July rambling: Yecch, indeed

stale gum

cliff hang
Courtesy Patty Huang, Angry Art Director

The Boomers Ruined Everything.

Chief Justice Roberts OKs Minority Rule.

Complaints about Government Imposter Scams Reach Record High.

How To Game Google To Make Negative Results Disappear.

The Meritocracy Myth: Why “Success” is More Complicated Than You Think.

Burned out? You’re not alone. And the world is finally paying attention.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Warehouses, such as Amazon’s.

When PEPSI had a navy.

6 tips you need to know to help you spot fake news. All pretty obvious yet often ignored.

Hear, hear, Becca.

The musical Something Rotten national tour, Rob McClure’s town-by-town video diary.

Eugene Schieffelin and the European Starlings.

Necessity’s Child.

Now I Know: How Four Dollars Can Unlock American History and When Yellow Cars Became Protest Vehicles and Why It May Make Sense to Draw Eyes on Cows’ Butts and Badge Boys, Badge Boys, Whatchu Gonna Do?

DEPARTING

Twitter helps reveal deadly toll ocean plastic takes on sharks and rays.

They welcomed a robot into their family; now they’re mourning its death.

The New York Times cuts all political cartoons, and cartoonists are not happy. Nor am I.

MAD magazine: meanderings and Yecch, indeed and Maybe Alfred should finally worry.

Dustbury is winding down at work.

Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think.

It was a really bad month for the Internet.

djt

His nationalism has nothing to do with patriotism.

The military parade only furthers his vision of a dumbed-down America that may no longer be up to the task of global leadership.

Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with djt and wjc, explained.

UNABASHED PLUGS

Go to Catskill, NY’s adventurous Bridge Street Theatre and see Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen’s acclaimed Off-Broadway hit musical “The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World”. Based on the true story of three sisters from rural New Hampshire whose father forced them to form a rock band, and who recorded an album back in 1969 which has since become a cult classic. I saw it last Thursday and it is a revelatory experience. Yes, it features one of my nieces as one of the sisters.

“The Shaggs” will play for four more performances, Thursday through Saturday, July 18-20 ant 7:30 p,m. and Sunday, July 21 at 2 p.m. in BST’s intimate 84-seat Mainstage.

If you’re going to the New York State Fair August 21 – September 2, 2019 in Syracuse, NY, check out Sheila E. on Sunday, September 1 at 2 p.m. Backing vocals by Rebecca Jade, my first niece.

I’ve known Larry Shell since at least since 1981 when he put together the Alien Encounters package for FantaCo. He’s doing a GoFundMe campaign to get work on his house repaired before July 20. “Failure to comply could lead to heavy fines or even the condemnation of the home I’ve lived in for 44 years. The house is livable, it just needs a lot of fixing up,” which he can’t do himself because of health issues.

MUSIC

Manic Monday – Prince.

L.A. – Aubrey Logan (Live Studio Version with niece Rebecca Jade on backing vocals)

The theme from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon show – vocal quartet called Midtown.

Ur So Beautiful – Grace VanderWaal.
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Vox Maris by George Enescu.

Underground – Lindsey Stirling.

Sensemaya by Silvestre Revueltas.

Coverville 1268: The Jackie Wilson Cover Story.

The national anthem – Device Orchestra, played on seven credit card machines.

K-Chuck Radio: a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack.

You Don’t Own Me, A Feminist Anthem With Civil Rights Roots, Is All About Empathy.

Hello Out There, Hello! – Johnny Mercer w/ Billy May (1952) / Looney Tunes Cartoon 2019 A.D.

SCOTUS Census citizenship vote

It SHOULD have been 9-0

citizenship questionLast week, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to refuse to approve the citizenship question on the 2020 census. More accurately, SCOTUS referred the case back to a lower court. I’m glad for the outcome, but I thought the dissent was disingenuous.

“‘For the first time ever, the court invalidates an agency action solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale,’ said Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented separately.”

Adequate rationale? Well, no.

“On May 30, the plaintiffs [revealed that a] central portion of the Justice Department’s rationale for the question was apparently written by Thomas Hofeller, the GOP’s longtime gerrymandering mastermind. In a 2015 study, Hofeller wrote that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census would be ‘advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites’ and “a disadvantage to the Democrats.’

