Trump’s white supremacist allies put his Republican enablers in a bind, again

The Republican party is in a dance with death with its leader Donald Trump, as he keeps going further and further in his ties with the worst elements of American politics, consisting of racists, misogynists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. His dinner with Nick Fuentes and Kanye West/Ye has forced even the more servile members of the party criticize him.

House and Senate Republicans are speaking out against former President Donald Trump’s dinner last week with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.

“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “And anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States.”

The leaders’ reactions to the dinner came a day after former Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump should apologize for even sitting down with Fuentes.

“Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and Holocaust denier a seat at the table,” Pence said in an interview with News Nation Now. “And I think he should apologize for it, and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification.”

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Same-sex and inter-racial marriages get an extra layer of protection

The US Supreme Court has said that bans on same-sex marriage and inter-racial marriage are both unconstitutional. So why did the US Senate yesterday by a 61-36 vote pass the Respect for Marriage Act that protects what seemed to be already legal? It is because the overturning of the Roe v. Wade precedent that gave constitutional protection to abortions had created fears that the current US Supreme Court might overturn those other hard-won freedoms as well. Justice Clarence Thomas has openly voiced his disagreement with the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

All Democrats voted in favor of this bill, and it was supported by 12 Republicans. The House of Representatives will now have to pass a similar measure so that Joe Biden can sign it into law.

While the bill would not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage.

So, in the event the Supreme Court might overturn its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage, a state could still pass a law to ban same-sex marriage, but that state would be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.

That is a good move. It is disappointing that 36 Republican senators voted against it.

A much-needed takedown of Musk, Zuckerberg, and SBF

Readers may recall Adam Conover as the genial host of the TV series Adam Ruins Everything where in each episode he debunks popular myths and misconceptions. In one episode on the myths about the Copernican revolution, he used my research into that topic to make his case.

In a new podcast, he channels Jonathan Pie to deliver a blistering attack on Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Bankman-Fried (the founder of the now bankrupt crypto exchange FTX). He discusses the failures of these so-called geniuses and says that they represent much that is wrong with our society, that we tend to uncritically accept the grandiose claims of people with ordinary abilities. He says that there are many people who are frauds like these three, privileged and incompetent, children of wealthy parents who attended Ivy league schools and claim to be able to change the world, when they are merely people who just got lucky at one point in their lives and then were able to fool enough people to buy their bullshit and get fawning coverage from the media and the moneyed classes.

A presidential ticket for the ages

The political commentariat in the US is agog with a report of Donald Trump hosting a dinner at Mar-a-Lago for notorious white supremacist, misogynist, and anti-Semite Nick Fuentes and notorious nutcase and anti-Semite Kanye West aka Ye. Trump was apparently highly taken with Fuentes who flattered him by apparently being familiar with Trump’s speeches. When Trump said that he disliked the teleprompters that his advisors wanted him to use at his rallies in order to sound more presidential, Fuentes said that he liked it when Trump ad-libbed. His flattery seemed to work when Trump turned to Ye and said, “I really like this guy. He gets me.”

Trump, of course, loves anybody who fawns over him, however unsavory they may be. This has become such a well-known fact about his personality that everyone seeking his favors does it once they gain access to him. Trump seems to not be aware, or perhaps care, if they are being sincere or cynically exploiting this weakness. Such a character flaw requires a person to be surrounded by gatekeepers who will block such people from getting close to him but in Trump’s case, they seem to be ineffective.
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FIFA + Qatar = A marriage made in hell

FIFA, the controlling body of international football, has long been known to be utterly corrupt. The nation of Qatar has an appalling record on human rights including ,the criminalizing of homosexuality, brutal treatment of its migrant labor force, and violations of free speech rights among others. So when in 2010 FIFA selected Qatar as the host nation for the 2022 tournament despite its manifest unsuitability (for starters, the temperatures can rise to very high levels in the summers), there were immediate suspicions that bribery had been involved, with the Qatari rulers seeking to get good publicity by hosting this major international sporting event.

