A Candle for Saint Isidore

St Isidore

I was off the internet for a couple of days, until I figured out how to get back on. And so, today, I light a candle for Saint Isidore of Seville.

Saint Isidore (560-636), archbishop of Seville, wrote a famous encyclopedia containing all of human knowledge, as of the seventh century. Most of it was wrong.

Saint Isidore is, of course, the patron saint of the internet.

And so, Saint Isidore, this candle is for you.

candle

American Exceptionalism

Exceptionalism

Had some email exchanges this morning with Hans, who lives on the other side of the pond. Always informative. We have put together this little chart comparing covid-19 in our respective home places.

  Deaths per 100,000 population—Hans’s Home Deaths per 100,000 population—Arius’s Home
County 1.2 22
State 7.6 27
Country 10.9 34

 

Which to Choose?

You know how they post ads on the web pages you read. Well, someone thought I might be in the market for a Last Supper face mask.

Last Supper face maskThat did not seem like such a good idea, for a variety of reasons. But, I thought, maybe a St. Jude mask might be just the ticket. And, sure enough …

St Jude mask

The Business Roundtable, Crème de la Crème of the Plutocracy, Wants to Share Some Thoughts on Police Reform

Monopoly

The Business Roundtable writes,

Business Roundtable Police Reform Principles

Community Engagement

No effort to address policing issues will succeed without strong partnership and trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, including neighborhood and civil rights groups, schools, religious leaders, social workers and mental health professionals, local employers and others. Business Roundtable applauds bipartisan support for more investment in programs to promote community policing and increase police force diversity and community representation. Business Roundtable members further commit to working with community groups to uplift underserved populations.

Data Collection and Transparency

Transparency is a core democratic value. It is essential not only to better protect our citizens, but also to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Better data on law enforcement officer misconduct will improve departments’ hiring decisions, hold departments accountable, inform solutions, and enable better targeting of resources. To obtain federal funding, police departments should be required to collect, maintain and report data, including on detentions and use of force, as well as demographic information about arrests and detainees.

Accountability

The vast majority of police officers are dedicated public servants who pursue their work with courage and decency. For police officers who abuse their positions, or departments that allow abusive behavior, accountability is critical.

Business Roundtable supports the establishment of a National Police Misconduct Registry to maintain disciplinary records of officers, which will inform hiring decisions and promote public accountability. Data aggregated at the department level should also be made available to the public.

Further, the Department of Justice should establish minimum decertification standards to guide misconduct investigations, which should be carried to completion, whether or not an officer leaves the force, with findings of misconduct entered permanently on an officer’s record and available in a National Police Misconduct Registry.

To foster accountability at the department level, Business Roundtable supports grants to states to conduct pattern or practice investigations. Experience with Department of Justice investigations into actions involving a pattern or practice of conduct that violates individuals’ civil rights has shown that these types of investigations can lead to the adoption of new and constructive policies and procedures at the department level. 1

Minimum National Policing Standards

While principal responsibility for policing should remain at the state and local level, the continued crisis of excessive use of force, the loss of Black lives and the related loss of trust in law enforcement across many communities of color necessitates federal minimum standards for policing that are readily understood by the American public and tied to eligibility for federal grants. These standards should include a minimum national standard on use of lethal and non-lethal force; bans on chokeholds and carotid holds, except when deadly force is warranted; a duty to intervene; a ban on racial profiling; and a Department of Justice review and establishment of minimum credentialing and accreditation standards and procedures for officers.

Business Roundtable also urges policymakers to raise the standard for use of no-knock warrants and to require police departments to collect and report data around their use, including demographic information about the subjects, injuries, fatalities and whether use of the warrant produced admissible evidence of criminal activity.

Training

Business Roundtable supports federal investments in more robust training programs, including on alternatives to use of force, de-escalation and crisis intervention, mitigation of implicit racial bias, and methods to intervene to prevent another officer’s excessive use of force. Business Roundtable also supports vital investments in training to allow officers to better respond to mental health and addiction – an under-resourced area – including through co-response with social workers and mental health experts. Federally-supported training programs should be rigorously studied to ensure their effectiveness. Business Roundtable welcomes the opportunity to assist police departments in developing sound, data-driven training.

