National Day of Patriotic Devotion??!? For what?

What the ever-loving fuck? Donald Trump has proclaimed that 20 January 2017, his inauguration day, is a National Day of Patriotic Devotion.

A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.

Freedom is the birthright of all Americans, and to preserve that freedom we must maintain faith in our sacred values and heritage.

Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it. There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country — and to renew the duties of Government to the people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

That is totally clownshoes. It’s an utterly bonkers declaration. He’s saying that one day, 3 days ago, is retroactively a day we were supposed to be patriotically devoted? He decided this for us all on his inauguration day, but didn’t bother to tell us?

We are ruled by a goofy, pompous narcissist with delusions of grandeur. It’s an embarrassment.

Oh, well. It’s a harmlessly ridiculous act that does nothing but make Trump look ridiculous. It’s not as if he signed anything that would kill people…oh, fuck.

Say, hi, Mike Pence, you evil old asshole. Now you’re exporting ignorance around the world.

The ban, which was first implemented by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and has been enforced by all Republican administrations since then, has been called the “global gag rule” because it prevents medical professionals and aid workers whose work is supported by U.S. grants from even talking about termination as an option for women with unwanted pregnancies. The rule forces international aid agencies to make a tough choice: Either reject American funds and continue to give women accurate information about their reproductive health options, or accept American funds and deny women information about abortions they may desperately need.

This is nuts. That Women’s March was not enough: instead of peacefully demonstrating, they should have stormed the White House doors to tar and feather these patriarch wanna-bes.

Your word for the day

You should know this word, it’ll be useful in years to come.

claque |klak|
1 a group of sycophantic followers: the president was surrounded by a claque of scheming bureaucrats.
2 a group of people hired to applaud (or heckle) a performer or public speaker.
mid 19th century: French, from claquer ‘to clap.’ The practice of paying members of an audience for their support originated at the Paris opera.

Note that this is different from clique, which is “a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.” While it is mildly pejorative, we all have our little cliques; very few of us are dishonest enough to pay for a claque.

Stop tolerating the intolerable

I had a terrible thought yesterday. I was born during the Eisenhower administration, but I don’t remember it; I do recall Kennedy and the 60s, and Nixon, and the march through ever worsening presidents. Now we have Trump, and I realized that, at my age, he could be my last president, especially since Trump is going to gut the health system during a period I may need it most. This span of time representing the agonizing death of American idealism, decline of liberalism, and collapse into corruption has played out as the background of my life.

That’s depressing. History is not going to remember me, but I managed to live through a terrible period that will be remembered, unpleasantly. It would be nice to go out on a note of optimism, but that’s probably not going to happen.

Unless y’all get cracking on that revolution, that is.

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How are you spending the last day of American civilization?

It all ends tomorrow, so I hope you’ve got plans. I’m spending it teaching — we’ve got to have people prepared to restore the lost promise. Tomorrow the TV stays off, radio (who listens to radio anymore?) is disabled, I’m boycotting all of the news, and I’m going to focus on biology prep work for the next week.

Saturday we begin the long hard slog of trying to crawl out of the slime pit we’ve dug for ourselves. And I get to spend the rest of my life ashamed to have been an American.

Nothing matters any more

We are not a nation of laws, if we ever were. We are a rogue state, a banana republic, and we always have been…we’ve been held together with a tissue of cherished myths about Democracy and the Republic and Service and Citizenship, when the truth is that those values are unenforced, and the real rule is that the rich can get away with anything they want.

We’ve also been watching the gradual replacement of “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” with the Libertarian myth of “I got mine, so fuck you.” I can’t even console myself with the old gloss of American idealism anymore when naked capitalism has become the raison d’etre of the state.

So how about them senate hearings on the Trump adminstration, hey? Perfect examples of the failures of our government. We sort of lied to ourselves and said before that maybe the electoral college would save us, that it’s whole purpose was to prevent unqualified demagogues from taking power. We sure fooled ourselves with that one — the purpose of the electoral college is to perpetuate the power of the obscenely wealthy and comfortable elites. And now we have a series of hearings on Trump nominees, all carried out in the vain illusion that they will act to block incompetents and corrupt cronies of the head of state from getting their hands on the tools of state. Do you believe it?

Jeff Sessions is a racist buffoon. The senate will judge him next week. I predict that he will be approved, not because he actually reassured us all that he is a good man, but because the rubber stamp is poised and ready.

