Au Courant

This week’s au courant links:

And finally, laying Richard III to rest:

Au Courant

Show 1 footnote

  1. The journalist(s) that dig up the Alzheimer’s meds Trump is obviously on will deservedly win the Noble. And if you don’t believe Trump’s well into early senile dementia, or that his closest family members aren’t aware of it, I’ve got this bridge in Arizona I’d like to sell you…

Lees and Orts

Drive the demons from the NSA data collection building known as “Titanpointe”! Mass exorcism ritual to purify data, reject false gods… and defend freedom of thought!

In the interests of metaphysically purging the edifice of the data it hoards and invoking a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations, on April 15th at 12 p.m. a cadre of priests, supplicants, and a volunteer choir affiliated with The Quiet American will exorcise the malevolent energy coursing through the so-called ‘Long Lines Building’ at 33 Thomas Street. This sacred day falls approximately one day before the rising of Christ, and three days before tax day.

Beginning with a prayer for the building’s physical materials and an invocation of the gods this architectural fiasco has insulted, exorcisors will then lay a perimeter of salt around the building to render ineffective the sinister frequencies it broadcasts. In a rite of liberation and fertility, thousands of pages of personal data, bouquets of flowers, and an ostrich egg will then be sacrificed to the building, thereby triggering a massive spiritual data hemorrhage that will release the banal facts of our lives back into their proper home – the ether — and expel the demons of fear and suspicion from the temple.

Windowless, monolithic, and creepy as all hell, the building at 33 Thomas Street is an altar to a false god, a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war and makes us suspicious of our neighbors, our own towns and cities, our own capabilities and impulses. Windowless, shuttered to the world that it is intended to spy on, the building at 33 Thomas Street is a maelstrom of negative energy, a black hole that sucks up light in the form of our personal communications, then in some alchemical sleight of hand returns that light in the form of a panic and dread which we are assured is the real common currency of our civic life. Rather than allay fears of the end however, this brutalist heap – designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain the employees working within its bowels for two weeks – broadcasts paranoia.

No word yet as to whether the demons were removed… 1

Lees and Orts

Jebus H. Fucking Kerist On a Pogo Stick… Could this look any more like a payoff?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s low-selling 2014 memoir netted him another $218,100 last year, pushing his total book payments to $783,000 over the past four years, according to his tax returns.

Cuomo’s 2016 tax records, which his office made available for review Tuesday, showed the latest round of payments from HarperCollins, the major publisher that gave him a lucrative book deal in 2013.

The governor’s memoir — “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics in Life — did not perform well: Just 3,200 copies sold since its release, including just 100 copies over the past two years, according to NPD Books, which tracks book sales nationwide.

It was a money-loser for HarperCollins, which ultimately paid Cuomo about $245 per book sold. It retailed at $29.99.

Lees and Orts

By now you’ve heard Jason Chaffetz has decided not to run for reelection next year, much less attempt to claim Orin Hatch’s Senate seat. 2 You can find Chaffetz’s stated reasons for his decision here.

Immediately the second guessing began: Does Russia have компромат on Chaffetz? Snopes is unwilling to say one way or the other, but the more cynical among us assume someone does.

Another theory is Chaffetz realized at a recent “town hall” meeting that his days of running roughshod over America in the name of ReThuggery is fast coming to an end. Another school of thought is that he’s positioning himself for a run at the Utah governor’s office in 2020. 3

Regardless which, if any, of these speculations holds true, the sooner the corrupt jackass takes his leave, the better.

Lees and Orts

Georgia don’t want no damned Dixie Democrat!

Five civil rights and civic engagement groups have filed suit against Georgia and its secretary of state for attempting to block registered voters from participating in a closely watched runoff election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

On Thursday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a complaint in the federal district court in Atlanta, arguing that the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act. That law sets 30 days before a federal election as the earliest permissible deadline for voter registration.

Georgia complied with the provision for the special congressional election held this past Tuesday. But because no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second election on June 20 ― a runoff between the top two finishers, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

Georgia election officials contend that the June runoff is simply a continuation of the special election this week, so they don’t have to allow newly registered voters to participate. The registration deadline for Tuesday’s election was March 20, and officials say anybody who registers after that day is not eligible to vote in the June runoff.

Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee, argues that under the federal law, Georgia can’t set the registration deadline for the June 20 runoff any earlier than 30 days before that election ― that is, May 22.

“The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Rosenberg told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.”

We’re surprised Kris Kobach isn’t down Georgia way, offering his tried and true services, if only to distract himself from yet another court loss.

Lees and Orts

What we’re (re)reading…
The Stars My Destination

Lees and Orts

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Reminds us of the mythical skyscraper in The City that was purposely designed to put a dangerous edge on anything left in its confines; razor blades, knives, sharp suits… No word on whether Emperor Norton started that one. Or even Bear himself. The City has always been full of characters.
  2. In fact rumors were swirling yesterday afternoon that Chaffetz could step down as early as today. As of this post…crickets.
  3. Perhaps even the presidency; his campaign people have parked the following two domains – jason2028.com and jasonchaffetz2028.com.