There are a number of other issues likely to be addressed as part of the final negotiations, including compensation or restitution for victims. Business Roundtable would welcome the opportunity to play a constructive role on any issue. To achieve meaningful reform that fosters trust between police departments and the communities they serve, Business Roundtable urges Members of Congress to come together and enact legislation before Congress’s August recess.

The Confused Elephant in the Room: A Postscript

I should have added this to my immediately preceding post.

Notice how events are forcing—literally forcing—Republican empty suits to abandon some of the craziness of the ten to twenty percent of the country who make up the hardest of the hard core of the Cult of Trump.

Call me nuts, but I draw a connection between the March of the Masked and the fate of the Confederate flag in Mississippi.

No, I don’t claim that A caused B or that B caused A. I claim that both developments—and many other developments we have yet to see—illustrate how an unbearable, and an untenable, strain is being placed on the alliance of the plutocrats and the racists.

Now, as the Mississippi article shows, if you’re a Confederate flag embracer, you are an embarrassment to the plutocrats—you frighten away their other customers—and they flat out don’t want you on Team Plutocrat any longer.

Some of us were anti-racists when anti-racism wasn’t cool. Now, we welcome as many as possible into the big anti-racist tent.

With that thought in mind, here is some evening music for you to enjoy.

And, as Ms. Mandrell would probably admit, some where country when country really, really wasn’t cool.

Mississippi, Yes, Even Mississippi: “We’re not Destroying our Heritage, We’re Fulfilling It”

Cheney etc

Washington Post, Mississippi lawmakers pass resolution paving way to remove Confederate logo from state flag:

Amid ongoing national protests against racial injustice, Mississippi state lawmakers have paved the way for legislation to remove the Confederate symbol from the state flag.

On Saturday, the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to clear the path for a measure that would remove the current flag and replace it with a new design free of Confederate iconography.

After the votes were announced in each chamber, applause broke out. Earlier in the day, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) indicated that he will sign the bill to change the flag if one reaches his desk, a shift from his previously held position that voters should decide whether to change the flag via referendum. …

House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White (R) also argued forcefully against keeping the flag, saying that “whether we like it or not,” it had come to be viewed as a symbol of hate.

“By changing our flag, we don’t abandon our founding principles,” he said. “We embrace them more fully by doing what is right. We’re not moving further away from our Founding Fathers’ visions. We’re moving closer to them. We’re not destroying our heritage; we’re fulfilling it.”

The Bostock Case

Text of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, decided by the Supreme Court on June 15, 2020

Linda Greenhouse, What Does ‘Sex’ Mean? The Supreme Court Answers

Ross Douthat, The Tempting of Neil Gorsuch: Another conservative justice’s arc bends toward juristocracy.

While much of what Mr. Douthat says is not egregiously incorrect, and some of it is even wise and thoughtful, his key premise is erroneous. By that, I mean his assumption that Justice Gorsuch was “legislating” rather than doing conventional legal analysis when he concluded that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids you to fire your employee for joining a gay softball league.

That statute forbids, among other things, discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. The hating-on-gays crowd argued that “sex” means, strictly, biological sex as determined at birth. Gorsuch responded, that might be right, and suppose it is, but if you fire a (biological) man for loving a man, but don’t fire a woman for loving a man, that’s still discrimination on the basis of sex.

And do, please, remember that Bostock was not a constitutional case, it was a statutory interpretation case. Gay rights were not much of a topic of conversation back in 1964, but people surely knew of the existence of homosexuality. The ambiguity in the language Congress employed was easily foreseeable. If Congress had an affirmative desire for gay people not to take advantage of its ambiguous language, then it could bloody well have inserted language to that effect.

The situation is very common. For example, the Founders knew that the rights enshrined in the First Amendment would need to be spelled out in subsequent case law. And, to take an example I know only too well, when Congress passed the vaguely worded Sherman Act back in 1890, again, it knew and acknowledged that it was creating a legal foundation on which the courts would erect an elaborate legal structure.

Every time Congress creates a situation like this, it knows or should know that, in concrete cases, the courts will be obliged to adopt an interpretation of statutory language that resolves ambiguities in the statutory language in a way that suffices to say who wins the particular case before the court, the plaintiff or the defendant.

It is not an option for the court just to say, “Oh, the statutory language is ambiguous, so I can’t decide the case, so get out of my courtroom.”

That’s all Justice Gorsuch was doing–resolving an ambiguity inherent in the words of the statute. That’s what judges do every day of the week.

No less.

