Donald’s “judge shopping” anti-liberal dog whistle tweets (Updated)

Update: I got two terms confused, “judge shopping” vs. “jurisdictional arbitrage.” I’ve updated the paragraph accordingly

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of California stopped implementation of Donald’s executive order to eliminate money for sanctuary cities because it was likely unconstitutional. The case was heard by California because it had been brought by the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, both located in California.

And yet this is what Donald tweeted:

What part of “US District Court judge” did you not understand, Donald? Sure, if you sue, you’ll go through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, before you get to the Supreme Court, but you haven’t done that yet. Continue reading

SVR this week means Science Video Roundup

Title: SVR means Science Video Roundup this week

Saturday Video Roundup this week is all science videos.

First, Neil DeGrasse Tyson on science as a method to discover truth and how that truth is true whether you believe it or not.


Continue reading

There is more to experiencing life than mere sight

Try this: stop, close your eyes, and focus on your other senses instead. You might discover a world beyond your eyes that you haven’t payed enough attention to.

Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

“Your eyes can deceive you – don’t trust them” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars

We experience the world so much through our eyes. Poets and philosophers have talked about our eyes being windows into our souls, about a picture – perceived via our vision – being worth a thousand words. Those of us who are able to see normally (or with minimal correction to our vision) too often pity the blind and nearly blind for being unable to experience the beauty of a sunset or appreciate the artistry of a painting.

But Obi-Wan’s wisdom is known to anyone who has studied how easily our brains can be tricked by visual illusions. Our eyes can be deceived. As amazing a product of evolution eyesight is, it isn’t perfect by any means. And while it’s possible to have a profound experience looking at a photograph or inspecting a microbe through a microscope, we have other senses. And it’s possible to have profound experiences that are driven by our other senses as well.

Over the years, I’ve had profound experiences that had little or nothing to do with my vision. Not always good experiences, but there’s nothing in the definition of “profound” that requires the experience to be a good or pleasant one. Continue reading

Imperial Stormtroopers are precise in exactly which galaxy far, far away?

Image credit: Knowyourmeme.com

If you have ever watched the original Star Trek TV series, you know that anyone on an away team wearing a red shirt was doomed to die. Except Scotty – Scotty is invincible.

And if you’ve seen the original three Star Wars movies (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi), you’ll know that Stormtroopers can not hit anything. Combine these two foibles and you get the SF fanboy/girl joke at right.

Which brings me to my point. Continue reading

Gorsuch should be the Democrats’ deserved pound of flesh

Neil Gorsuch and Merrick Garland (image credit: CNN)

If I was a US Senator, here’s what I would do about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats filibustering his vote, and the possibility of rule changes.

First, I’d let Gorsuch’s nomination fail. If it took a filibuster by the Democrats to kill it, so be it. After what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley did to Merrick Garland’s nomination, the Democrats have a right to their pound of flesh. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. And if it takes a filibuster against Gorsuch to give them their pound of flesh, so be it.

Second, I’d tell Donald that I was going to let Democrats have their pound of flesh and to get his second choice option ready to submit, because he is going to need his backup nominee. Continue reading

American vs. unAmerican values, according to the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States

When it comes to the Second Amendment, only the extreme positions of banning all firearms or allowing unrestricted access to all firearms are unAmerican.

The Second Amendment (image credit: tenthamendmentcenter.com)

For other articles on unAmerican values, click here

Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, the United States of America would not exist. As such, the values laid out in these two documents are, by definition, American values. And any values held in opposition to the values in these documents are, again by definition, unAmerican.

The Second Amendment

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.

Due to the unclear wording of the Second Amendment and the presence of an unexpected comma, the Second Amendment’s intent is vague. Until 2007, the Supreme Court had held that the Second Amendment applied to only the collective ownership of firearms of militias, most commonly understood to be the National Guards of the various states. In the District of Columbia vs. Heller decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court overturned this long history and held that the Second Amendment defined an individual right to possess firearms. Heller also held that the right was not unlimited, although exactly what limits are permissible has not yet been tested at the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, however, the confusing language and sentence structure of the Second Amendment means that Americans can hold a variety of opinions about firearms and still be aligned with American values. Continue reading

Tesla is insanely overvalued vis-a-vis Ford and GM

Tesla logo

Every once in a while I’m reminded in stark terms why I’m not a market trader, why I don’t consider even the most sacrosanct economic “laws” as nothing more than generic guidelines, and why the market should always be treated as if it’s almost, but not quite as rational as a rabid, starving badger suffering from mad cow disease. Today’s example is this: Tesla shares break $300 for the first time, closing in on GM’s market cap.

