twice the size of South America or that Anchorage is 25,000 miles from Vladivostok. Making a practical use of the left-right spectrum as a basis for decision making is like deliberately setting out to make yourself an order of magnitude dumber than a flat-earther.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Lemon, Aid


Drawing via Antarctica Journal.

Roy at his Substack and others are understandably feeling heated about the people who aren't feeling heated at all, who call themselves liberals but seem more concerned about the comfort and quiet of Supreme Court justices in their upscale neighborhoods than the 50-odd percent of the population with wombs whose rights are being snatched away by those same justices

It’s pretty wild to see how easily leaders from both sides of the aisle accepted this fraudulent crisis at face value when the engineers of the assault on our rights were the alleged targets.  At the same time, when you talk about the very real danger the draft Dobbs decision poses to not only the right to abortion but also other unenumerated rights such as gay marriage and contraception — as can be clearly read in Alito’s opinion — not to mention the dead certainty that Republicans will use the decision to try and ban abortion outright nationwide, the toffs don’t seem nearly as exercised.

Part of the reason, I think, is because conservatives are loudly declaring that they won’t do any such thing, and the Very Serious Democrats cannot bring themselves to suggest they’re lying.

I'm wondering if the Very Serious Democrats—TV civility Democrats like Paul Begala and Chris Coons, are worth the attention. For one thing,