It Was Fantastic

HOFFMAN: That house is where we lived at the time. I never thought I would get home that day. My assistant who had ridden with me at my request asked permission to leave. I told her fine, but in fact I was in a panic. My wife and children were away. It was just me. I barely managed to crawl to my bed.

LEARY: It was the first bad trip 1, too. There was no precedent. You must have thought you’d poisoned yourself.

HOFFMAN: But in the end it was good. In the morning it was fantastic.


It Was Fantastic

Show 1 footnote

  1. That was nothing; there is NO worse bad trip than the fact Ivanka Trump is going on an “official” trip to Germany? To discuss what, one wonders. Merkel must be steaming…

Water Water Everywhere

Good time to be gutting the EPA, amirite?

On a predictably gorgeous South Florida afternoon, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason sat in his office overlooking the white-linen restaurants of this affluent seaside community and wondered when climate change would bring it all to an end. He figured it would involve a boat.

When Cason first started worrying about sea-level rise, he asked his staff to count not just how much coastline the city had (47 miles) or value of the property along that coast ($3.5 billion). He also told them to find out how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302). What matters, he guessed, will be the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far.

“These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason, who became mayor in 2011 after retiring from the U.S. foreign service. “When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.”

If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue.

And all of that could happen before the rising sea consumes a single home…

…Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock. Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply. The area’s drainage canals rely on gravity; as oceans rise, the water utility has had to install giant pumps to push water out to the ocean…

…Sean Becketti, the chief economist at Freddie Mac, warned in a report last year of a housing crisis for coastal areas more severe than the Great Recession, one that could spread through banks, insurers and other industries. And, unlike the recession, there’s no hope of a bounce back in property values…

…The National Flood Insurance Program is up for reauthorization this year; fiscal conservatives have said they want to use that opportunity to reduce the program’s subsidies, so that people are paying something closer to the full cost of their risk.
A cut in federal subsidies would particularly hurt Florida, which despite its exposure pays the lowest average flood-insurance premiums in the country, according to FEMA data.

Laura Reynolds is the former executive director of the Tropical Audubon Society, Miami’s oldest environmental group; she’s lived in her house in Cutler Bay, an hour’s drive south of Miami, for 13 years. She said she had once hoped to pass it on to her niece or nephew, but now plans to sell.

“The future of our coastline is completely doomed,” Reynolds said. “The question is, how long will we have?”

Much less time than you think…

Water Water Everywhere

Knee Jerk Reactions

Looks like that ol’ drug pusher (tobacco) Jeff Sessions has enlisted an ally in his efforts to assuage both big pharma and the liquor industry’s insecurities…

WASHINGTON – Two days after downplaying the role of marijuana in the nation’s drug war, Department of Homeland Security John Kelly changed course on Tuesday, calling it a “potentially dangerous gateway drug” and saying his agency would continue to arrest and investigate those who traded in it in violation of federal law.

“Let me be clear about marijuana: It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” he said in his first major speech since being sworn in. “Its use and possession is against federal law and until that law is changed by the United States Congress, we at DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books.”

Sooo…what? DHS now suddenly has police powers? Uh, methinks not. In fact the department is in legal hot water exactly because they’ve been masquerading as police. Moreover, none of what DHS is tasked with gives them any place in big pharma’s never ending, farcical “war on drugs.” 1

And that old canard about marijuana being a “gateway drug”? Bitch, please! You know what gateway drugs are? Pharmaceutical grade “diet” pills, mood elevators/inhibitors and, oh yeah, don’t forget hydrocodone and OxyContin – those ARE gateway drugs for, yep, you guessed it, heroin. 2

Marijuana advocates, who are watching closely to determine whether the Trump administration will deal a blow to state-level legalization efforts, decried the comments, saying Kelly was defying science in taking a hard line on pot. Eight states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana in some form and another 20 permit the sale of pot for medical purposes.

“DHS should stick to security and leave the science to the scientists,” Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Denver-based Marijuana Policy Project, told McClatchy. “This is a knee-jerk reaction among a certain generation of people that still think of marijuana as this vile, horrific substance and have yet to accept the fact that it is actually less harmful than alcohol.”

Indeed, but tiny Jeff Sessions 3 needs an ally since many in Congress are ready to admit the marijuana stupidity has gone too far.

It bears repeating over and over and over again that the ONLY reason marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug is because that black hearted asshole Nixon, along with his dolt of idiots of a staff, needed it for political reasons.

Knee Jerk Reactions

The difference between a policy and a crusade is that a policy is judged by its results, while a crusade is judged by how good it makes its crusaders feel.

— Thomas Sowell

Knee Jerk Reactions

It’s hard not to see Lilliputian Sessions’ efforts as a crusade when he refuses to let science stand in the way of incarceration by excluding the National Commission on Forensic Science 4:

“The reliance of law enforcement on questionable science and the overstatement of the reliability of that science has been a leading cause of the wrongful conviction of innocent people,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) president Barry Pollack on Monday. “The reason the National Commission on Forensic Science has been so important is that it includes leading independent scientists, allowing an unbiased expert evaluation of which techniques are scientifically valid and which are not. NACDL is terribly disappointed that even while acknowledging the crucial role played by the National Commission on Forensic Science, the Attorney General has chosen to disband it.”