In no way is Telsa anywhere near as valuable as Ford or GM. Last quarter, Telsa sold 25,418 vehicles. Ford, on the other hand, sold nearly 10x that many in March alone. And GM? They sold 203,133 vehicles in March. Continue reading

American vs. unAmerican values, according to the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

Values that run contrary to the Constitution of the United States of America are, by definition, unAmerican values. Let’s consider the rights defined by the First Amendment.

The First Amendment (image credit: Odyssey Online)

For a discussion of unAmerican values pertaining to the Declaration of Independence, click here.

Without the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, the United States would not exist. As such, the values laid out in these two documents are, by definition, American values. And any values held in opposition to the values in these documents are, again by definition, unAmerican.

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The United States was not founded as a Christian nation. It is not now and has never been a Christian nation. Anyone who wants the United States to be run in strict adherence to Christian morality – or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Wiccan morality – is advocating for an unAmerican position. Similarly, requiring prayer in a public school is also unAmerican. Continue reading

Obamacare repeal exposes House Republicans’ policy nakedness (update #2)

After seven years of political games without having to govern, House Republicans are damned if they repeal Obamacare, and damned if they don’t.

(Image credit: The Nation)

Updated: Added WaPo link and quote at the bottom.

Update #2: Paul Ryan pulls the AHCA. See CNN link and details at the bottom.

So the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was supposed to go to a vote yesterday. That didn’t happen. So the AHCA is being debated on the House floor and voted on today instead. After Donald threatened to “walk away” from repealing Obamacare if the House couldn’t pass the bill today. And after the Congressional Budget Office re-scored the amended bill as still costing 24 million people their health insurance and reducing the deficit by less than half of what the introduced bill did ($150 billion over 10 years for the amended bill vs. 334 billion originally).

The wonderful thing is that, no matter what the House Republicans do today, they lose. Either they overreach and risk losing their seats in 2018, or they fail to deliver on their “repeal and replace Obamacare” campaign promises and risk losing their seats in 2018. Either way, they lose. Continue reading

Donald’s “America First” budget puts Americans dead last

Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

This is the America First budget. In fact, we wrote it using the president’s own words. We went through his speeches. We went through articles that have been written about his policies … and we turned those policies into numbers. (from NPR)

That’s what Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said while briefing reporters on Donald’s proposed budget.

America first.

How does eliminating the healthcare of 24 million people put America first?

How does eliminating funding for the Independent Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial chemical accidents and ensures the safety of the public, put America first?

How does eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which ensures universal access and helps fund non-profit, community television and radio stations around the country, put America first?

How does defunding the organization that helps train and pay for minorities to access civil rights lawyers, the Legal Services Corporation, put America first? Continue reading

The Congressional Budget Office scores Trumpcare: immoral

Obamacare gave 23 million people medical insurance; Trumpcare will strip it away from 24 million.

Congressional Budget Office logo

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Trumpcare will cost 24 million people their health insurance, with 14 million of those losses coming next year (assuming Trumpcare passes this year).

As the end of 2016, Obamacare lowered the uninsured rate from right before Obamacare took effect to 10.9%. That’s about 23 million more people with health insurance.

Medicaid (the medical insurance program for the poor) would be cut by $880 billion over the next 10 years. That reverses the tax increase levied on the wealthy to pay for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and the CBO estimates that Trumpcare will result in 14 million poor people losing Medicaid over the next 10 years. 14 million people.

I’ve been happily paying higher taxes without complaint for years so that my income could subsidize health insurance for people who couldn’t afford it – like friends and former coworkers who had been out of work and either had to self-insure for an insane amount of money or go without insurance and pray they didn’t get sick. It was the moral thing to do in 2013, and it still is. Continue reading

Nearly everything you need to know about TrumpCare

Trumpcare (image credit: NotionsCapitol)

TrumpCare’s first draft was written in secret. Obamacare was written largely in the public view.

TrumpCare was written over the course of a few weeks. Obamacare was written over the course of four months.

