How has your weekend been so far?

Mine hasn’t been so great. I’ve mainly been watching my country collapse around me.

This is all going to end in a bloody revolution, isn’t it?

I thought Julius Streicher was dead!

Maybe he was reincarnated as Donald Trump. Hey, Trump was born in 1946, while Streicher was executed in 1946. Coincidence? Or FATE?

Further the president said that the Secretary of Homeland Security will be publishing a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants, and of the cities that refused to turn them in for deportation. The order doesn’t say whether the list would single out only undocumented immigrants, or all immigrants.

The article compares this list to one regularly published in Breitbart. Pfft. We know better. Breitbart is just the slimy descendant of Der Stürmer.

Oh, interesting. Here’s a map of the countries where he’s blocked immigration.


All those colored countries are mainly Muslim. The red ones are the bad Muslim countries; the yellow ones are the countries where Trump has business interests. No terrorists in Saudi Arabia, I guess, just money.

When are the impeachment proceedings beginning?

My alma mater has a fascism problem

The University of Washington doesn’t seem to be dealing with their fascist conservative students very well. Last week, they had a peaceful weekend of protests that were marred by one disgraceful incident: one of those “alt-right”, neo-Nazi, young Republican Milo Yiannopoulos supporters shot someone. By all accounts, the man who was shot was an unarmed anti-racist organizer who was trying to de-escalate the conflicts; the shooter we know little about, except that he was pro-Milo, and he came to a non-violent rally carrying a pistol.

Stop right there. The man came armed to a peaceful protest and shot someone. He was identified — they have video and eyewitness testimony and, apparently, the gun — and picked up by the police…who then let him go. The prosecutors say they need more time to build a case against him. Unbelievable. I’m going to go out on a limb and make another prediction about the shooter: he’s white.

There’s more. The College Republicans at the University of Washington came out with a statement afterwards, deploring the incident. Not the shooting, oh no — that is only mentioned indirectly, with the implication that it’s the fault of the anti-fascists.

As we all reflect on the events of last night, it has become clear to us that hundreds if not thousands within the UW community disagree with yesterday’s tactics utilized by the ‘Seattle Antifa’ movement.

Wha…? It’s your fascist side that shot a man.

The protestors had little regard for the safety of the community they claim to be protecting,

The protesters were unarmed. It was your side that brought a gun.

and people ended up going home covered in paint and much worse for some, their own blood.

Yeah. Because you shot a man.

It was an abhorrent display of what Seattle has come to,

I agree. That the UWPD allowed a man to walk away after shooting someone is abhorrent.

and we at the UWCR are determined now more than ever to continue fighting against this pseudo-terrorism that guises itself as justice.

Right. By promoting real violent terrorism to defend injustice.

It continues in this vein, patting themselves on the back for their popularity and how beloved their fascist organization is in the community, and reversing reality to pretend to be the heroes here.

Antifa, Anarchists, violent political agitators, you have been seen by the public for what you really are.

I can’t get over this. Their side brought a gun and used it, and they get all indignant and accuse the victims of being “violent political agitators”?

We see you occupiying our libraries, inhibiting education, and frightening students who are by and large not even aware of what your motives are.

Uh, you know what frightens me? Cocky right-wing assholes strutting about campus with guns in their pockets. We know what our motives are, and we’re quite clear about them, to the point where even you named it: anti-fascism. No authority without responsibility and accountability. Equality and democracy. All the stuff you oppose.

You have been seen in our cities damaging property that does not belong to you, and inciting violence and disobedience towards the men and women who protect us (yourselves included).

They protect you; you can shoot someone, and the police will let you walk. That doesn’t sound like they’re protecting the people who get shot.

But wait, now comes the fun part. After all this posturing as the victims, they’re going to threaten.

You have been seen on national television clearly being the cause of increased division in our society, and it’s time your flame is put out. If you keep prodding the right you may be unpleasantly surprised what the outcome will be. Youve obviously learned nothing after Trump’s election.

Trump justifies everything! Including shooting people, apparently. Or worse.

This is the executive who just made an executive order outright banning the immigration of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. He also “ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.”

This is what he wants.


That’s what you stand for, UWCR, and you’re proud of it. As an alumnus of the University of Washington, I stand against you, I despise you, and I consider you a corrupting poison in the community.