No more.

Orange Man’s Other Delusion

Delusion

JUST LYING OR ACTUALLY DELUSIONAL? THE DEBATE CONTINUES, LITERALLY AD NAUSEAM

For the zillionth time, the question is posed: conscious lies or deep-seated delusion reflecting serious mental disorder?

Jonathan Chait, Delusional President Demands CNN Retract Poll:

Yesterday, President Trump lashed out at CNN’s poll showing him losing to Joe Biden by 14 points, directing legendarily inaccurate Republican pollster John McLaughlin to write a memo claiming the network deliberately engineered a false result.

Today, Trump has sent a letter to the network, signed by actual lawyers, demanding it retract the poll. CNN has obviously refused, explaining why its poll is in fact legitimate and not Fake. CNN’s result, showing Biden ahead by 14 points, is at the top end of a range of recent polling, but many other surveys have found Biden leading by low double digits.

As is the case with many of his erratic moves, the question arises whether Trump is actually suffering from a serious mental illness, or is instead pretending to believe something fantastical in an effort to rally his base. In this case, there is a plausible story for why Trump could be acting out of conscious cynicism. He seems to believe that polls themselves exert a strong pull on election outcomes, and that unfavorable polling will discourage his supporters from showing up.

On the other hand, there is a fair amount of evidence suggesting Trump is not playing a clever messaging game, or even a stupid one, but actually believes his own lies.

A month and a half ago, Trump threatened to sue his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, for bringing him bad polls, according to both the Washington Post and CNN. “Trump told Parscale that he did not believe the polling that had been presented to him, even though it came from the campaign and the RNC,” the Post reported. “‘I’m not losing to Joe Biden,’” Trump said at one point, both of these people said, adding that the president used profanities throughout the call.” The Post also reported that Parscale managed to mollify the boss by bringing “polling numbers that were more positive for Trump,” which resulted in Trump being “in a far better mood.”

Two days ago, the Daily Beast reported that Trump’s reelection campaign is spending $400,000 to run pro-Trump ads in Washington, D.C. The Washington market has no value — Trump is not seriously contesting either the city or its suburbs. The point is to soothe the president. “With Trump stuck in that milieu of anxiety, his re-election team is hoping that the ads may put him at ease that his formidable political machine is hard at work defending him and attacking his enemies,” notes the report.

This morning, the Washington Post casually drops the following sentence into the middle of an account of the campaign’s difficulties: “Trump has become obsessed with polling and lashes out at those who say he is losing to Biden, according to two White House officials and a longtime Trump ally.”

The reporters, perhaps because their sensitivities have been dulled by years of daily exposure to this kind of madness, immediately moved on to other points, rather than linger over the sheer irrationality revealed by this line. It is quite a conundrum for the president’s staff. He is obsessed with polls, but he becomes enraged upon being informed he’s losing to Biden. Given that every poll shows him losing to Biden, his advisers don’t seem to have a lot of good options.

Imagine we were discussing a regular person suffering this kind of pathology. (Jim loves Nascar, can’t get enough of it, wants to watch it all the time, but the sight of automobiles makes him go ballistic, so don’t let him see any cars.) We would be talking about finding him help.

Orange Man’s Other Delusion: He Can’t Count the Slytherins

Let me tell you what his other delusion is. His other delusion is that most white people are pretty much all, like him, stone cold racists.

That’s why he cannot maneuver the changing tides of public opinion on racial oppression. That’s why he’s going to side with Slytherins every time.

Because he can’t count the Slytherins.

“A Dramatic Turn on Questions of Racial Justice”

That old Hogwarts sorting had keeps on sorting. And, this time, it’s sorting the Slytherins—with their emphasis on blood purity—from the Gryffindors, among the Party Formerly Known as Republican.

Republican senators keep on observing a shameful silence on the key issues of the moment, knowing that whatever will please the Slytherins will anger the Gryffindors, and whatever will satisfy the Gryffindors will enrage the Slytherins.

I say, again, that this strategy will wind up enraging both sides.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Slytherins support police criminality and brutality, while the Gryffindors oppose police criminality and brutality.

A Republican house divided against itself cannot stand.

That being the case, a Republican house divided against itself will not stand.

Over at the progressive site Media Matters, we learn that some of the plutocrats are jumping off the Trump Train: After his bigoted rants about police brutality marches, Tucker Carlson has lost five major advertisers.

