Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tillis appointment to European commission affirms his view that human rights is something we fret over when foreigners don't get them, but cheerfully go along with stripping Americans of daily.

Conservatives have despised the 1975 Helsinki Accords for decades. When it was being negotiated, one source reports,
Throughout much of the negotiations, U.S. leaders were disengaged and uninterested with the process. In an August 1974 conversation between President Ford and his National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Dr. Kissinger commented on the CSCE that "we never wanted it but we went along with the Europeans ... [i]t is meaningless—it is just a grandstand play to the left. We are going along with it.
Now of them, from North Carolina, Senator Thom Tillis, has been named a United States Commissioner to the Helsinki Commission by Vice President Mike Pence.

Tillis' office says,
Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced he has been selected as a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission.

The Helsinki Commission, an independent government agency that is comprised of members of Congress and Administration officials, has a mandate to monitor the acts of the 56 other signatories of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This includes the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms like the freedom of thought, religion and the press. The Commission also focuses on economic, humanitarian, and security cooperation between the United States and other signatories.

The Helsinki Commission will hold its first hearing of the 115th Congress tomorrow at 9:30am, which will focus on democracy and human rights abuses in Russia. 
“It’s an honor to serve on the Helsinki Commission, an important component to strengthening America’s cooperation with Europe and promoting international peace and stability,” said Senator Tillis. “Throughout its history, the Helsinki Commission has been a valuable platform that has shined light on human rights violations, human trafficking, and terrorist threats. Moving forward, I look forward to working with other commissioners to focus on a number of critical issues, starting with Russia’s slide back to authoritarianism and its increasing hostility against its neighbors.”

Tillis is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Personnel.

During his tenure in the Senate, Tillis has worked to expand America’s role in combatting human rights violations across the globe. In 2016, Tillis joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) to introduce the bipartisan Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act. Co-sponsored by 13 other Senators, this bipartisan legislation aims to ensure that the U.S. government works in a coordinated manner using its full range of tools, including diplomatic, political, financial, and intelligence capabilities, to provide early warnings about at-risk communities and states in order to help prevent mass atrocities against civilians.
Tillis owes his Senate election in 2014 to NRA money and antigay prejudice- as Speaker of the NC House, he led the campaign to make North Carolina the last state to ban marriage equality in its constitution even as he told an audience it would be overturned in twenty years (it took less than two).

Once in the Senate, he washed his hands of his dirty work (even as he denounced as overreach federal law requiring restaurant workers to wash theirs after using the restroom).

He will find his self-praised passion for human rights stretched by the Commission's work for gender equality and LGBT rights. While he has recently condemned the ongoing extrajudicial imprisonment, torture, and execution of gay men in Chechnya-

- Tillis is a devoted fanboy for all of President* Trump's sweeping anti-LGBT initiatives. Like ostentatiously devout churchgoers who always give to overseas missions but scorn their poor neighbors as layabouts and grifters, Tillis finds it easy to condemn things happening where he has no influence compared to taking action at home, where he does.

The Commission has a long record of LGBT advocacy. It will be interesting to see how much, or little, lip service he pays.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Coots, as in crazy old, and the Cartesian enigmas of being a St Andrews alumnus.

Once the Facebook page for my class at St. Andrews University was called '78 Coots.

Coots are not ducks but they play ducks on Lake Ansley C. Moore at St. Andrews. They are Yankee birds who migrate south for the winter. They just show up one ay and paddle about, largely silent, until spring burgeons. Then one day they are gone. You never see them on land, or flying. We used to think they hitchhiked over from an abandoned chicken house in Gibson, 8.4 miles away via X-Way Road:

Then I got a notice that the Facebook page had become '77 Coots. I began wondering if my class had been abolished, or I'd been dropped from the lists for not giving them any money since I became a mendicant book dealer.

'77 Coots became the locus for news of the cohort graduating the year before me and their coming 40th reunion.

They had their big booyah this past weekend, and now I have gotten this notice:

It seems "Coots" is now a generic brand, like Consumer Cellular in AARP TV ads, and next year- after my class has its 40th- "'79 Coots" will be slotted in.

Adding to my confusion was the discovery, after I got the last alumni magazine, that in the obit I wrote for my mother, I had migrated backwards a year in time to become a 1977 St. Android.

Now I am not sure if 2018 is really my year or not. I feel like Bobby Ewing in the Dream Season of Dallas: was I really there at all? Was I really alumni president in 1997? My parents said they were coming and then no-showed. Did it actually happen? Is the framed Fortner Award on my wall real? After all, I got it in the mail. It coulda been ginned up at the UPS Store in Port Angeles and dropped on my doorstep.