When drafting Trumpcare, Republicans didn’t get public input from doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, or patients’ advocacy groups. Democrats held public hearings with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and advocacy groups to get their input on early drafts.

TrumpCare was introduced to the House before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to estimate how much money TrumpCare would save or cost, or how many people would lose their insurance. Obamacare went through multiple revisions, most of which were reviewed by the CBO. Continue reading

Large cuts to NOAA research, satellite operations will degrade weather forecasting and military preparedness

Donald’s proposed deep cuts to NOAA satellite operations will make weather forecasting less reliable and run counter to Donald’s goal of “rebuilding” the military.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

According to the Washington Post, Donald is considering deep cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of his proposed budget. The anonymous sources upon which the Post based their article cautioned that the exact details of which programs would get cut and by how much would likely change, but the relative magnitudes of the reported cuts provide some insight into Donald’s thinking:

Based on these numbers, we can surmise that Donald doesn’t want to impact weather forecasting (which is important to literally everyone), wants to maintain the fishing industry, but wants to cut most climate science and government-funded research out of NOAA. The problem is that it’s not going to work. Continue reading

Republican overreach will hopefully lead to massive losses in 2018

I wouldn’t have asked for single-party Republican rule, but now we’ve got it, I hope they overreach badly and get tossed out on their asses for it in two years.

republicanlogo-svgOver the years, I’ve occasionally wondered whether it would be a good idea to let the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency. My logic went like this: once they’re in power, they’ll overreach so badly that the next midterm and Presidential elections will go overwhelmingly to the Democrats. It’s not that the Democrats wouldn’t necessarily overreach, but rather that Democrats’ sense of fairness and general willingness to follow data to wherever it leads makes them less likely to overreach as badly. That and the fact that it’s past time for the pendulum to swing back toward the left (not just the center-right, as it did under Obama).

But I’ve always concluded that, while the Republicans taking over might sound good in theory, practically speaking it was a very bad idea for a variety of reasons. The Republicans might install a right-wing conservative onto the Supreme Court. They would probably cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. They likely lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and middle class. They might cut unemployment insurance, food stamps, and housing credits for the poor. They would be more likely to get the US into even more wars and spend even more on an already massively military-industrial complex.

So even though I’ve thought about voting Republican in an attempt to force the country back to the left in the following election cycle, my values wouldn’t let me.

Which brings me to 2017. Donald, who claims to be a Republican, is President. Republicans control the House of Representatives. Republicans also control the Senate. And while I certainly wouldn’t have wished for this to happen, it has. Continue reading

Steve Milloy, a liar-for-hire and immoral hypocrite, was part of Donald’s EPA transition team

Milloy has been manufacturing fear, uncertainty, and doubt for dirty industries since he helped the tobacco industries continue addicting and killing customers in the 1990s.

Steven J. Milloy (image credit: Fox News)

Steven J. Milloy (image credit: Fox News)

Donald doesn’t care about the truth. He doesn’t mind the truth, but when the truth or objective reality get in the way of Donald’s plans, he keeps the plan and jettisons the truth. I learned yesterday about one of the more insidious examples of this fact, specifically in reference to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Not only did Donald tap Myron Ebell, a denier of the reality of industrial climate disruptionNote 1 who is associated with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead his EPA transition team, but Steve Milloy was one of the members of the team as well.

Milloy is not be a household name, but he’s long been known as a liar-for-hire who is willing to sell his dishonesty to any dirty industry facing regulations that might curtail their profits, especially the tobacco industry, the agriculture industry, and the energy industry. I personally have been aware of Milloy since 2007, when I first stumbled across a “survey” that he had created in order to manufacture fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the reality of industrial climate disruption. Continue reading

Hensarling lies about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on NPR

Jeb Hensarling is resorting to “alternative facts” in his quest to drag the US back to the bad old days of “innovative” mortgages and unregulated financial companies that gave us the Great Recession.

Jeb Hensarling (image credit: Dallas Morning News)

Jeb Hensarling (image credit: Dallas Morning News)

Last week I heard an interview on Morning Edition that had me fuming at my radio. Steve Inskeep interviewed Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) about Hensarling’s goal to eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB). After listening to the interview, I had a question for Mr. Hensarling: are you a liar, or do you actually believe your own bullshit?

