Smells like…VICTORY.

The United States Department of Justice has issued a statement on the protests at Standing Rock.

Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.

“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”

This will not be the revolution I wanted

For-profit universities are a pox on the world — these are institutions that take advantage of the ambitious poor, people with aspirations who are trying to get an education, and who believe the lies of the promoters. And these things really are run by capitalists who consider quality last and getting paying bodies in to the often virtual door first.

Laureate Universities are part of the exploitive system, although, to be fair, everyone says “it is not considered among the worst offenders in the for-profit college industry”. Isn’t that reassuring? They also invest a smaller proportion of their revenues on marketing and advertising than Harvard, and their president gets paid less than the head football coach at Notre Dame, facts that are apparently supposed to make us feel better about Laureate but actually leave me disgusted with the priorities of most universities.

Now I learn that Bill Clinton was the honorary chancellor of Laureate Universities. “Honorary” meaning he was not expected to do any real work, but was just endorsing the place and allowing them to slap his face on all their advertising, but he was apparently expecting to get paid. And he did.

Clinton was paid $18 million over 5 years for a few token appearances in promotional visits and brochures.

Eighteen fucking million dollars. $18,000,000. $3.6 million per year. For an honorary position. He got paid as much as 240 minimum wage workers, and didn’t do as much work for it as one malingerer. He did use his influence with the Secretary of State to get Laureate invited to a higher ed policy dinner, though, and seeing the face of the former President of the United States on the advertising probably fooled a lot of rubes into thinking that Laureate was legit, so in a sense he did earn his payola.

But it’s yet another sign of venality and corruption at the highest levels of government, and tells me that, in spite of the mild praise padding every article about them, Laureate is just another well-heeled con job.

I know. Trump University was a worse scandal. That was a cheesy, cheaply gilded “educational” scam befitting a low-rent no-class thug like Donald Trump. Laureate University a tasteful, solid-gold, up-scale scam, which makes it…better?

So once again, another election year, and there’s absolutely no question who I have to vote for in November — there is no question that Donald Trump is a ghastly fascist/racist demagogue and goon, and that we can’t allow the Republican party to hold any power at all. But jebus, why do both candidates have to be so sleazy and unappealing?

Phyllis Schlafly is dead

They say if you can’t say something nice about the dead, you should say nothing at all.























































































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That’s quite the dog whistle

Donald Trump is getting more subtle in his racism. He said this recently:

We’ve admitted 59 million immigrants to the United States between 1965 and 2015. Many of these arrivals have greatly enriched our country. So true. But we now have an obligation to them and to their children to control future immigration as we are following, if you think, previous immigration waves…
To keep immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms. To select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in U.S. society and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.

As Eric Schmeltzer points out, “1965” is a dogwhistle to the racists. That’s the year, to their horror, that a law established during the height of the eugenics fervor, prior to WWII, was gutted by congress.

In 1965, we passed the Immigration and Nationality Act. That law essentially repealed the crux of a 1920s law called the Emergency Quota Act.

The Emergency Quota Act (and a 1924 bill that slightly amended it) set quotas on immigration that were based on the number of people of a nationality currently in a country. The effect and intent of the law was abundantly clear. America was mostly white and European, and the law was going to keep it that way, by putting low and hard caps on “others,” while opening the doors to more white Europeans.

I cannot emphasize enough how vile the 1924 act was — it was patently, unashamedly, blatantly racist. Rather than admitting new immigrants on the basis of need or ability, it made the primary criterion for limiting immigration the color of their skin and ethnicity of origin. It enshrined the bigotry of a small group of influential, educated white men, in particular a few Harvard-educated Anglo-Saxon elites, into the law of the land. As Gould summarized it in The Mismeasure of Man:

Congressional debates leading to passage of the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 frequently invoked the army data [misleading data from IQ tests]. Eugenicists lobbied not only for limits to immigration, but for changing its character by imposing harsh quotas against nations of inferior stock—a feature of the 1924 act that might never have been implemented, or even considered, without the army data and eugenicist propaganda. In short, southern and eastern Europeans, the Alpine and Mediterranean nations with minimal scores on the army tests, should be kept out. The eugenicists battled and won one of the greatest victories of scientific racism in American history. The first restriction act of 1921 had set yearly quotas at 3 percent of immigrants from any nation then resident in America. The 1924 act, following a barrage of eugenicist propaganda, reset the quotas at 2 percent of people from each nation recorded in the 1890 census. The 1890 figures were used until 1930. Why 1890 and not 1920 since the act was passed in 1924? 1890 marked a watershed in the history of immigration. Southern and eastern Europeans arrived in relatively small numbers before then, but began to predominate thereafter. Cynical, but effective. “America must be kept American,” proclaimed Calvin Coolidge as he signed the bill.