But, wait, as Ron Popeil used to shout on late night TV. There's more!

Over the last few years, I have viewed hundreds, if not over a thousand, social media scans of photos from my years at St. Andrews, all featuring people I considered friends.

I've never seen myself in a one, not even those taken at events I remember attending (or was I there at all? Is this my dull, dull version of Total Recall?).

I don't see in those photos the odd gaps characteristic of Soviet-era airbrushing, though younger friends tell me it's way, way easier to moosh things around convincingly in old snaps, dude.

Old snaps? Oh, snap!

So I am filled with angst over whether to attend next year's clambake. What if I get there and they say I am a year late? Or not in their records at all? What proof have I that I, in fact, am a '78 Coot?

Uh, none, I'll have to mumble. All my yearbooks (where there were some photos in which I lurked), and my diploma were among the record of my life my family threw away.

Maybe best to just keep the status quo. Just keep occupying my vague niche in between 1977 and 1978, like the half-floor office in Being John Malkovich. Hope no one notices, end up dumped in highway medians at night from time to time.

Berlin: where worlds collide

Mrs Kushner has her first Jim Stockdale moment:

Ivanka Trump gets booed, hissed at during Berlin event

...But on her first trip abroad as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father's attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.

“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” said the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”

It was an aggressive opening line of questioning for the first daughter, who was seated next to Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and one seat down from Merkel. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands was also a participant on the W20 Summit panel, which Ivanka Trump attended at Merkel's invitation.

“Certainly not the latter,” Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well. ... It has been a little under 100 days, and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”

She did not define what her new role as a senior White House official entailed but said she cares "very much about empowering women in the workplace" and defined her goal as enacting “incremental positive change. That is my goal. This is very early for me; I’m listening, learning.”

Mrs Kushner may not know what she is doing, but she knows taxpayers owe her a staff, and someone to run it.

In the #AltFacts world, such stories are billed "Exclusives" becaude Breitbart editors and readers are the only ones who see and believe the spin:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Everyone knows smiley-face cultures irk the hell out of the Scots. It's a DNA thing.

It doesn't take her [Bill, the Doctor's sidekick] long to follow his path, nonchalantly asking him why he has a Scottish accent.  
"I'm not Scottish, I'm angry," the Doctor says, before he topically japes that people from Scotland are "all over the place, demanding independence on every planet they land on."

The answer is 134.

From the website

2 Ways to Overcome Fear of Failure

3 Steps to Go From Idea to Entrepreneur

4 Tips for Working with People Who Couldn’t Care Less about Their Job

Michelle Phan’s 5 Tips for Success

A Good Life Contains These 6 Essentials

7 Superfoods You Need for a Longer, Healthier Life

Top of Mind: 8 Mistakes Young Professionals Make

9 Battle-Tested Tips to Turn Stress Into Success

10 Things Successful People Never Do Again

13 Life Rules to Keep You Motivated

17 Things Every Strong Relationship Has in Common

50 Ways Happier, Healthier and More Successful People Live on Their Own Terms

When worlds collide: gays in space, or how to deal with zero-g glitter bombs

Tina Nguyen in Vanity Fair, May 27, 2016:
Perhaps he thought no one would pay attention to his floor speech—it was only days before the Congress would go on their Memorial Day vacations—but Republican congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas decided to give a dire warning about the perils of gay people in space. 
In the middle of a Thursday speech on the House floor, Gohmert, who once proclaimed that gay-rights activists were like Nazis, suddenly started talking about the film The Martian, in which Matt Damon’s astronaut character gets stranded on Mars and is forced to survive there for nearly two years. 
Posing a hypothetical doomsday situation, with, say, “an asteroid coming, something that would end humanity on Earth, as dinosaurs were ended at one time. O.K., we’ve got a spaceship that can go, as Matt Damon did in the movie, plant a colony somewhere. We can have humans survive this terrible disaster about to befall. If you could decide what 40 people you put on the spacecraft that would save humanity, how many of those would be same-sex couples?” (The implication, of course, being that they would not want to have children.) 
Saying that such a situation would make the government “a modern-day Noah,” Gohmert appealed to Congress’s collective reason: “How many same-sex couples would you take from the animal kingdom and from humans to put on a spacecraft to perpetuate humanity and the wildlife kingdom?”
Author Steven Merritt, interviewed in The Los Angeles Review of Books:
I’d like to hear more about [scifi author Ursula K.] Le Guin. 
First of all, her father was an ethnographer. And she is definitely her father’s daughter, in that she is a brilliant ethnographer, who happens to have chosen, often, science fiction as her medium — but even in her nonfiction books, she is an expert … Ethnography is her major focus. In writing about imaginary groups of people, she is a science fiction ethnographer. 
I loved The Dispossessed as a kid, though The Left Hand of Darkness was considered the best of her novels. 
I am about to read The Word for World Is Forest. The idea of space travel privileging homosexuality really struck me as a child. Perfectly practical and nifty idea. Why shouldn’t there be something that gay people are more suited for? 
That is interesting. 
Reproduction in space travel is a really bad idea. So gay people are the way to go.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Another billionaire celebrity in the Trump cabinet: oil heiress Daisy Moses (Granny) Clampett