Meanwhile, over here on the left, we’ve got people wringing their hands over punching Nazis (fortunately, some of us still have the moral clarity to see that Nazis and other genocidal, racist cowards must be opposed).

Just remember this: your side shot an unarmed man, and then blamed him for it.

The UW has a fascism problem. And let’s not hide it: it’s name is the College Republicans.

Charles Blow tells it like it is


We need more of this kind of truth-telling:

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

This is the straight talk you don’t usually get in our cautious, conservative, cozy-with-evil media: you get “euphemisms like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.”” This has to stop.

We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.

Our president is a LIAR. Say it loud.

Samantha Bee explains how dangerously pathetic @POTUS is

The comedians are going to be busy.

He really is a sad little man. He did a White House interview with ABC, and you’ll never guess how it ends…with Trump giving a tour of the collection of photos he has had mounted on the wall that ‘prove’ he had the biggest inauguration crowds ever. The interviewer smiled and failed to mention that the data show he is wrong, that he persists in insisting on this lie after being shown the evidence that his claim was false makes him a liar, and that his obsession in denying his unpopularity as president makes him petty and unfit for office.

But then, the interviewer probably hopes to get invited back, so he was avoiding asking those pointed questions that might annoy the buffoon-in-chief.

The imminent destruction of American science

A little history lesson: the United States has not always been a major player in scientific research. In fact, Europe has a longer research tradition, and before WWII the US was looked upon as a bucolic place that had the advantages of a great deal of natural resources, but with only scattered centers of academic excellence, and most of the research was done by the independently wealthy at private colleges. I remember reading about Edwin Conklin, a big name developmental biologist at the turn of the last century, and being rather surprised that all of his work at marine stations was paid for out of his own pocket, a fact of life that was taken entirely for granted at the time.

All the big state colleges that are the backbone of our research efforts now were founded as either agricultural schools or normal, or teaching, schools. They were not intended to be major research centers. You’d go to State U to learn how to farm, or in a few place, mine, or how to become a public school teacher. In my grandparents’ day, that was the default: you’d scrimp and save to send the oldest son to college to prepare him to inherit the family farm, and maybe you’d send the oldest daughter off to learn to be the local school marm.

That all changed with WWII and the work of Vannevar Bush, who saw an opportunity to harness the potential brain power of the country. You don’t think Europe hoped for our entry into the war because we’d bring in high tech wonder weapons, do you? We were a big reserve of manpower for cannon fodder and iron for ships and artillery. The Brits (and the Germans) were the eggheads. Bush was the man who transformed everything in this country, providing resources through the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development to fund innovative science and cultivate an atmosphere that valued research at our universities. Everything that we appreciate about American science flowed out of the investment of federal funds in the research enterprise via the OSRD, which eventually metamorphosed into the National Science Foundation, the major source of basic research funding. (The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also huge, but as you might guess from the name has more of an applied research focus on biomedical research, although plenty of basic research also gets smuggled in).

A chill should run down your spine when Trump’s pick for the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, suggests that … what might be the best question: do we really need government funded research at all. The context of that question was a rambling post in which he raised a whole lot of, to his mind, unanswered questions about the Zika virus.

Brazil’s microcephaly epidemic continues to pose a mystery — if Zika is the culprit, why are there no similar epidemics in countries also hit hard by the virus? In Brazil, the microcephaly rate soared with more than 1,500 confirmed cases. But in Colombia, a recent study of nearly 12,000 pregnant women infected with Zika found zero microcephaly cases. If Zika is to blame for microcephaly, where are the missing cases? According to a new report from the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), the number of missing cases in Colombia and elsewhere raises serious questions about the assumed connection between Zika and microcephaly.

He was wrong about just about everything, as the linked article explains, but still what strikes me is that he’s pointing out all these difficulties, and raising all these questions (see those question marks? Scientists are the people who bring up those question marks and then try to answer them), and he’s then using the questions as a reason to avoid funding the process of resolving them. This is a man who doesn’t understand the whole point of research, to the point that he considers the possibility of not funding it at all. He’d like to roll back American science to the 1920s.

I can tell you personally what that would be like: you’d reduce American science to places like my lab. I’ve worked at Research 1 universities, and this is a whole ‘nother animal. I have no federal funding — a few of my colleagues do get small NSF grants now and then, but it’s hard to persuade the agencies to support small schools, especially when grant money is incredibly tight. I have a tiny lab space that also does double-duty as a class lab when I teach small upper level courses (many of my colleagues across the country will be jealous: they have no lab of their own, but do have classroom space that can do double-duty as a research lab when they aren’t teaching). I keep up with small supplies — pipettes, paper towels, that sort of thing — with maintenance money from the department.