Right now we get the spectacle of Betsy DeVos being alternatively praised/massaged by Republican ideologues, and subjected to critical questioning by the powerless minority party.

DeVos is a bigot who profited off the Amway pyramid scheme.

Both the DeVoses and the Princes have been key supporters of Focus on the Family, which was founded by the influential evangelical leader James Dobson. In a 2002 radio broadcast, Dobson called on parents in some states to to pull their kids out of public schools, calling the curriculum “godless and immoral” and suggesting that Christian teachers should also leave public schools: “I couldn’t be in an organization that’s supporting that kind of anti-Christian nonsense.” Dobson also has distributed a set of history lessons that argue that “separating Christianity from government is virtually impossible and would result in unthinkable damage to the nation and its people.” The Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation gave $275,000 to Focus on the Family from 1999 to 2001 but hasn’t donated since; it gave an additional $35,760 to the group’s Michigan and DC affiliates from 2001 to 2010. The Prince Foundation donated $5.2 million to Focus on the Family and $275,000 to its Michigan affiliate from 2001 to 2014. (It also gave $6.1 million to the Family Research Council, which has fought against same-sex marriage and anti-bullying programs—and is listed as an “anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The FRC used to be a division of Focus on the Family before it became an independent nonprofit, with Dobson serving on its board, in 1992.)

She will demolish public education to promote racial inequities.

Yet, for all of the Obama administration’s education policy failures, the DeVos appointment has the potential to be catastrophic. It represents a clear and present danger to the wellbeing of scores of students of color who have been most heavily impacted by privatization and the gutting of multicultural education. Nationwide, African-American, Latino, and Native-American students continue to have the lowest graduation and college-going rates. They are less likely to be taught by well-qualified teachers and more likely to be in schools where college counselors are either absent or saddled with too many students. Indeed, some urban schools of color have more school police than college counselors. And because many students of color don’t have equitable access to college prep curricula in the humanities and STEM disciplines, they have higher attrition rates when they go to college.

She is criminally incompetent and unsuited to the post.

As nearly as I can tell, the nominees for the president-elect’s Cabinet fall into several different categories. There are the people you’d pretty much expect from any Republican administration. (James Mattis, Stephen Flynn, Ryan Zinke). There are the people who understand the mission of their departments and have spent their lives undermining it. (Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Rick Perry at Energy, Andrew Puzder at Labor). And there are the people who are fundamentally clueless about the general nature of public service. (Rex Tillerson at State.) On Tuesday night, DeVos demonstrated that she is that rarest of Trump administration fauna: Someone who fits capably into all three categories.

She and her family and the Amway gozillions they control have been a bottomless reservoir for the dark money that is the engine behind a dozen different conservative fetish objects, from right-to-work laws, to gutting campaign finance regulations, to injecting splinter Protestantism into every part of the political commons. So she’s pretty much what you’d expect from any Republican administration. She understands the mission of the Department of Education and truly dislikes it. And, as was graphically demonstrated even in the truncated questioning Tuesday night, she doesn’t know enough about education policy to feed to your guppies.

Do any of you believe for one minute that her nomination will be stopped by anyone in our government? Not I. She has demonstrated her talent for kleptocracy in Michigan already, she is an ill-gained billionaire, she intends to promote ignorance, and she has all the petty bigotries of the capitalist ruling class, so of course she will sail through and get a choice spot in which to loot the educational system and be a cheerleader for theocracy.

All that stuff about separation of church and state and an informed citizenry and responsible representative government from the founding fathers (who are deified by the Republican party) was a smokescreen to cover a wealthy power grab. I can’t believe it any more. Many thanks to the Republicans and Trump for at least stripping the pretense and exposing the naked truth.

I fear my own views on the American government. When a nation works so hard to lose all the confidence of its people, upheaval is not far off.

Another sign of doom: the climate change denial of Rex Tillerson

I’ve seen moderate Democrats actually say that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, seems reasonable, especially compared to the crew of ratfucking incompetents he’s packing into the rest of his administration. It’s not true. He’s as bad as the rest of them, and what we’re seeing is a gradual acclimation to the new politics of corruption and ignorance.

He’s a former ExxonMobil CEO. Do you think he’s going to lead our country’s work to resist climate change? No, he is not.

After more than six hours of testimony, Tillerson backtracked even further, telling senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that though the evidence of a changing climate was clear, the cause wasn’t. “The science behind the clear connection (to human activity) is not conclusive,” Tillerson said, an assertion as false as the scientific consensus is clear.