“He also explained how Republicans could justify inserting a citizenship question by claiming, falsely, that it would aid enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Multiple passages in Hofeller’s study appeared verbatim in the 2017 Justice Department letter that provided a legal rationale for the question’s addition.”

While the “Justice Department responded with indignant denial,” the nefarious conspiratorial linkage is quite clear, in far more detail than I can get into here. If the ruling had gone the other way, it could have dealt a grave blow to democracy.

Even those who voted correctly misrepresented the ‘pedigree’ of the citizenship question. “Never in the 230-year history of the census has the complete-count questionnaire (or its equivalent) asked for the citizenship status of everyone in the country.”

Several companies had filed a brief to the Supreme Court arguing that “The inaccuracy resulting from the Citizenship Question will harm businesses, because Census data can play a role in many decisions by large and small businesses alike.”

This is not to say the decennial Census process is now out of the woods. A report by the Urban Institute notes that “new ways of conducting the U.S. census… have not been thoroughly tested and could pose another risk to the count’s accuracy. These methods include allowing all households to complete an online form…

“The study found that new operational changes being implemented in 2020 like ‘internet self-response’… were ‘insufficiently tested in a decennial census environment’ and that “best evidence suggests they will disproportionately improve the count of those who are already easiest to count, leaving the hard-to-count population a lingering challenge.'”

The average person might think the Census folk only work on the Census in the immediate run up to the event, but not so. Particularly in the 60 months before the decennial, the Bureau is testing questions and methodologies.

“Uncertainty in funding in recent years” – blame Congress and the White House for that – “has led the Census Bureau to cancel field tests for the 2020 census, including test runs designed for rural and Spanish-speaking areas. This could still lead to the worst undercount of black and Latinx people in 30 years.

Of course, the folks at Census are aware that not everyone is online, and will offer alternatives, including mail, phone, and when necessary, in-person visits, though each of those attempts come as an added expense.

An inaccurate count affects redistricting for a decade and affect other data sources. It also guides community funding decisions. Learn more about Census data at the Census Academy.

If I tend to believe her over him, is that partisan?

judge shall actSure, Brett Kavanaugh would not be the Supreme Court justice I would prefer on policy. But I sincerely believe my current antipathy towards him stems from two issues:

1. I tend to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation regarding him. We still live in a legal system that fails to identify, prevent and redress the widespread sexual assault and mistreatment of women. “We must account for that failure in parsing these events and allegations. For decades, these systemic inequities have barred people from reporting assault and receiving justice.”

Blasey Ford’s well-documented records were generated long before Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Her compelling testimony of sexual assault reopened old wounds for other victims Her description of how memory works matches what I’ve experienced.

Prior to testifying, she received death threats. She wouldn’t put herself and her children in peril over a fabricated story about a sexual assault which would prevent only this particular conservative judge from being put on the Supreme Court.

The fact that some Democrats are surely “being political” about this does not negate her truth.

2. Brett Kavanaugh is a recognizable type. Greg Hatcher wrote Watching the Douchebro Death Spiral: I Was That Guy. Fillyjonk had an epiphany, as quoted by Dustbury: “Party culture”? Totally a thing.

Like his sponsor, Brett Kavanaugh seems to lie about almost everything, including stupid stuff, traceable stuff. Kavanaugh lied about getting into Yale only on merit. His grandfather was an alum..

Politifact fact-checked his Senate confirmation hearings and found him veracity lacking.

His 1982 calendar does NOT exonerate him, but rather, points to the fact that Brett is Mark Judge’s boozy friend Bart, a belligerent and aggressive drunk.

That woman on CNN who said, “Tell me what boy hasn’t done this in high school?” rather broke my heart. BTW, not me, for one. The passage of time doesn’t erase youthful mistakes in the criminal justice system, for most people of a different race or class.

I’m happy the Senate forced the extension of the FBI probe of Kavanaugh. If we’ve made any progress since the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas debacle, it as that the character assassination foisted upon Hill does not seem to be sticking as much to Blasey Ford. Meager progress in 27 years, but it’s something.
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Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Testifies Against Brett Kavanaugh | The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Nah, I don’t believe his response to the Blood Alcohol Chart question either.

NY Times opinion piece: An Injudicious Man, Unfit for the Supreme Court. “This was a job interview, not a criminal trial. Kavanaugh, in his fury and pathos, failed the test.”