Stone them, burn them at the stake, throw them in ponds and see if they float…

Knee Jerk Reactions

Meanwhile, just north of us, in a civilized country

Knee Jerk Reactions

Show 4 footnotes

  1. With the possible exceptions of the Coast Guard, in an interdiction mode, though more and more that’s a “coals to Newcastle” idiocy; why bother when you can legally buy weed in one of 8 states and drive it home?
  2. Though, frankly? Opioids, per se, aren’t the problem, Chris Christie’s irrelevancies aside: thorough education as to the dangers of drug mixing, yanking crusading pols out of the doctor-patient relationship and supporting the expansion of medication-assisted treatment, while permitting legal access to heroin and other drugs would save more lives than ANY drug prohibition.
  3. Sessions’ height is listed at 5′ 7″, exactly the same as Tom Cruise. However no one believes Cruise, since he’s given to wearing “lifts.” A more realistic figure is would be 5′ 5″ in both cases. What IS it with little men and their need to project authority, ludicrous though it may be?
  4. NCFS is funded specifically to enable independent scientists to investigate/counter forensic laboratory methods or other issues that might lead to false criminal convictions.

Nepotism

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— Offering a stunningly blunt appraisal of the North Korean leader, Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that Kim Jong-un was a “totally unqualified person” who attained his position of power only through nepotism.

“Here you have a guy who has no government experience, and he’s in charge of the whole thing,” Kushner said, in an interview with Fox News. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Kushner noted that, instead of working his way up and acquiring the skills necessary to do his job, the North Korean leader had been given huge responsibilities and power “only because of family connections.”

“There’s only one word for that,” he said. “Nepotism.”

Nepotism

Nuclear Apocalypse

Of course a Democrat prepared the nation for what a pompous ¡Pendejo! of a ReThug…er, I mean… OMP might do:

Among the greatest foreign-policy dilemmas faced by former President Jimmy Carter is one that has never been publicly aired but is gaining new relevance. It concerns nuclear war, and how the U.S. government would survive it. Carter’s decisions remain classified, but documents newly declassified by the CIA, along with the archives at several presidential libraries, provide a new window into the White House’s preparations for an imminent apocalypse.

Today, such an apocalypse could be triggered by any number of nuclear-armed states, including North Korea and Pakistan. During Carter’s presidency, such anxieties were focused squarely on the Soviet Union. It was during that period that military planners in both the Soviet Union and United States began to grapple with what until then had been an unthinkable heresy: abandoning the Mutually Assured Destruction catechism that had governed global order since the 1950s and preparing for surviving an all-out nuclear war.

Carter and his White House were interested in more specific questions. If the presidency could survive after a nuclear war, what exactly would it do afterward? How could the surviving commander in chief be identified? Who would identify him? How would he fulfill the three main functions of the presidency: to be the chief executive of the government, the head of state, and the commander in chief of its armed forces?

Carter’s answers came in the form of Presidential Directive 58, which was issued in the final months of his presidency; Ronald Reagan amended those plans with his own presidential directive in 1983. Their contents inform the continuity of government plans that remain in effect for the Trump administration. They have been the object of a multibillion-dollar pastiche of programs and a magnet for conspiracy theorists around the world.

The rest of the article is fascinating and certainly worth perusing, if only for the links to original source documents. 1

Nuclear Apocalypse

Show 1 footnote

  1. If you’re asking yourself “Why hasn’t this directive been declassified by now”?, shame on your blindness. No, it’s not because the Russians, Chinese and North Koreans would then know our plans (they already do), it’s because the residents in the area the government would be secreted under would mightily object; you might be obtuse, but it wouldn’t take them 3 seconds to figure out the Russians, Chinese and North Koreans would lock on to the underground bunker with their nukes, thereby guaranteeing the unprotected civilians above instant karma. A row would be raised…

A River Doesn’t Run Through It

An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.

The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 metres at its widest points, is the first observed case of “river piracy”, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.

For hundreds of years, the Slims carried meltwater northwards from the vast Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada’s Yukon territory into the Kluane river, then into the Yukon river towards the Bering Sea. But in spring 2016, a period of intense melting of the glacier meant the drainage gradient was tipped in favour of a second river, redirecting the meltwater to the Gulf of Alaska, thousands of miles from its original destination.

The continental-scale rearrangement was documented by a team of scientists who had been monitoring the incremental retreat of the glacier for years. But on a 2016 fieldwork expedition they were confronted with a landscape that had been radically transformed.

There will be screaming, wailing and the rending of the breasts when New York 2014 actualizes close to a century earlier 1 than its author anticipated.

Until then it will be business as usual.

A River Doesn't Run Through It

Show 1 footnote

  1. Especially if the Zachariae Isstrom glacier totally collapses, adding nearly two feet to sea levels. But, hey! No worries, amirite?