He’s just flatly wrong, in defiance of the scientific evidence. That ought to be enough to scuttle his nomination, but you know it won’t be.

He knows what his mission is. It’s to undermine funding and support for initiatives that might hurt the profits of the coal and oil industries.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who believes government money currently spent fighting climate change could be “better spent” elsewhere, pushed Tillerson to commit to abandoning US funding for anti-climate change initiatives. Specifically, Barrasso opposes support for the Green Climate Fund, an international program set up to help developing nations deal with the effects of climate change. The US under Obama has pledged $3 billion.

“In consultation with the president, my expectation is that we are going to look at these things from the bottom up in terms of funds we’ve committed toward this effort,” Tillerson said.

Even in his non-answer, it’s clear Tillerson was open to dropping such funding. Instead, he opined on the power of electricity to lift people out of poverty. A noble aspiration, perhaps, but one that would provide little consolation to communities ravaged by climate change now and in the future. In today’s hearing, Tillerson may not have out-and-out denied the existence of human-caused climate change or the need for the US to help combat it. But his tepidness on global warming betrayed one clear fact: if confirmed, the US will no longer lead on climate change. It will be at the table, sure, but as a difficult guest, not the host.

This is where we’re at. We are the Soviet Union of 70 years ago, when the science of genetics was rejected for ideological reasons. The comparison to Trofim Lysenko’s career is obvious; just substitute climate science for genetics, Tillerson for Lysenko, and the whole damn Republican party for Stalin.

By 1948, scientific dissent from Lysenko’s theories had been outlawed in the Soviet Union, even though the vast majority of Soviet biologists, with increasing (if surreptitious) access to Western publications, knew that those theories were nonsense. The theory that human-induced climate change is not real is likewise nonsense. It is a theory that is only held by those who do not wish to face facts. Those facts, such as record atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and inexorably increasing global temperatures, speak for themselves. We are already in a situation where the 1.5C temperature increase that was the center of the Paris agreement seems to be an absurdly optimistic goal. It is almost sure to be exceeded, although we don’t know where, and we don’t know when.

This uncertainty has been taken as an opportunity by today’s climate change Lysenkoists. Like the cigarette manufacturers who refused to accept the increasingly obvious link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1960s and 1970s, the new Lysenkoists will grab on to any expression of uncertainty to justify their self-interested beliefs. They include, but are not limited to, the representatives of the fossil fuel industry and their political allies. Their pernicious influence is not just confined to the U.S. In my own country of Australia, for example, the Government has been lobbying strongly for more Chinese purchases of coal, and is also about to advance a loan of $Aus 1 billion for the establishment of a giant new coal mine near the already-threatened Great Barrier Reef.

Every person on Trump’s team is a shill for a fraud. Don’t be fooled. Every one of them is purest poison, not just to America’s future, but to the whole of humanity.

They can move quickly when there’s the opportunity to kill people

I’m almost afraid to go to sleep at night any more. The rats are busy, busy, busy, plotting destruction.

Last night, while most of us were unconscious, the Republican senate pulled some procedural games to allow them to act unilaterally. They really are determined to destroy people’s health insurance.

Thursday’s Senate procedural vote will set up special budget rules that will allow the repeal vote to take place with a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, instead of the 60 votes required to move most legislation.

That means Republicans, who control 52 seats, can push through repeal legislation without Democratic cooperation. They’re also discussing whether there are some elements of a replacement bill that could get through at the same time with a simple majority. But for many elements of a new health care law, Republicans are likely to need 60 votes and Democratic support, and at this point the two parties aren’t even talking.

They also discussed what they don’t like about the Affordable Care Act. Among the things they definitely want to kill are preexisting conditions protections, the ability for young adults to stay on their parents’ plan, and, of course, contraception. Those all sound like wonderful things to me, and I can’t understand how anyone can think we ought to dispose of them, so the logic escapes me — the drumbeat of hatred for all things Obama has led to people voting to demolish even those accomplishments that help them.

Oh, and also, Trump is going to announce his Supreme Court pick within two weeks.

We are so fucked. And by “we”, I mean all of the American people, including those who voted for these Republican scum.

(Important: Even if you stay awake all night, wide-eyed and staring in terror, the Republicans are still going to do everything they can to ruin your life and the lives of your children. You might as well try to get some sleep.)