Tuesday, February 21, 2017

More voting shnanigans

And, no surprise, the perp is another Trumpeter. There are more illegal voters in the Trump White House than among all the illegal immigrants in the country.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Whip Obamacare now!

The weeks since inauguration day are the longest period that Congress has failed to vote to repeal Obamacare.

Just sayin'.

The Times reports:

As liberals overwhelm congressional town hall-style meetings and deluge the Capitol phone system with pleas to protect the health law, there is no similar clamor for dismantling it, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment. From deeply conservative districts in the South and the West to the more moderate parts of the Northeast, Republicans in Congress say there is significantly less intensity among opponents of the law than when Mr. Obama was in office.
“I hear more concerns than before about ‘You’re going to repeal it, and we’re all going to lose insurance’ because they don’t think we’re going to replace it,” said Representative Mike Simpson, a Republican who represents a conservative district in Idaho.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review 382: The House of Mondavi

THE HOUSE OF MONDAVI: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, by Julia Flynn Siler. 452 pages, illustrated. Gotham, $28

Despite being written in broken English, the outlines of the story are moderately interesting:

Young immigrants, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, scrap around and end up in Lodi, California, dealing in fruit. Prohibition presents opportunity, since each household was permitted to make 200 gallons of wine a year.

The Mondavis do well shipping grapes East, and in 1943, they buy a formerly well known but decrepit winery, Charles Krug, in Napa Valley for $75,000.

It was the parents’ desire that their sons (but not their daughters) establish a wine business that would endure through generations.

The sons were superficially well-matched, Michael the impulsive salesman, committed to teaching Americans to drink good wine; Peter, the quiet tinkerer devoted to making better and better wine. In the event, though, they could not work in tandem and in the mid-‘60s Peter tried to squeeze Robert out of his inheritance. He failed, or did he?

Robert started the Robert Mondavi Winery, where he was credited with leading the revolution in America’s taste for boozing. And he had sons who seemed well suited to carrying on but were as antagonistic as their father and uncle.

For Julia Siler, this is strictly a family quarrel story and the rise of the Robert Mondavi Winery to become nearly a billion-dollar business is mostly an irritation. There isn’t a graph in the book, and statistics on production, income, sales volume, employment and acres controlled are scarce and scattered haphazardly throughout the chapters. There are precisely two uninformative sentences on labor, although the expansion of Mondavi coincided with the farm workers movement. We learn (in an endnote) that Krug, which remained under the control of Peter and his family, was unionized, which implies that Mondavi was not, but Siler never says.

Even after Robert Mondavi Corp. went public in 1994 and information becomes more easily available, Siler barely uses it. She is not indifferent to facts; she just has no idea about which are significant. We learn the street addresses of several law firms that advised various Mondavis, for example, and what fabrics Mondavian brides wore.

Within 10 years of tapping Wall Street’s keg of dollars, Robert and his family are out, their departure not sweetened by douceurs of  $60 million and up each, since the hopes of Rosa and Cesare are thwarted — except over at  Krug where Peter and his family have kept the family interest intact. But Siler has little interest in that side of the family.

“The House of Mondavi” is so badly organized and badly written that it is not worth anyone’s time.

Tactical blunder

I don't know who scheduled the time and place of the hoopla meeting for the development of the Maui High site at Hamakuapoko, but by making it at 4:30 at Paia Community Centee, he guaranteed that everyone coming from Kahului hit the Paia traffic jam.

From 2:30 on, the slowdown starts at Nonohe Place, or sometimes Kaunoa and I have even seen it start at Stable Road. Traveling west. I may be malihini but I am not damfool enough to drive east toward Paia in the afternoon.

That was a PR mistake but Mayor Arakawa's statement a couple days later was bizarre. He criticized the County Council for wanting to buy land at Peahi because it would cost $20 million to bring eletricity and water to a public park there.

First, parks don't need electricity or water. Oheo is one of the most popular parks in Hawaii and it has neither.

Second, and more important, if Hamakuapoko is developed, it will require an equal or grater amount to bring in water and electricity, but his administration is pushing that boondoogle.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shotguns n Roses

I said I wasn't going to keep making fun of the gun nuts but this is too good to pass up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Afternoon thé dansant of the Long Knives

RtO predicted a Night of the Long Knives, and soon, for the Trumpeters. And, lo! it occurs.