They were cunning. Rather than openly and explicitly shutting down the immigration of swarthy Italians and Greeks and Lebanese, or worst of all, the dusky inhabitants of the Dark Continent by name, which would have been a little too on-the-nose, they used a call to “historical norms” and declared the noble cause of American purity, which everyone knew meant keeping America white. Those brown people, obviously, are not truly American.

That’s what Donald Trump is signing on to now. He is tapping directly into nativist bigotry in a way that’s not obvious to people outside racist circles. These ideas have consequences — dreadful, fatal, corrupting consequences — and we’ve got a media that’s oblivious to what is going on, and a significant sub-population that does understand what he’s saying, and is cheering it on. Take it away again, Steve Gould:

The quotas stood, and slowed immigration from southern and eastern Europe to a trickle. Throughout the 1930s, Jewish refugees, anticipating the holocaust, sought to emigrate, but were not admitted. The legal quotas, and continuing eugenical propaganda, barred them even in years when inflated quotas for western and northern European nations were not filled. Chase (1977) has estimated that the quotas barred up to 6 million southern, central, and eastern Europeans between 1924 and the outbreak of World War II (assuming that immigration had continued at its pre-1924 rate). We know what happened to many who wished to leave but had nowhere to go. The paths to destruction are often indirect, but ideas can be agents as sure as guns and bombs.

The Golden Door is being slammed shut, and the lamp is going dark.

I’m a “normie”?

Via Joe.My.God, we get An Accurate History of the Alt-Right, as told by Andrew Anglin at The Daily Stormer (no, I’m not linking to those assholes). It’s remarkable. Anglin lists the elements that combined to create the Alt-Right, and they are:

  • Internet troll culture

  • Conspiracy theorism

  • Libertarianism/Paleoconservatism

  • The Manosphere

  • #GamerGate

  • The Old White Nationalist Movement

  • Identitarian Movements (which he can’t distinguish from white nationalism)

I feel like mentioning to him that those are all bad things. Why are you listing all the worst elements of human behavior as if they were something of which they should be proud? “I have made this delicious casserole out of the most pungent, disgusting things I could fish out of a sewer. Are you not proud of me?”

He also lists the Alt-Right’s “values”, which include anti-semitism, “scientific” racism, and opposition to feminism. Again, these are not virtues.

As for “normie”, he also defines a bunch of jargon used by the Alt-Right.

“Normie” is a term used to refer to individuals who have not yet joined the Alt-Right, remaining trapped in the mental-prison of the Jewish system. These people are viewed as being incapable of objectively processing information, and will instead revert to programmed slogans whenever they are presented with ideas that conflict with their synthetic value system.

Says the guy who reflexively responds to dismissals of his hate with cries of “cuck!”

If a quill pen was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, it ought to be good enough for 300 million people in a 21st century nation

Here’s another holdover from the founding fathers: not only do we have a constitutional amendment based on 18th century concepts of firearms, but we’re only allowed to keep track of them with record-keeping practically straight out of colonial America. Our country’s gun registry is a lot of pieces of paper in cardboard boxes, and thanks to the gun lobby, we aren’t allowed to computerize the information.

“It’s a shoestring budget,” says Charlie, who runs the center. “It’s not 10,000 agents and a big sophisticated place. It’s a bunch of friggin’ boxes. All half-ass records. We have about 50 ATF employees. And all the rest are basically the ladies. The ladies that live in West Virginia—and they got a job. There’s a huge amount of labor being put into looking through microfilm.”

I want to ask about the microfilm—microfilm?—but it’s hard to get a word in. He’s already gone three rounds on the whiteboard, scribbling, erasing, illustrating some of the finer points of gun tracing, of which there are many, in large part due to the limitations imposed upon this place. For example, no computer. The National Tracing Center is not allowed to have centralized computer data.

“That’s the big no-no,” says Charlie.

That’s been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No searchable database of America’s gun owners. So people here have to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn over to the feds when requested. It’s kind of like a library in the old days—but without the card catalog. They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name.

Thanks, NRA!

Wait, you can actually destroy someone on the interwebs?

Do you find yourself deeply annoyed by those headlines on Facebook and social media sites that declare that this politician or that scientist DESTROYED their opponent in a debate? It never happens. I’ve been in debates where the consensus is that I ‘won’, or was most informative, or was most difficult to refute, but the opposition usually has some rationalization to salvage their position. You can’t literally ANNIHILATE someone with an argument.

Or can you?

