Mama Monday: It’s the Mother’s Fault

So, Politico has just the story we need in the contemporary USA: a how-to for blaming everything Trump on a woman.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity—Trump is pretty consistently anti-shrink—but they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations for his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it, his failed marriages and his ill-tempered treatment of women who challenge him. And they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.

Crafty ‘Cubi of Candy Corn! This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?

Oh, yes. Oh yes indeed.

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Do these drugs make me look snarky?

Honestly, I feel like a cheap Wonkette knockoff today. Or maybe I’m just wearing a cheap, plastic-y Wonkette costume from my local party store. Could be either, so I guess I won’t spend too much time on it. Also, too, I don’t much care.

Time to twist open a bottle of wine to help the meds go down easier. Is there a bottle still unpacked? Sauvignon Blanc it is.

I was wondering when John Carlos would show up

John Carlos, the world’s fastest humanitarian, has been relevant to the NFL protests since they began. I probably should have written about him sooner, but the last 2 weeks when things heated up as a result of Trumps douchegabbery I was in the middle of some serious downtime. So now, I’m sad to admit, I’ve been beaten to the punch. Sports Illustrated nabbed an actual interview.

However, that piece is short and just tremendously inadequate. As is too often the case, you’ve got to go to a venue outside of the US in order to get the fuller story of US racism. In this case, I can reasonably recommend Sam Dean’s piece in the Telegraph last year. From that piece:

Carlos was just 23 when he made his stand, and it cost him everything. With his reputation ruined, he struggled to find a job, his children were bullied at school and then, nine tortuous years later, his wife Kim took her own life. By then, their marriage had broken down, and Carlos believes her death was partly the result of the endless interference of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had placed him under constant surveillance since his return to the United States.

“Here’s a guy with income who can support his family,” he says of himself. “And then the next day he has no income and people start to walk away. You go through a process in your mind, thinking about why. Maybe it is because they have no love for me, maybe they don’t like me. But then it dawns on you that they are walking away not because they don’t love you – they are walking away because they fear what is happening to you might happen to them.”

The article praises Carlos as a “horticulturalist” who planted seeds of hope, freedom, justice and activism who has been lucky enough to see many of those seeds sprout. Among those seedlings is a more active cadre of athletes and other anti-racist activists. Yet even before the atrocious and overt blackballing of Kaepernick, the Telegraph had clearly identified major barriers to athletes speaking out (though they focussed on the then-current Rio Olympics):

“The fight is going to go on.”

The question, then, is whether it will be fought by athletes. In this money-spinning era of agents, sponsorship deals and endless proclamations of the importance of “brand values”, it seems the weight of the establishment is heavier than ever.

… Such is the primacy of sports brands in the United States that an athlete’s kit supplier is listed alongside their name on results sheets, and is often read out when they are announced to the crowd before competition.


I had no idea that the Olympics did anything like announcing, “The Nike-wearing Florence Griffith Joyner!” Nonetheless, there are activist-athletes. The Telegraph pointed out in that piece Serena Williams and basketball player Carmelo Anthony. And now we have not merely Kaepernick, but dozens of NFL players, including some at the top of their positions.

Trump is a jerk, a mendacious, malicious, bullying jerk. But in this case there are finally enough NFL players protesting, with enough non-protestors linking arms with the protestors, that maybe the wildly successful Kaepernick will not have to face the same fall and the same later tragedies as the wildly successful young Carlos. And that unity among players has everything to do with having these decisions forced upon them by Trump’s bullying. Many choose not to protest police violence and other racial injustices, but nearly all of those now choose to stand with those who do. Whatever happens to Kaepernick for his 21st Century Mexico City moment, it’s clear that there are now too many players participating in efforts to end racism for the NFL to blackball them all.


*1: Though I haven’t written anything focussed on Carlos, I don’t think, I know I’ve mentioned him in a post before. I’ll have to look up the context.

Everything You Need to Know About US Gun Rights, Part 2

Fast forward several decades and there’s a case called Wickard v Filburn. Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat on the Filburn family property in the state of Ohio to use mostly as animal feed for animals also kept on the property (thought the family also ate a bit of it). To regulate interstate commerce in wheat, the feds had set limits on “personal use” wheat-growing. The theory was that wheat is a fungible commodity: one grain of wheat is fairly interchangeable for nearly any other grain of wheat. So if you’re growing a lot, even if you’re not selling it, that changes the in-state demand for out-of-state wheat. The feds clearly had the power to regulate interstate commerce, but do they have they power to regular entirely in-state activities simply because those activities have an effect on an interstate market?

Well, yes. Yes they do, is what SCOTUS decided.

This decision effectively created a new power of the federal government to regulate local activities. FDR’s administration actively advocated for this power, in part as a response to the Great Depression and the need for coordinated regulations that could revive the national economy as a whole (and also in part on a law-and-order theme that required more police powers to be given to a federal government that had been granted very few), though not all of FDR’s reasoning was so generously based. From the time FDR’s administration entered, he encouraged Congress to pass legislation based on the theory that local action could be regulated to the extent that such regulation or local action has an effect on interstate commerce. In 1934 the National Firearms Act was passed, the first attempt at a comprehensive, federal regulation aimed at firearms. The principal effective language is found here:

[T]he 1st day of July of each year, every importer, manufacturer, and dealer in firearms shall register with the collector of internal revenue for each district in which such business is to be carried on his name or style, principal place of business, and places of business in such district, and pay a special tax …

It shall be unlawful for any person required to register under the provisions of this section to import, manufacture, or deal firearms without having registered and paid the tax imposed by this section …

There were also some provisions dealing with the sale/transfer of firearms by persons not dealing in firearms as a business, but those were decidedly secondary to the above.