My chief research tool, a microscope, was purchased with a state grant, part of the building fund that paid for renovations of the old science building and construction of a new wing. It isn’t really my scope; it’s a shared resource for all of the biology faculty that just happens to be kept in my lab.

I’ve been lucky in that I do have an independent, but small, revenue stream. All the additional equipment in my lab, like my digital camera system and animal maintenance stuff, is paid for with…blogging money! Yes, real student research is being supported by those obnoxious ads you see springing up around here. Now try to imagine a world-class biology research unit (not mine) with dozens of grad students and a gang of post-docs and a couple of technicians and the latest, cutting edge research tools that burn through reagents that cost more than my annual salary trying to support themselves by creating a popular blog and sprinkling it with ads for the latest fad food that will help you lose weight.

That isn’t going to happen.

The kinds of research I can do are limited. The latest project is one that Edwin Conklin would have understood perfectly in 1905, using tools that would have been considered high-tech in 1978, but I think we’ll be able to eke out a little bit of useful data, a tiny contribution to the body of evidence. My main contribution is that I can teach students to think like scientists, even with our limited resources, so they can go off to research careers at bigger places…which would cease to exist if Mick Mulvaney had his way.

I am not complaining about my situation. This is actually what I wanted, a place where I could focus on teaching, didn’t have to spend all my time writing hard-to-get grants, and could still work independently in a small lab. It’s perfect for me. It is not at all ideal if you want a national source of advanced research. You’re just going to have a lot of people like me training eager, ambitious kids for possibilities that you’ve eliminated.

That’s not the worst of it.

Suddenly, the federal government has decreed that USDA scientists may not talk about their work in public. This is antithetical to the whole point of doing science!

The EPA has frozen all of its grants. Environmental scientists have also been told they can’t communicate with the public.

The CDC has pre-emptively canceled a climate change meeting. Why? I suspect they’re battening down the hatches, preparing for some lean years, and investing in a meeting that will just get canceled by the administration is an unwise choice.

The National Park Service is being censored. Badlands National Park has had tweets deleted that discussed the evidence for climate change. “Rogue” elements of the park service have resorted to disseminating information under aliases.

All this in just the first four days of the Trump regime taking office. It takes far less time to demolish an institution than it does to build one up. Vannevar Bush’s contributions took decades to bear fruit, and Trump is determined to burn them all down in days.

And taking a wrecking crew to science isn’t even the worst thing he has done! He aims to wreck public education with the appointment of Betsy DeVos — even my small lab becomes pointless if that stream of eager, ambitious students dries up. Congress is busily trying to prohibit all family planning. How’s this for irony?

Making it (Hyde) permanent is not just important for the moral fiber — fabric of our country, but you’ll see millions more lives saved by us taking this important action, House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, told reporters Tuesday.

I remember Henry Hyde, corrupt Catholic, philanderer and adulterer. That his name is invoked at the same time as the words “moral fiber” is amazing hypocrisy.

So, in this time of turmoil, when injustice rules and inequity thrives, when all is to be subordinated to the selfish greed of a small number of extremely wealthy white people, I fear that the loss of American science is a tiny problem and will be lost in the chaos. It is shaping up to be an early casualty, though, and when faced with a thousand losses, triage is hard, and terrifying. We are looking at devastating losses to humanity on all fronts, thanks to the fact that we have elected an incompetent demagogue to lead the country, who is propped up by a political party that has become a garbage fire of epic proportions.

We’re doomed.

But we need to keep fighting for everything, every step of the way. A Scientist’s March on Washington is being organized. I don’t think it can have the impact of the Women’s March — we don’t have the numbers — but maybe if it’s a march intended to focus on one-on-one lobbying with congress, and to getting the press engaged, it can help.

Ultimately, though, the only thing that’s going to make a big difference is to depose the tyrant and banish him to a cozy retirement home where he can watch a lot of TV and do no further harm. We also have to basically delete the entire Republican party and grow a new, rational opposition party, one that will give the Democrats an incentive to actually do effective good for a change.

More on the Scientist’s March on Washington — it’s very preliminary, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

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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