Only, typically for a Trump operation, it is tackier and sillier than the model, more of an Afternoon thé dansant of the Long Knives.

Don't thank me. RtO is in the business of stating the obvious, and nothing could be more obvious than this was. It goes with the concept of fuhrerprinzip: when all power resides in one man, the only way to get close to power is to knife whoever stands between you and the Dear Leader.

Thus, Priebus is also showing signs of a shiv in the ribs. And several others.

This situation also explains the ascendancy of the Kushners. A despot cannot trust anyone but family, although, as Trump will learn soon enough, not even them.

I am enjoying this immensely.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Buchi Emecheta has died

The Times reports that Buchi Emecheta has died.  She was, in my opinion, one of the finest writers of fiction in English of our time, both for style and story.

But I mention her career for the tenacity she displayed. The Times reports some of that but omits how she did it.

After leaving her husband, she set out to raise 5 children alone working menial jobs. She would arise at 4 a.m. to write each day, and kept this up for a long time.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Maui makes A

Or perhaps the US Tennis Association did it, on Maui. Either way, bad publicity.

About 40 years ago, I covered the first professional ice hockey game in Norfolk, Virginia, and the stadium played a recording of "God aSve the Queen." The players, who were mostly Canadians, almost fell off their skates laughing.

(For non-Hawaii readers, "no make A" is pidgen for "don't make a fool of yourself.")

The not-so-grand inquisitor

Worth reading, from the ACLU blog.

The agent pressed. Did my meetings and talks abroad focus on US law or the law of other countries? Not understanding what any of this had to do with my ability to return home, I found myself explaining that in addition to the Constitution, the United States is bound by international treaties. I explained that there are fundamental human rights that belong to everyone and apply in all countries in the world, including the United States and that my work covers both.
For obvious reasons, there is no transcript but I can readily imagine the words: I remember McCarthyism.

Was the agent reading from a script?  Who provided that?


Twice now, I have listened to interviews in which the people being rounded up by ICE were described as "good citizens." No doubt there will be instances of this, if there have not been already, but in both interviews the speaker was referring to illegal immigrants.

Maybe they are good workers, good residents, maybe they would like to become citizens and might make good ones, but they are not citizens.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The ruination of Judge Gorsuch

When Senator McConnell announced the Republican conspiracy against Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution, my mind leapt forward to wonder what would happen if they got what they wanted: a Republican president. Would he be able to find a lawyer of high skills with so little self-respect, regard for the Constitution and concern for the independence and integrity of the judiciary that he would accept an appointment?


What we don't know is whether there are any rightwing legists who have sufficient integrity to refuse to participate as beneficiaries of the Senate Republicans' corrupt bargain.

Probably not. I have not seen any commentary that even recognizes the problem.

When Trump introduced Gorsuch as his nominee, he spun out a long list of legal accomplishments. Whether he was accurate is, with Trump, always a question, but we need not inquire. It is certain that an equally impressive list could have been (and was) attached to the CV of Judge Garland.

Let us state the obvious, since it seems to be beyond the comprehension of rightwingers. Article 2 Section 2 does not read, "some future president shall, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint justices to the Supreme Court."

My business law professor used to begin each lecture by reminding us that we were treating the idea of being in business as a going concern.

The Constitution does not explicitly say that the government is a going concern, but  it has to be. In Gorsuch's acceptance statement, he went out of his way to say that he considers the United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world.  It would be interesting to hear his response to the question: How would you rate the deliberations on the appointment of Judge Garland?

 The willingness of Judge Gorsuch to participate in a corrupt bargain reminds us that it has not always been the case that all rightwing lawyers have been so pliant. Eliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus were not, although the darling of the rightwing jurists, Robert Bork, was.
water boy

Although it does not have anything to do with Gorsuch's personal unfitness for office, it is worth also noting what the executive thinks makes him deserving of a job as associate justice. When Vice President Pence was asked, he said -- three times in less than 90 seconds -- that Gorsuch is a fourth-generation Coloradan.

