dreamshark: (Default)
 John McCain finally remembered where he kept his integrity and cast the surprise 3rd No vote to torpedo the last stupid remnant of the Obamacare Repeal Attempt. 

That final vote seems to call for a sports analogy. Probably a Hail Mary Pass, but I'm not entirely sure I know what that means. Is it still a Hail Mary if it thuds to the ground and the other team piles onto the ball and causes it to implode? I think I know enough about football to know that this is an undesirable outcome, and that's what seems to have happened.

It was a ludicrous plan.  The idea was that they all knew that "skinny Obamacare Repeal" would be a completely terrible and unworkable law but it would be okay to pass it if they could strong-arm Paul Ryan into promising not to bring it to a vote when it got back to the House (which he never did, btw). That way it wouldn't be the Senate's fault that they couldn't come up with a single constructive idea for "remaking health care." And by this time the Senators were so exhausted that they actually said this OUT LOUD. To REPORTERS. On VIDEO. Lindsay Graham called it a "half-assed plan" and "politically the dumbest thing in history."  And THEN HE VOTED FOR IT. Dean Heller of Nevada drew out his Hamlet act for weeks with conscience-stricken soliloquies and repeated conferences with his state's popular governor. Then HE VOTED FOR IT. 

I'd given up on John McCain after he bravely rose from his sick bed and flew to the Senate to express his strong convictions that this was the wrong way to make laws - and then voted YES on the first two votes. Oy. Then instead of going home to recuperate, he kept staggering around the Senate floor for the next 20 hours looking like he was about to pass out. But he was still there when the final "skinny repeal" vote came down and damned if he didn't join the ladies from Alaska and Maine in a resounding NO. Way to go, Senator McCain. 
dreamshark: (Default)
 El Presidente's latest attempt to distract the public from the things they should actually be worrying about appears to have backfired. Even a Republican congress that is still eager to rescue their constituency from the burden of affordable health insurance seems startled and appalled by Trump's sudden announcement that transgender people are no longer welcome in the military. Sufficiently appalled for a significant number of them to ACTUALLY SPEAK UP.  And not just the wishy-washy "moderates" - we're talking senators from Alabama, Utah, North Carolina, and more. How things have changed in the past couple of years!

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff responded with a memo that basically said, politely, that they do not consider the president's social media pronouncements to be policy directives. And more importantly (quote from Defense Department's official statement, but the Joint Chiefs made a similar statement):

">"The Department will continue to focus on our mission of defending our nation and ongoing operations against our foes, while ensuring all service members are treated with respect,"

I certainly could be wrong, but I think the next few days will bring a confused flurry of backing off and denial from the White House. And we can all go back to enjoying the spectacle of the new White House Communications Director attempting to eviscerate the Chief of Staff. I keep intending to watch Game of Thrones some day, but I'm beginning to think that with this White House GoT is redundant. 

dreamshark: (Default)
 While trying to read today's news I realized that I really don't know what is meant by common terms like "the White House" and "the administration."  I am also very murky on how the DOJ is organized, who exactly the FBI works for, and what the Director of National Intelligence does. In the past, all of these terms tended to refer to pretty much the same nexus of power. Not any more, apparently.

Anyway, after a short google-fest I am both less and more confused. According to Wikipedia:
  • the Department of Justice (DOJ) is headed by the Attorney General
  • the AG reports directly to the President - so does that make him part of "the administration?" I always assumed so.
  • the AG is a member of the cabinet - so does that make him part of "the White House?" Again, I always assumed so.
  • the FBI is under the jurisdiction of the DOJ, so the head of the FBI (Comey) reports to the AG (Sessions)
  • but the FBI also takes direction somehow from the Director of National Intelligence (nobody, at the moment)
So what does it mean when??
  • the head of the FBI "asks" the Justice Department to declare an assertion by the president to be false? Comey is asking his boss to contradict his own boss, presumably, which seems unlikely to happen. But if Comey is the one with the information, is there something stopping him from making that statement himself? He didn't seem to have any problem making provocative announcements about Clinton during the campaign without permission from the DOJ.
  • For that matter, exactly what is the difference between publicly asking your boss to announce "X" and making that announcement yourself?  
  • What does it mean to say that "no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the DOJ?" Isn't the AG a "White House official?" And doesn't he direct the DOJ?

ETA: Ugh. Dreamwidth editor does really ugly bullet points. Another strike against it. I may just go back to LJ.

dreamshark: (Default)
 Al Franken reminds Jeff Sessions: ‘The ambassador from Russia is a Russian’

I'm proud to be from Minnesota right now, as my junior Senator leads the charge against the increasingly appalling and probably criminal Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Besides getting off a pretty good deadpan quip on CNN, it was Franken who asked the question that led to Sessions' bald-faced and well-documented lie:

"At a confirmation hearing in January, Franken posed the following question to Sessions: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

“I'm not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions replied. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I didn't have — did not have communications with the Russians.”