Note that this does not attempt to control firearms in any sense other than an economic market: the federal government, under the prevailing understanding of the time, had no ability to control guns per se. Nor could this constitutional innovation of the 1930s have been predicted in 1789: it was entirely novel and quite radical in its day, not a logical outgrowth of conventional constitutional understandings common amongst the first Framers.

In this sense a right against the federal government to bear arms is nonsensical and the 2A is utterly irrelevant. Almost 150 years after the constitution’s initial passage and the feds still don’t have inherent authority to enact gun control? Again, this substantiates the argument that the 2A was never about providing a right against federal regulation. But if we understand that the original 1787 Constitution was a federal document and was not seen as possessing any power to regulate relationships to which the federal government was not a party (state/individual relationships being the most relevant here) then the 2A is further cemented as a regulation on the state/federal relationship by the elimination of the possibility of any federal/individual regulation.

But we’re not done yet with the Commerce Clause. In 1995 the case US v Lopez decided the question of how analogous Filburn’s wheat-growing could be said to be with (Lopez’s) gun possession. The answer is that the two are not analogous, or at least not sufficiently analogous to justify congressional regulation of gun possession. While it is obvious that someone with a need for wheat who then grows some will buy less, there is no obvious impact on general commerce likely to cross state lines that is created by the simple possession of a firearm.

Justice Breyer argued that the Filburn reasoning implies looking at cumulative impact of all similar actions. After all, the fluctuations in demand for wheat within an entire state are such that Filburn’s wheat growing alone would not have changed intrastate demand for wheat. It would be a mere rounding error in the amount of wheat needed, representing just a bit more wheat imported that might go to waste but that intrastate dealers would need to have on hand anyway in case it was needed by customers. Thus, cumulative impact should be considered, and here it’s clear that all of the people in Ohio, grouped together, who grew some wheat on private property for private use would ultimately reap a crop substantial enough to affect the orders placed across state lines by Ohio dealers. Breyer argued that the behavior at issue in Lopez (gun possession within a certain distance of a school) could easily said to have an effect on interstate commerce simply by noting that the total impact of all gun possession on or near school grounds has an effect on education. Violence in schools is associated with poorer grades and standardized test scores and can be logically explained as one result caused by the distractions imposed by normal fears that occur in the presence of significant dangers … such as the dangers created by the presence of firearms. For Breyer this logical chain could justify the constitutionality of the underlying statute, but his view did not persuade the court.

Note again that the court is not here deciding that the provisions of the 2A trump legitimate constitutional action. The court here is stating that Congress had no right to regulate gun possession in the first place! If, in fact, Congress had had such a right from a power other than the Commerce Clause, the court would have had to determine the extent to which such a right was infringed by the law and whether such infringement was permissible. The court did not engage such a test because it simply wasn’t necessary.

But if Congress had no right to regulate gun possession from 1787 right through 1995, then, again, what the hell was the 2A supposed to be doing in a document spelling out the powers, limits, and relationships of the federal government?

Again, it was regulating a relationship between the states and the feds. That’s it. That’s all. It’s not a mystery. What it is to present-day folks is confusing. We’re confused because the horror of slavery was so extreme that the nation as a whole came together and gave the feds the right to regulate the state/individual relationship.

Now that this ability of the feds to interfere in the state/individual relationship is taken for granted, people have forgotten that this wasn’t taken for granted when the federal constitution was written in 1787 and the 2A in 1789. Nonetheless, this was a distinction made and it was the common understanding in the late-18th century context within which the 2A was drafted, passed, and ratified. We can’t change that now.

Part 3 in the works.

For Your Enjoyment: Netflix’s Countdown Clock is running

So, I’m always busy with something, and though I may consume too much mindless entertainment given the great needs of my family, friends, and communities, I clearly did not consume enough mindless entertainment to notice that Marvel’s The Defenders is almost here.

I did notice when I had an hour this afternoon and sat down with my kid to watch an episode of the Worst Witch (an engaging if not-too-original story about a girl who didn’t know she was a witch until her tweens when suddenly she finds herself flying to Witch School on a broom.

But when I logged in, I was met with a countdown timer to The Defenders’ release at midnight tonight. Ooh, I can’t wait. Trailers below if you’ve not yet seen them:

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While one might think innaccuracies are merely truthful statements by any Ibis, Ramada or Motel 6 employee, the Trump administration clearly had something else in mind:. Criticizing the Congressional Budget Office’s competence, the White House released a video with voice over text. The text reads, in part:

CBO innaccurately estimated 25 million would be covered under Obamacare…

The mind. It boggles.

On the plus side, Trump promised to add jobs and irony meter manufacturers and repair shops have been going gangbusters for over a year now, with demand only continuing to increase. Gotta give Trump credit where credit is due, and I don’t think anyone has ever had an effect on the irony meter industry that’s anywhere near that of Trump.

Dairy Cows and Professional Republicans

I see quite a lot in common between those two. Both of them create a whole lot of product every day, and there’s a great deal of people in the US who find the products of both quite appealing.

But it is sure as heck true that there are a great many people that find those products hard to digest, and although you might not like the fact, it’s not a sampling error nor mere vagaries of individual preference when studies show that both go down easier with some ethnic groups and not others.

A Boot Stamping On a Martian Face

While we all know that Mike Pence is a complete jerkwad for touching expensive things he clearly has no business touching (…and for a few hundred thousand other things…) what has been largely missed in the otherwise excellent coverage is the message he actually came to NASA to give.

Pence gave a speech – before proving his ignorance and/or rejection of the concept of consent – promising all of us that Trump was going to make NASA great again.

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