Hensarling, who has been pursuing the destruction of the CPFB as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said

Somebody has to protect consumers, not just from Wall Street but protect them from Washington as well. And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has hurt consumers. Free checking at banks has been cut in half. Banking fees have gone up. Working people are finding it more difficult to get mortgages.

The bottom line is the best consumer protection are competitive, innovative markets that are transparent.

Yes, it’s true that some working people are having a hard time finding mortgages, but it’s not because mortgage markets aren’t transparent, competitive, or innovative. It’s because those working people are not making enough money to afford the house they want, or have poor credit histories. Free checking isn’t available as much any more because banks are no longer allowed to make up the costs of the free checking by charging exorbitant overdraft fees. In other words, the CPFB is doing exactly what it’s chartered to do – protect consumers from predatory banks and bankers. Continue reading

Music for CPAC and America’s bigoted Administration

The organizer of the Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Dan Schneider, called Richard Spencer and his cadre of white nationalists (aka the “alt-right”) a “hateful, left-wing fascist group” got me thinking about this song. Well, that and how poorly the current Administration is doing lately with respect to bigotry. You know, broadening the deportation guidelines to include pretty much everyone from south of the border, the immigration and travel ban, reversing the guidance on equal access to restrooms for transgendered men and women, and the like.


(this version was put up by TMBG themselves, BTW) Continue reading

Donald attacks the media, FBI, and intelligence agencies over Flynn’s “resignation”

A real President would promise to find out just how deeply Russia has influenced his Administration. Then there’s Donald Trump….

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Donald and Michael Flynn during the campaign (image credit: Yahoo News)

Three days ago, I wrote a post I titled “After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood.” In it, I wrote

Donald lost tonight, and every time he’s lost he’s gone on Twitter or stood before an audience to rant against whoever was responsible for his loss. I anticipate that Donald will attack the media again for reporting the facts about Flynn and his Russia contacts. And I expect he’ll instruct his new Attorney General to figure out who in the FBI was investigating Flynn, and who leaked the information that Flynn was being investigated….

Two days ago, we learned that Donald knew about Flynn’s Russia contacts, and that Flynn had lied about them, since January 26. And supposedly, Flynn was asked to resign because of “eroding trust” between him and Donald. Riiiight.

I don’t know about anyone else, but if I found out my National Security Advisor had been lying to me and was susceptible to blackmail by foreign powers as a result of it, I’d have fired him almost immediately, not waited two weeks until the media broke the story and forced my hand. Because, you know, national security. But maybe that’s because I take stuff like this seriously, rather than treating the Presidency like a business investment. Continue reading

Sebastian Gorka has no business being in government, never mind on NPR’s Morning Edition (updated)

Sebastian Gorka is fantastic as a spokesman for Donald – Islamophobic, apparently proud of his family’s association with an organization that collaborated with the Nazis, and a proven liar.

UPDATE: I changed the header sentence to remove a reference to Gorka’s ancestors as being Nazi collaborators. The fact remains, however, that the Vitezi Rend was associated with the Nazis during WWII, so I’ve reworded the header accordingly.
gorka_trumpI’ve listened to Rachel Martin interview Sebastian Gorka – a Bannon hire and former Breitbart national security editor who is an Islamophobe with a documented history of lying and who wore the uniform of a Nazi-affiliated Hungarian organization on air during Donald’s inauguration – twice now on NPR’s Morning Edition. Yesterday’s experience was not pleasant. He’s an expert at dodging questions and staying on message even when Martin breaks in to stop him from dominating the air time with bullshit.

There was more slime coming out of my speakers when Gorka was talking than in all of the Ghostbusters films combined. Continue reading

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, Donald will be out for blood

Donald doesn’t lose well. I doubt he’ll ignore the role of the media and FBI leaks in Flynn’s resignation

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn (image credit: Politico)

Michael Flynn, Donald’s now former National Security Advisor, resigned from his position this evening. In a statement, Flynn said he “misled” Vice-President Pence about a phone call Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States in which the two discussed having Donald lift sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Flynn’s contacts with Russia had been under investigation by the Justice Department since Donald took office, if not before then, and the fact that Flynn was being investigated had been widely reported in the media. In fact, the Washington Post reported just tonight that the FBI considered Flynn a blackmail risk due to his lying to Pence.

Continue reading