At at the Never Trump website, The Bulwark, the observations of Mona Charen this morning merit extensive quotation:

What we’ve learned in the past two weeks is that we were wrong. Reality reasserts itself. Minds can change. Just weeks ago, Black Lives Matter was regarded as a fringe movement, a response to a real problem perhaps, but a vastly exaggerated one. Today, the slogan emblazons 16th Street in front of the White House. As Politico’s Tim Alberta reports, in 2014, after Eric Garner was choked by police, only 33 percent of Americans—and only 26 percent of whites—believed that black people were more likely to be mistreated by police than others. Today, 57 percent of Americans, including 49 percent of whites, believe police are more likely to use force against African Americans.

This week, the 2012 Republican nominee for president marched in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C. A week before that, the last two-term Republican president released a statement using the term “systemic racism,” which curled the toes of some right-wing commentators but comports with the views of more than 80 percent of Americans. An eyebrow-raising 29 percent of Republicans say President Trump has “mostly increased” racial tensions, along with 92 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents. The Drudge Report, once a redoubt of Trump enthusiasm, hawked “Justice for George FlAfter the president tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” his approval rating among independents dropped 10 points, from 40 to 30 percent. His handling of the Floyd murder aftermath has cost him even among Republicans, 83 percent of whom rated him favorably in May, compared with 90 percent in April. White evangelical Christians, the constituency that inspired Trump’s Bible semaphore in front of St. John’s Church, have also soured a bit on the “law and order” president. In May, 62 percent rated him favorably, down from 77 percent in April.

The country is executing a dramatic turn on questions of racial justice. That vile video of depraved police suffocating a handcuffed man has penetrated our armor-plated opinion silos. Coming after other high-profile outrages, it has ignited a movement. And while some have allowed the moment to overwhelm their judgment, calling not just to reform the police but to “abolish” the police (which will. not. happen.), it will be interesting to see where this leaves the Republican party, because step by step, the party of Lincoln has permitted itself to become not racist but, let’s say, in denial about racism in its ranks.

Have a look at this email I received from Amanda Chase, the first announced Republican candidate for Virginia governor in 2021. “Help me save the Robert E. Lee statue!” she pleads. That’s what the Republican Party of Virginia now stands for? Defending statues of Lee? Governor Ralph Northam’s decision to remove Lee’s statue from its perch in Richmond, she cries, is a “surrender to looters and antifa.”

One extremist does not a party define. But the Republican Party of Virginia previously nominated Corey Stewart for a U.S. Senate seat. He defended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and had previously made a name for himself by defending Confederate monuments, or “taking back our heritage” as he put it, which is odd, because Stewart grew up in Minnesota, the first state to send volunteers to quell the rebellion in 1861.

The Republican Party of Alabama nominated Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate in 2017. Aside from his alleged predation on young teenage girls, Moore was an enthusiastic “birther.” The Republican Party of Oregon has nominated Jo Rae Perkins, a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy, for the Senate. …

The Republican party has been led, by stages, out on a very thin ledge. Most are not extremists or conspiracists or racists, but they look at their shoes and kick the dirt when those elements succeed in their party. They’ve allowed their conscience muscles to atrophy. Now the country is reevaluating questions of policing and race, finding previously elusive agreement on the need for reform, and exposing just how lost the Republican party has become.

The Senators from Laodicea

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

Revelation 3: 14-16

So, here’s the deal. Everybody saw what they saw. This morning, Trump tweeted out a loony tune conspiracy theory about how the old man got what he deserved. Republican senators are dodging, bobbing, and weaving.

My prediction: pretty soon, those bobbing, dodging, and weaving Senators from Laodicea are going to royally piss off both legs of their electoral stool. The nutjobs embracing the conspiracy theories will be pissed off because Senator Cornpone won’t lend his enthusiastic support. The country club Republicans who still live a world resembling reality will be pissed off by their cowardice.

My second, and related, prediction: In the 2020 election, the Senators from Laodicea, having pissed off both sides of the traditional Republican coalition, will receive fewer votes than the Orange Man.

Let America Be America Again

test

Let America Be America Again

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

 

(America never was America to me.)

 

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

 

(It never was America to me.)

 

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

 

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

 

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

 

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

 

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

 

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

 

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

 

The free?

 

Who said the free?  Not me?

Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

 

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

 

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

 

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

 

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!