She put the trans in "transition team."

"Ivanka reminded me how you endorsed Little Marco and Lyin' Ted before me."

No one's gonna ever kick cheap paperbacks in MY face again!

Recently I had the experience of appearing online with a Very Prominent Individual who told me, of our time working together, "sometimes you wax esoteric", I "may lose people sometimes" being a "pseudo-intellectual" and that my written notes of a conference call discussion were "fairly accurate, mostly."

So I ran off immediately to to cure my deficiencies:

5 Brainy Books to Read If You Want to Be a Badass

"Bicentennial Man" has come true.


A Software Agent Without Human Control that Produces, Owns & Sells its Own Art.

If 1 is the loneliest number, what's the most interesting one?

Nelson Yanofsky has the answers*. Well, some.

Mostly questions.


*Don't rule out 1729.

Roy Cooper's Snapchat judge: appointed Monday, out of office by Friday

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has tossed a bone to the state's LGBT community today, and it's about as bogus as his tortured explanations of how his cave-in on HB2 was last month.

Cooper has appointed a former superior court judge and Charlotte lawyer, John Arrowood, to the NC Court of Appeals. Arrowood becomes the first LGBT appellate judge in the state's history for the second time.

Arrowood was appointed to the Court in 2007- to fill a vacancy- and lost the seat in the 2008 elections in November. He ran for the court again in 2014 and lost.

Arrowood replaces a Republican, Douglas McCullough, who was required to leave office upon turning 72 in May. McCullough served from 2001 to 2008, then lost his re-election bid after a DWI stop. Elected to a different seat in 2010, his term ends in 2018 but a state age limit requires him to leave office.

That age limit has given Raleigh Republicans a handy pretext for denying Governor Cooper three coming appointments to replace judges on the fifteen-member court. US News & World Report's story explains,
The Republican-backed measure would phase out the three judgeships as vacancies arise through retirements or resignations, and it would allow more matters be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court. 
The appeals judges are elected to serve eight-year terms, but they must retire at age 72. Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough is a registered Republican who's set to retire in May. Without the new measure Cooper would have been able to choose his replacement.
HB 239 provides that the seat Cooper appointed Arrowood to will cease to exist:
On or after January 1, 2017, whenever the seat of an incumbent judge becomes vacant prior to the expiration of the judge's term due to the death, resignation, retirement, impeachment, or removal pursuant to G.S. 7A-374.2(8) of the incumbent judge, that seat is abolished until the total number of Court of Appeals seats is decreased to 12.
The bill passed the state senate April 11, and Governor Cooper vetoed it on April 20.

House Speaker Tim Moore has placed the veto on the calendar for an override vote Wednesday. With supermajorities in both houses, the veto will not stand, and the abolition of Judge Arrowood's seat will occur automatically after the Senate concurs in the override.

Hopeless appointments are useful ways to score political points at little or no cost. In 1995, Washington Governor Mike Lowry appointed that state's first openly LGBT judge to the Superior Court when the incumbent retired before the election but after the primary. Tim Bradbury took office October 10 and was defeated in a multi-candidate race 28 days later (he lost to a chronic right-wing candidate, Jeannette Burrage, who was rated unqualified by everyone in sight. Burrage lost her second term bid after threatening to fine women lawyers who appeared in her court wearing pants suits; last year she was acquitted of slapping an autistic grade schooler on her Seatac, Washington school bus route).

For most pols, a gaffe is when they accidentally say what they really believe. With Jeff Sessions, it's when he says he was joking.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III kicked off his gig by arguing that US taxpayers need to pony up for The Great Wall because most of the illegal immigration problem has already gone away without one:

SESSIONS: I can't imagine the Democrats would shut down the government over an objection to building a down payment on a wall that can end the lawlessness. We've already received, George, a 60 percent or so reduction. March was the lowest illegal immigration month in 17 years.