Earl Warren versus “people are corporations”

A leader of the Republican Party for more than a decade, Roscoe Conkling had even been nominated to the Supreme Court twice. He begged off both times, the second time after the Senate had confirmed him.

Earl WarrenSometime in 1973 or early 1974, I was in a class at the SUNY College of New Paltz. It was my only course, 15 credits, in political science, and, oddly, I don’t remember much about it except save for the fact that it was conducted by the late Ron Steinberg.

Except for one thing: we all got to meet retired US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in his office in Washington, DC. And not a meet-and-greet but him talking with us for at least a half hour, and then the dozen or so of us able to ask him questions.

Earl Warren is the guy whose court made many monumental decisions between 1953 and 1969 when he retired.
They included:
*attempting to end segregation policies in public schools (Brown v. Board of Education)
*ending anti-miscegenation laws (Loving v. Virginia)
*ruling that the Constitution protects a general right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut)
*protecting the rights of the accused (Miranda v. Arizona)
*providing lawyers to the indigent (Gideon v. Wainwright)
*codifying one person, one vote redistricting (Baker v. Carr)
*freedom of the press (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan)

The question I had must have been stated ineloquently because he didn’t know what I was getting at. I was probably nervous. Finally, I asked him about the precedent of the Court considering corporation as people back in the late 19th century. He said that the Court got it wrong back then.

Earl Warren, who died in July 1974, would have appreciated this article, “‘Corporations Are People’ Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie: How a farcical series of events in the 1880s produced an enduring and controversial legal precedent.” It involved the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, “owned by the robber baron Leland Stanford,” and the corporation’s lawyer, Roscoe Conkling.

Former President Harry S. Truman applauded the newly-retired Warren in this January 1970 California Law Review article. To the point of my question, Truman wrote:

“I would suggest that it is at least symptomatic of a conservative in today’s society that [Warren] is deeply concerned with the faceless, seemingly randomly and capriciously directed activities of the gigantic institutions which influence the direction of modem life. Under this definition, a conservative is one who worries that the balance of power in this nation has shifted in favor of oversized corporations, government agencies, labor unions, universities, foundations, and institutionalized groups which draw together shifting combinations of some or all of these.”

Happy Constitution Day.

SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas turns 70

Among the many dreadful aspects of Clarence Thomas becoming a member of the US Supreme Court is that he succeeded Thurgood Marshall. Marshall founded and served as executive director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, arguing several cases before SCOTUS, including the landmark “Brown v. Board of Education, which held that racial segregation in public education is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”

Thomas, on the other hand, served as chair of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and “halted the usual EEOC approach of filing class-action discrimination lawsuits, instead pursuing acts of individual discrimination,” which are much more difficult to prove. He had little judicial background when George H. W. Bush nominated him to the high court.

The confirmation hearings were reopened after “an FBI interview with lawyer Anita Hill was leaked… Hill, a black attorney, had worked for Thomas… She testified that Thomas had subjected her to comments of a sexual nature, which she felt constituted sexual harassment or at least ‘behavior that is unbefitting an individual who will be a member of the Court.'”

Thomas denied Hill’s allegations, and famously said: “From my standpoint, as a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves… and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.”

In the #MeToo era, The Boston Globe asked in 2018, Why is Clarence Thomas still on the Supreme Court? New York magazine suggests impeachment.

And the grounds wouldn’t just be over sexual harassment. Back in 2011, we learn that Thomas doesn’t just do unethical favors for wealthy right-wing donors — they also do expensive favors for him. Both he and his late colleague Antonin Scalia probably should have recused themselves in the toxic Citizens United case.

And this from 2013: “Common Cause uncovered that Virginia Thomas earned over $680,000 from the conservative think tank, Heritage Foundation, from 2003 to 2007. Justice Thomas failed to include it on his financial disclosure forms… Once he was caught, Thomas amended 13 years’ worth of disclosure reports to include details of his wife’s income.”

A couple yeas ago, an article from Oyez painted a picture of the justice: “Clarence Thomas is known for his quiet, stoic demeanor during oral arguments and his conservative viewpoint that challenges, if not surpasses, even Scalia’s originalism.

“While many justices use questions to show their opinion on an issue or communicate with the other justices as to their feelings on a case, Thomas remains silent… He has shown his opinions to lean farther right than any other justice on the bench today.”

Birthday is June 23