I just went to Al Franken's website and sent him an email thanking him for leading the charge and encouraging him to push for Sessions' resignation. I also went to Amy Klobuchar's website and sent her a similar message strongly encouraging her to do likewise. I used the subject line: "Jeff Sessions Should Resign" to make it easy for staffers to tally my message. 

dreamshark: (Default)
 I predict that Donald Trump will not be impeached but will resign the presidency within his first year. After 3 weeks it is clear that he's not enjoying this gig nearly as much as he expected to, but he's going to have to soldier on for a few months to save face. But he has to realize that he is screwing up more every day and most of the world is laughing at him, and he hates that. The big danger has always been that one of the horrible people he surrounds himself with would get control of the White House and proceed with his or her own agenda, but after 3 weeks I am in awe of the amount of ungovernable chaos the Trumpster has created. If he keeps following his instincts to set his advisers at each other's throats, the chaos will continue indefinitely.

It's up to the Republican congress how long they want to put up with this. I figured it would be at least a year before most of them concluded that they had extracted all of the power that they could out of the situation and started thinking about threatening impeachment. But, my goodness, things seem to be moving along way faster than that. It's no surprise that the Democrats are calling for a "broader investigation into President Trump's ties to Russia," but ...  
OMG look at today's headlines. It's only been three weeks, people!

"Republican leadership in the Senate said that it was likely that Mr. Flynn would be asked to speak to the Intelligence Committee..."

The Senate's second-ranking Republican and other GOP senators have called for an investigation into the episode, building on a string of investigations underway on Russian interference in the US elections. 

“It’s dysfunctional as far as national security is concerned,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said of the Trump White House. “Who’s in charge? Who’s in charge? Who’s making policy? Who’s making decisions?”

Indeed, Senator McCain. Indeed.

dreamshark: (Default)
So here's what we ended up with. I like it. The rainbow colored one can be seen from quite a distance, drawing attention to the other one which is rather self-effacing and easy to miss by itself. 

The colorful sign came from Northern Sun Alliance on East Lake St. The plain and earnest one ("We Stand With Our Neighbors") was commissioned by Kingfield Neighborhood Association and made available for a suggested donation of $10 at a couple of neighborhood businesses.  If you would like a similar yard sign, try checking with your neighborhood association.  Northern Sun Alliance has a few other signs as well, but having trouble keeping them in stock. 

dreamshark: Make America Kind Again (kind)
I'd like to put out one of those welcoming anti-anti-immigrant signs, but haven't figured out which one I want and where to get one. Do you have a sign in your yard? What signs have you see that you liked?
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Amber forwarded me this link: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda

It was put together by former congressional staffers, and it's pretty amazing. Have a look. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
It was supposed to be a 10-minute handshake and photo op, with maybe a few more awkward moments waiting for the ladies to return from the White House First Lady Tour. But then President Obama did something that I think few people would have the grace to carry off. He swallowed his pride, anger, and disappointment and sincerely offered his hand in friendship to his successor. They sat down and had a serious, substantive 90 minute conversation about the governmental transition.

Trump's a pretty transparent guy, and it seemed abundantly clear from his demeanor afterwards that Obama charmed the pants off him. Trump almost seemed star-struck. The man who had no patience for pre-debate prep or briefings by his campaign team said he wished they could have talked longer and that he would absolutely be back for more of his new BFF's wise counsel. And two days later he IS UNIRONICALLY QUOTING SUGGESTIONS THAT OBAMA GAVE HIM.

Does this change everything? No, of course not. A shallow, self-absorbed bully with autocratic instincts and a horrifying roster of political friends is about to take control of the most powerful government in the world. Obama did everything in his power to stop that from happening, and failed. But when he had an opportunity to make what comes next a little less terrible he unhesitatingly set aside his own disappointment to take that opportunity and make the most of it. Maybe the effect will be negligible, but maybe it won't be.

I was so excited when Obama was elected. I really hoped that his message of unity, hope, and post-racist dialogue would take hold. That didn't happen. In a different time he might have been one of our greatest presidents, but with a Congress that was single-mindedly devoted to thwarting him there wasn't much he could do. Somehow he kept on keeping on with energy, grace, and dignity through 8 years of frustration and constant personal attacks. In a  time where there were damn few worthwhile role models in the public sphere, he continued to be the sort of person we all want our children to grow up to be. History may judge him as a failed president, but he is still a hero to me.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Garrison Keillor sums it up.
I don't always resonate with Garrison Keillor, but this essay pretty much nails it for me.

I got a very sweet email from my youngest nephew in Germany expressing condolences and offering sanctuary for my family if we want to flee the country. I appreciate the thought, but I think I'm actually more worried for Eastern Europe than I am for my own country. We'll muddle through at home somehow, but I'm afraid some other country is going to have to step into the Top Nation slot and beat back the Soviet menace. And it might well be Germany, which seems to have become the de facto leader of Europe. I can't say I'll miss being the Only Superpower. But I feel bad for the Ukraine and Lithuania and all the rest of the once and future Soviet Republic.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
I just don't know how to process this. I feel like the world has ended, but nothing has changed. Oh, except the stock market has probably crashed, right? I just got up and haven't actually seen the front page.But the stock market will recover. And honestly, I think the US will limp along domestically. Hell, it's possible that the Republican Congress will finally realize they have nowhere else to hide and will start actually doing their job. It will be interesting, probably verging on Game-of-Thronesian, watching the Republican Establishment try to work with their new president. Assuming that my favorite journalists can stay out of internment camps and keep reporting, anyway.