Neil deGrasse Tyson was accused of belittling a 9 year old girl who asked him a question, and one of those conservative talk-radio blowhards, Neal Larsen, made a big deal out of how awful Tyson was. Unfortunately for Larsen, his information came from one of those even more annoying “satirical” news sites (which is another of my pet peeves — I block people who cite those abominations). Larsen was loudly ridiculed for his gullibility.

And then…a miracle! Larsen didn’t give up his radio show, but he has resigned from writing a newspaper column over the exposure.

Larson acknowledged the error in his final op-ed, adding that he apologized to deGrasse Tyson for his mistake. But he also complained about the amount of attention his failed attack received.

“For those in the national spotlight, this is probably old hat, but I wasn’t equipped to handle the influx, logistically or emotionally,” Larson wrote. “If anyone had sent a kind word or more gentle and constructive criticism, I apologize because I probably missed it in the onslaught of hate.”

Aww, poor man. If only someone had given him a cookie, he might have been inspired to soldier on and produce even more bullshit like this, below:

However, Larson will continue broadcasting his radio show. Daily Kos pointed out that he has used it to argue, among other things, that Donald Trump is suited for the presidency because of his “alpha-male” personality, and that the choice of mascot for Washington D.C.’s NFL team is better than “a screaming Black Lives Matter activist, or a finger-snapping drag queen.”

Still, Tyson did manage to shut down a little bit of vileness. Larsen is still babbling on the radio, but he’s not poisoning newspapers anymore, which is a bit of progress.

So maybe Tyson didn’t DESTROY him, but I think we can at least say he was DECIMATED.

Very blue

Sam Harris has recently taken it upon himself to write a speech for Hillary to give, apparently to reassure the neo-cons that she will be sufficiently aggressive in the Middle East to satisfy their blood-thirst. I already think Clinton is too militaristic, so adding Harris’s odious ideas to the mix would make her even more right wing than I can stand. Perhaps David Duke will next write a speech for her on appropriate race relations?

Iris has edited and made additions to his speech to make it a little more humane and sensible (hey, if he is arrogant enough to tell Hillary Clinton what to say, turnabout is fair play). All of her changes and additions are in blue.

It sure takes a lot of blue ink to make Harris palatable. How about if we skip the middle man and make Iris Clinton’s official speechwriter?

Y’all might want to read Sincere Kirabo’s take on Harris’s racism podcast. Are you surprised that Harris made himself look worse?

Harris only regards overt forms of racism as indication of “true” racism. This is why he demarcates racism in such a way (27:04-27:14) that categorizes racists as being “a tiny minority in our society at this point” and the remaining white population as “people of goodwill, and people of moral enlightenment.” He continued to prop up this belief by alleging whites who voted for Obama (27:32) have “cancelled their personal racism” and by using terms (27:38; 30:40) like “real racist.”

Of course this kind of rhetoric is music to the ears of all those who firmly believe intent trumps the presence of attitudes and behaviors ingrained through exposure to our cultural environment. Harris treats the widespread nature of implicit racism as innocuous and demands we reserve the label of “racist” for card-carrying Klansmen, though many of them would also deny being racist. Because, somehow, the adverse influence of racism that effects employment, housing, education, legislation, racial profiling, and mass incarceration are rendered null and void because many who are complicit with or involved in these processes are well-meaning.

Even Rush Limbaugh is aware that people are laughing at him

His latest conspiracy theory: the Left is infiltrating farming with lesbians. I know, that’s ridiculous, and I must be getting this from one of those fake news sites, or the Onion, or something. So I had to triple and quadruple and septuple check that this wasn’t some made-up story. But I knew it had to be true when that unimpeachable source, World Net Daily, confirmed it. Here’s a bit from his radio program.

You sit in there and laugh. Okay, go ahead and laugh at it, but I’m telling you what they’re doing. They are trying to bust up one of the last geographically conservative regions in the country; that’s rural America. Rural America happens to be largely conservative. Rural America is made up of self-reliant, rugged individualist types. They happen to be big believers in the Second Amendment. So here comes the Obama Regime with a bunch of federal money and they’re waving it around, and all you gotta do to get it is be a lesbian and want to be a farmer and they’ll set you up. I’m like you; I never before in my life knew that lesbians wanted to be farmers. I never knew that lesbians wanted to get behind the horse and the plow and start burrowing.

Horse and plow? Burrowing? The lesbian farmers are all looking at you funny for just that, Rush.

I have some information for Rush: Lesbians are people. Some of them might want to farm. Some of them live in rural America. Some of them might want to be scientists, or zookeepers, or bankers, or mothers.

Also, it’s not nice to assume that everyone in rural America is as bigoted as you are, Rush.