This article goes into great depth on the sordid history of FIFA and Qatar.
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Sarah Palin loses again

One of the last races for the House of Representatives has been called, that for the single congressional seat in Alaska. Democrat Mary Peltola beat Sarah Palin by 55% to 45%, a larger margin than the 3% margin in the special election held in August. Alaskan elections have an open primary in which people of all parties compete and the top four then move on the general election which is decided by ranked-choice voting of the four candidates. Peltola came close to getting 49% of first preference votes and thus would still have won if the election were decided by a plurality. The details of how the preferential votes were cast can be seen here.
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Tough turkeys

I am always interested in news reports of aggressive turkeys, like this one about a town in Massachusetts where some aggressive turkeys have made residents fearful.

People in Woburn, north-west of Boston, have been subjected to a barrage of attacks and intimidation by a group of five wild turkeys, with the situation forcing some to take up improvised weapons and residents reporting being trapped in their homes.

The turkeys, led by a male bird nicknamed Kevin, arrived two years ago. Initially the birds were docile, but as time passed they have become ever more pugnacious, leaving Woburners fearful for their safety and forced to adapt their behavior.

“They don’t let you out of your house,” said Meaghan Tolson, who lives in Woburn and has named the turkeys.

“They peck at cars, they stop traffic. They go after kids on bikes. If you’re walking or jogging, or anything like that, they come for you.”

Another article describes how this is a growing problem in many towns as the wild turkey population grows.

The reason for my interest is because of my own bad experiences with wild turkeys that I described here, here, and here. My actions in the face of those turkeys were, to put it charitably, less than heroic and so it made me feel better to realize that my own cowardly behavior when confronted with what are essentially overgrown chickens was not that uncommon. It appears that wild turkeys can cause serious injuries so avoidance and defensive behavior is advised.

Move Thanksgiving to October

Today is Thanksgiving day in the US, the day when families and friends get together to share a traditional meal. There is some controversy over the holiday but what I am concerned about here is the date. The date of the holiday has changed over time, sometimes for purely commercial reasons.

From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date of observance varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. … Modern Thanksgiving was proclaimed for all states in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln [who] … set national Thanksgiving by proclamation for the final Thursday in November.

On October 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday to the next to last Thursday in November in an effort to boost the economy.[36] The earlier date created an extra seven days for Christmas shopping since at that time retailers never began promoting the Christmas season until after Thanksgiving. But making the proclamation so close to the change wreaked havoc on the holiday schedules of many people, schools, and businesses, and most Americans were not in favor of the change. Some of those who opposed dubbed the holiday “Franksgiving” that year. Some state governors went along with the change while others stuck with the original November 30 date for the holiday, and three states — Colorado, Mississippi, and Texas — observed both dates. The double Thanksgiving continued for two more years, and then on December 26, 1941, Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the official national Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November starting in 1942.

Since nowadays retailers have started promoting Christmas well before Thanksgiving, the rationale for keeping it as the fourth Thursday in November no longer exists and the dates of the two holidays can be decoupled.

I argue that it would make more sense to shift Thanksgiving to (say) the fourth Thursday in October. There are several advantages for such a shift. A big one is that this is one of the biggest travel periods of the year and the weather is much milder in October, making travel much less risky. There have been many Thanksgiving horror stories where massive snowstorms have shut down airports, grounded flights, and created hazardous driving conditions leaving many people stranded and utterly miserable. Another reason is that currently there is a long stretch of time, between the Labour Day holiday on the first Monday in September and Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November, where there are no holidays. Having a holiday in October would provide a nicer break. Finally, Christmas is also a big family holiday and currently Christmas comes quickly after Thanksgiving, too quickly in my opinion.

So that’s my case for shifting Thanksgiving to October.

Violent crime dropped rapidly after elections!

Not really. It is just that right wing media suddenly loses interest in the story once it is no longer useful to scare their voter base into thinking that Democrats are ‘soft on crime’. But you can expect coverage of violent crime to rise again just before the 2024 elections, irrespective of the actual data.

While mass shootings like the two that occurred this week naturally get a lot of attention, violent crime in general in every major category has been on a steep decline since the early 1990s.