But our goal is not to reduce it 50 percent, 60 percent, 70 percent, but to end illegality, create a lawful system of immigration where people apply to come here, they wait their turn, a system that we can be proud of as Americans.

And, like Baldrick in the Blackadder series, Granny has a cunning plan:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You sound quite confident right there.

Do you have any evidence that Mexico is going to pay for it?

SESSIONS: Well, we're going to get paid for it one way or the other. I know there's $4 billion a year in excess payments, according to the Department of the Treasury's own inspector general several years ago that are going to payments to people -- tax credits that they shouldn't get.

Now, these are mostly Mexicans.

And those kind of things add up -- $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion. There are a lot of ways we can find money to help pay for this. But in the long run...

STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to...

SESSIONS: -- they've lost those...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- account for that money?

SESSIONS: What's that?

STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to account for...

SESSIONS: Well, we just...

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- that money?

SESSIONS: The Department of Treasury, several years ago, under the Obama administration, said that if you change the regulations and enforced it properly, you would save up to $4 billion a year.

There are other things that we can do at the border to create revenue that would pay for the wall. There's no doubt about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But in your discussions with your counterparts in Mexico, they have given no indication at all that the Mexican government is prepared to pay a single cent for this wall (INAUDIBLE)?

SESSIONS: Well, I don't expect the Mexican government to appropriate money for it. But there are ways that we can deal with our trade situation to create the revenue for it. No doubt about it.

But Sessions had his best material in reserve:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the travel ban. You're taking some heat for comments you've made on the Mark Levin show this week. I want to play them for our audience.


SESSIONS: I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.


STEPHANOPOULOS; Of course, that island in the Pacific is the state of Hawaii. You've been blasted by Hawaii's senators, one called it dog whistle politics. Your response?

SESSIONS: Look, they filed a suit, the plaintiffs get to chose the venue. They filed a lawsuit in Hawaii. And the first decision on the new executive order came out of Hawaii. And all I was saying was the president...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not just call it the state of Hawaii?

SESSIONS: The president -- nobody has a sense of humor anymore.

Sessions is a longtime regular on the White Sheet Comedy Circuit, as CNN has reported:

As the US attorney in Mobile, Alabama, Jeff Sessions was talking over a case one day in the 1980s with two fellow prosecutors.

It had to do with a young black man who had been kidnapped and brutally murdered by two members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klansmen, Henry Hayes and Tiger Knowles, slit the victim's throat and hung his body from a tree.

They carried out the attack in retribution for a jury acquitting a black man in the slaying of a white police officer.

As Sessions learned that some members of the Klan had smoked marijuana on the evening of the slaying, he said aloud that he thought the KKK was: "OK until I found out they smoked pot."

Sessions insists he was joking.

Sessions jokes ‘bout all kinda things, as The Washington Post found:

“You know the NAACP hates white people; they are out to get them. That is why they bring these lawsuits, and they are a commie group and a pinko organization as well.”

Sessions said:

“I do not recall saying anything like that. I will admit that I am pretty — in my office, in talking to people that I am associated with, I am loose with my tongue on occasion, and I may have said something similar to that or could be interpreted to that. I do not believe I have ever specifically — it would be inconceivable that I ever specifically referred to the NAACP as an un-American or commie organization, even kidding. I mean, I may have referred to my church, the Methodist Church, as probably a bunch of pinkos, maybe. But that is an awful thing to say, and it is not true.”

One striking thing- jokes aside- is Granny’s comment about plaintiffs getting to pick where they file lawsuits. Sessions is busily dismissing LGBT rights litigation right and left where it was brought by the Obama administration, and he has been a big fanboy of GOP state attorneys general’s massive, years-long litigation campaign against all sorts of civil rights issues- where Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton discovered there is only one federal judge in Wichita Falls- a hard-right Bush 2 appointee- who will give a nationwide injunction against anything Paxton and his compadres want. It turns out to be way easier to make a deputy drive 185 miles north than to walk down the street to the federal courthouse in Austin: they have a bunch of judges there, but that’s the trouble. Paxton’s vendettas might get assigned, randomly, to one who actually thinks for him or herself.

Sessions is, also, nothing if not a mentor to up-and-coming government comedians:

On Friday, the justice department attempted to clarify Sessions’ remarks, saying in a statement: “Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific.”