It's foreign policy I am seriously seriously worried about.  Putin and his Russia were unabashadly rooting for Trump, and now they have won. This would not be a good time to live in Eastern Europe.

I think our time as Top Nation is over. Trump has no interest in foreign policy beyond "build a Yuuuuge wall" and insult everybody on the other side of it. He has been repudiated by pretty much every Republican foreign policy expert, so he can't even really delegate it. I can't even imagine who he would nominate as Secretary of State.

Being Top Nation is no picnic, and in many ways it has not been good for us. But now some other country will have to step up, and I don't know how that will play out. I'm pretty sure Russia is eager to volunteer. But then, so is China, following a completely different path.
At least Minnesota finally pulled it together to go for Hillary, but it took an embarrassingly long time (too close to call? Seriously?) And Wisconsin? Oh, God, Wisconsin. After all the terrible things Trump said about your native son, Paul Ryan? Iowa wasn't really a surprise, but with Wisconsin's final collapse into the Republican abyss my state is completely surrounded by red. Except Canada, of course. Hey, maybe it's time for Canada to step into the breach and become the next super-power. Good luck with that, guys.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Minnesota instituted early voting this year, and it's been a huge hit. Obviously it is handy if you will be out of town on election day, or working, or otherwise unable to vote at your local polling place. But other than that, why are people doing it? I biked over to my polling place for my jolly Election Day ritual, and was saddened at how empty it was. Not that I wanted to stand in a long line, but I'm talking about a large gym with a dozen or more eager poll workers and maybe 6 voters. As I approached the long table with the voting registers you could see them all begging with their eyes, "Please, be A-E!"  "Please, be F-K!" They told me that the line for early voting yesterday was out the door and down the block. WTF?  There were also a ton of entries in the election book stamped "AB" for "Absentee Ballot," which I gather is a different procedure entirely.

Mail-in ballots unquestionably reduce the chances of your ballot being counted, but I can't think of any objective downside to early "in-person" voting except that it makes Election Day less fun for me. But I really don't see the UP side for most people. If you voted early (as so many people I know did) can you tell me why? How long did you have to wait in line? I'm just idly curious. And I missed y'all on Election Day
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Okay, it's not that hard to find out where my polling place is.
It's not even too difficult to be reminded which ward-precinct I am in (since I got yanked out of Ward 10 and moved to Ward 8 I have been unable to remember).

But how the hell do you find out which Park District, School Board District, Hennepin County Commissioner District you are in? There used to be maps online and I can't find ANY of them. I've just given up completely on the Soil and Water Conservation Board. Is that even an elective office anymore? And is there still a Library Board?

Anybody have links to voting district maps?

ETA: Okay, I found a map for Hennepin County Commisioner Districts, but it is hella misleading. What this map says to me is that I am in District 4 (Minneapolis). But when I drilled down a couple of clicks to a more detailed map it turned out I'm in District 3, which is labeled St. Louis Park on the larger map. Terrible.
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
"I've heard this sort of speech a lot in the last 15 years and trust me, it doesn't sound any better in Russian."
-- Gary Kasparov, former World Chess Champion turned dissident Russian politician
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Oh, Paul, how could you? I don't agree with your politics, but I used to have respect for you. You seemed like one of the rare politicians that was both competent and principled. For a couple of weeks there it looked like you might actually take the high, hard road of opposing the candidate at the top of your ticket purely because you know the difference between right and wrong. But you caved.

But you're still the most photogenic and visually expressive politician in town. And now I don't have to feel the slightest guilt in relishing the ongoing gallery of photos of Paul Ryan Contemplating the Candidacy of Donald Trump. (Wouldn't this would make a fantastic art exhibition once the election is over?) To see the full exhibit, try googling "Paul Ryan commenting on Donald Trump images."

Here's my current favorite: Paul Ryan the day after Trump let loose his comment on the "Mexican judge." Which also happened to be the day after Ryan finally endorsed the Donald (without ever using the word "endorse," although he owned up to it later. Reluctantly. Through a spokesman.)
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Which is to say, the Republican nomination process is still in total disarray!

Much as I would have enjoyed seeing The Donald get his head handed to him, this is better. Just when it looked like a more or less sane anti-Trump candidate was emerging, Mr. Momentum fell on his face and somebody completely different came out of the woodwork to win a strong second. I wonder how long they can keep this up? Another 6 months, I hope. 
dreamshark: (sharon tire)
Some might say that the very existence of Donald Trump makes Godwin's Law inevitable. But there is no need to invoke Nazi comparisons in reacting to Trump's latest racist outburst. The Spanish Inquisition will do nicely.
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