Let us state the obvious: where your great-grandparents lived is not a qualification for a judgeship, or any other job.  Yet Pence really, really, really wants us to know that, more than any actual qualification Gorsuch might have.

We must become kremlinologists to try to understand why the administration makes so much of that idea.

Recall that  Pence was governor of Indiana and that Trump began his sustained assault on the integrity and independence of the federal judiciary by attacking a judge who was a first generation native of Indiana. Often, a governor would defend the reputation of a distinguished judge who is a native of his state, but Pence declined to do so.

What message was Pence signaling to rightwingers by singling out Gorsuch's ancestry? Obviously, he was telling  his base that Gorsuch is white and Protestant.

Gorsuch cannot help that, but he didn't have to throw away his reputation. Untested for most of a lifetime, circumstances finally revealed him as a man of low character.

Friday, February 3, 2017


There have been numerous calls to action in the past few days, of which perhaps the most temperate was by Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic.

I suppose that RtO's labeling of Trump as a Nazi was another such. It was a deliberate thought though likely to be misinterpreted. Not Many Americans have studied the politics of  the last years of Weimar, or the last years of the Italian republic in depth.

So, does Trump govern like the Nazis? The short answer is ja. The medium answer is heil ja. A detailed look provides  a robust answer

All during the rise of Trump I was struck by how closely his actions mirrored Hitler and, to a lesser extent, Mussolini. Once or twice I suggested that fascist tendencies were operating but I held back from labeling him a Nazi because in 2017 for most people that is just a contentless insult.

However, now he has taken power we can cite specific events.

The most important thing, for now, is the way in which Trump is not like Hitler or Mussolini. He does not have a private army of 3 million semi-disciplined brawlers to take his program to the streets. He may not need it, but whether he does or not,  he does not have it. He also does not have the kind of corporate cash that Hitler had to pay for subversion.

It may be that some of the similarities between Trump and Hitler are just the general outlines of would-be despots. And I do not intend to suggest that Trump has an ideology, specifically Nazi or otherwise, although Bannon has.

Following are some of the organizational schemes or maneuvers that were characteristic of Hitler that are also common with Trump:

First and foremost: fuhrerprinzip. The leader cannot err and demands unquestioning allegiance.

Second, gleichschaltung, the first step of both the Nazi and the Trump regimes.  Gleichschaltung can be translated as my-way-or-the-highway, and it has operated everywhere in Trumpland. Spicer, now known to be the Charlie McCarthy to Trump's Edgar Bergan, has been explicit, as has Conway.

Dolchstosslegende,  belief that the nation has failed because of a stab-in-the-back by unpatriotic internal enemies. This was the heart of Trump's appeal during his campaign and was not his alone. The Tea Party anticipated him..

Attack on the legitimacy of the polity; intention to dismantle the government. This is explicitly Bannon's idea, but also Trump's. His repeated claims that the vote was rigged was intended to make the process of electing leaders illegitimate.

Attack on the political parties, press, selected business enemies of the people. Here we find a notable divergence; in Germany in the '20s business was almost entirely devoted to rightwing (not always Hitlerian) policies; in America today, businesses are more various and the preponderance would probably be happy to be apolitical. (This is where Cohen's warning about co-optation should have its impact; but for the Republican Party the process has already run its course. For the party, the model they should have looked at was the Democrats of the 1850s who decided they could compromise with slavery and were destroyed.)

Contempt for facts, belief that the leader can create them. However, Hitler and Mussolini were voracious readers and consumers of history; it is doubtful Trump has read a book.

Admiration for a foreign despot. For Hitler, it was Mussolini, for Trump, Putin.


Irredentism. The United States does not have any strictly irredentist claims but Trump has come close to inventing one with his claim in Iraq's oil.

 Is there any aspect of Trump's government that is much different from Hitler's? Only one. Hitler's relationship with the churches was testy, although he mollified them by concessions on schools and gleichschaltung did the rest. Trump has cozied up to the churches.

The anti-Hitler far right thought they could manage Hitler by partnering with him. He crushed them. The anti-Trump right, or much of it, thought the same. He has crushed them.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wow, didn't see that comin'

Trump rushes to the defense of a professional racist.

Who coulda predicted that?

sarc on/