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Here's your link to watch Day 3 of the Book Fair!

Last Day of the Florida Book Fair!

Tech Geek Proust's madeleines

Technology makes all kinds of interesting but unnecessary appliance features possible.

Take my clothes dryer. Please.

It has a beeper that sounds in the same tone, but different numbers of meep-meeps, when different functions have run their course and the nano-nannies of Silicon Valley are convinced I want to drop what I am doing and go answer the demands of the Big Matte-Black Box.

Today the meep-meep sensor has gone wonky. It beeps steadily, and unceasingly, through the entire drying cycle.

The effect is like I imagine it would be getting pursued by a box truck backing up all the way from Charlotte to Los Angeles.

Such devices are a particularly well-developed earworm of mine. See, in the 1990s I had to become an expert in the things.

I was doing a lot of customs and trade law. The US Customs Service- the main source of government revenue until the income tax in 1913 and the only government agency that turns a profit- has one rule: if you can classify an imported anything in one of two ways, pick the one with the higher tariff rate.

My client made meep-meeps. Customs said they were horns. We said they were annunciators.

The case was a liberal arts major's Walter Mitty daydream. I pulled down my OED and started a brief tying the technology of horns and annunciators to their history of usage in English.

A horn can emit differently-pitched sounds at different volumes. An annunciator can only do one tone, at one volume, forever. Electronic fox, meet alternating current hedgehog.

"Pish-tosh," said my boss, The Customs Expert. "Flummery. Argle-bargle."

I argued the Harmonized Tariff Schedules were nothing if not a huge Dictionary of Trade. What duty gets charged depends on how a thing is defined.

"Oh, all right," Customs sighed. "It's an annunciator."

Mind you, Customs isn't always so amenable. They will go to their day of Deconstruction of the Administrative State insisting that rare autos are not duy-free as collectibles or antiques. No, your 1938 Talbot-Lago Teardrop is a used car, and you get to pay $200,000 in duties on that multimillion-dollar addition to your not-collection, Jay Leno.

More from These Boots Were Made For Fact-Checkin'

Your nominations?

Marching for Science: the Sheldon Cooper Fan Club

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Media whores- one old, one new-ish, spar over prime corner at Ratings Road and C-List Avenue

Breitbart' Sunday prayers: "Please God, let Little Tucker use the man-granny to advance the purposes of your anointed, Donald, get great numbers, and find a way to make 'hate the sins, love the sinners' seem sincere. Amen."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Here's your link to today's opening fun!

Meet the star of this weekend's Florida Antiquarian Book Fair-

Never mind that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT Americans. Some Oregon folks' animus runs so deep they will go ask government for more handouts rather than take cash from The Gays.

From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
Hearts With A Mission, which operates the only youth shelter in Josephine County, stands by its decision to turn down a donation of nearly $3,000 raised during a charity concert in Grants Pass by the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. 
The Grants Pass Hearts With A Mission Youth Shelter receives $50,000 from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety annually and was recently approved for $26,000 more in funds from the city. 
In a letter to the Grants Pass City Council, and in comments to the Daily Courier, officials from the faith-based group that runs the shelter said the decision to turn down the money was made with thoughts to the safety of the at-risk youths the shelter serves, not to discriminate against the gay men’s group.
Hearts With A Mission enjoys corporate and foundation support from most of Oregon's philanthropic leaders. Why not write them and ask if they support the Shelter That Welcomes All Except Those They Don't?

The President hands us the perfect riposte to his trolls

President Donald Trump’s lawyers argued in a Thursday court filing that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies because such protests infringed on his First Amendment rights. 
The filing comes in a case brought by three protesters who allege they were roughed up and ejected from a March 2016 Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, by Trump supporters who were incited by the then-candidate’s calls from the stage to “get 'em out of here!”
The novel arguments are presented in this brief. 

The President as Role Model for evangelicals.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Today at "Our founder keeled over dead at 43"

Breitbart News says the death panel is ready to name names:

Report: GOP Differences on Healthcare ‘Have Narrowed,’ Healthcare Reform ‘Very Much Alive’

The book fair that's everywhere, April 21-23!

Secretary Genius Glasses says, "Government picking winners and losers is bad when we aren't the government. DOE was bad before I remembered not to abolish it and make it good."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Book Fair Live IT team is doing last-minute tests of our crack live remote broadcast unit for co-host Lindsay Thompson-

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair runs April 21-23 in St Petersburg. Live broadcast schedules and other info at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair Facebook page.