Monday, September 26, 2016

Houston ‘Active Shooter, Active Shootee’ Incident

Some of you may have seen this incident on your local news; if not, you'll surely see it on your national news.

It's one thing to read/view a story about an active shooter incident in a somewhat upscale residential and commercial neighborhood, the shooting focused first on a very nice condo, then on a tidy strip center with nice stores and a post office. It's another thing altogether to have a direct association with the place, though not with the incident.

I once considered it as a place to live, but the prices were beyond my means. Nonetheless, Stella and I have a pair of PO boxes at the post office in the aforementioned strip center, both boxes left over from our respective independent-contractor days. Stella headed out to work this morning with our rent checks to mail. But her car refused to start: we had to call AAA and buy a new battery.

The delay may have saved Stella's life.

A lawyer whose firm was failing financially filled his Porsche with a lot of guns (yes, he owned and carried them all legally), parked outside the very nice condo which apparently contained his home, took a position behind a large tree, unpacked several guns (handguns and rifles including, it is believed, a semiautomatic) and plenty of ammo and clips... and started shooting. At anyone. People he didn't know. People who just happened to be on the street before sunrise, on the way to work, or taking their kids to school. People driving cars: the shooter pointed straight at their windshields, and once those were shattered, directly in the faces of their drivers and/or passengers. Several neighbors risked their lives, not merely to call 911 but to inform their neighbors face-to-face... yes, the shooter was firing through the windows of his neighbors' condos... that they needed to GET DOWN within their homes, below window level, immediately.

Police and firefighters were quick to respond, literally dozens of cars full of them, equipped with robots on the chance that the crazy was distributing bombs. The neighborhood was basically cordoned off as a crime scene; traffic is still being routed around the area, and residents are observing an obligatory shelter-in-place.

Amazingly, as of the time I began writing this post, none of the victims had died, though one was in critical condition and another in serious condition. It's a good thing Houston has a lot of fine hospitals, which in turn have personnel well-trained in emergency response.

Both of us are safe and well, not even as shaken as people who were actually in the middle of the incident.

I read this week in The Guardian that "half of all guns in the US are owned by 3% of Americans." IMNSHO this is more than a mere statistic; it's a substantive fact regarding gun ownership: no one really needs 17 guns (that's the average among the 3% of gun owners who own half of all individually owned guns) for any legal, sane, societally nondestructive purpose. My farmer Granddad owned two shotguns and two rifles; he and my Dad and I had plenty of guns to go hunting together (I hated that activity), with one to spare if Mom, should she choose to participate. (Do not mock my mother's skills with a firearm! She might return from the grave to haunt you!)

Is it too much to ask that the 3% who own half the guns come in once a year and re-qualify in the use of those weapons? Is it too much to ask that every few years they come in for a psychological screening to show that they still understand the social limitations on the uses of such firepower? Is it too much to restrict automatic and rapid-fire weapons to use by military personnel and police? The 2nd Amendment assures you the right to "keep and bear" arms as part of "[a] well-regulated militia," but I still haven't seen the clause that permits you to use them to shoot your fellow citizens dead because you had a bad day at the office.

Remember: the 2nd Amendment was intended to protect the freedom and personal safety of the citizenry. Modern firearms, used as they are being used in real life in America today, are not contributing at all to that goal.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Get this. The name of the street full of condos is... Law. Oh, the irony!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Guardian Offers ‘Lyin' Trump: A Weekly Fact Check’

I just discovered this series this week, but I can tell already that it is going to save all of us a great deal of googling/reading/transcribing in pursuit of the Donald's endless lies:
‘Lyin' Trump: A Weekly Fact Check’.
Good luck; keep your antacid supply handy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

‘I Just Don’t Think She Has A Presidential Look’

That's Donald, speaking of Hillary. Personally, I think Donald DOES have a presidential look... think of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, for example, crank down the charm by about 10 percent, and you've got Trump.

But that's not my real point. My real point is that Trump evaluates women entirely by their physical appearance. His wife... er, wives... are good evidence of that: not that any one of them is stupid, but all of them are attention-getting for their looks alone. So the statement that Hillary lacks "a presidential look" means exactly two things:
  • she is not male, and
  • she does not meet Trump's standard of femininity.
Go figure... when Hillary was First Lady, my father used to remark on her good looks. But what part of a president's toolkit is her looks, anyway? My mother was bright and articulate from my earliest memories, but I have pics of her in her young adult years, and she was striking... it's no surprise my father went for the whole package, brains, looks, speaking ability, writing ability, etc. (Occasionally, perhaps just to prove a point, Mom would tune the family car. Farm girls often acquire skills like that, though in her case I think it was probably the tractor she tuned.) But Trump clearly evaluates women with one thing in mind. What a schmuck that man is.

A reminder for poll-watching voters. Lately the big three broadcasting networks have been saying that Trump and Clinton are in a dead heat, statistically tied, use your own favorite phrase (but please... not "neck and neck"). Before you believe that statement in its usual sense, go read; it's on this site's blogroll. You'll find the networks are cherry-picking the polls they average, and rotten-apple-tossing the tweaked results at you. If you can put aside their "methodology" (heh) for long enough to see what Nate Silver & Co. are saying, you'll see Hillary is still several points in the lead... and noticeably more likely to win the office. This does not mean she or her supporters can afford to be complacent, but neither is it time for them to tear their hair out.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Follow-Up: Trump Asks ‘Is There Something Wrong’ With Calling Obama ‘Founder Of ISIS?’
Does Trump Suffer Alzheimer's?
Is Trump FAKING Alzheimer's?

Be forewarned: my speculation at the conclusion of this post is 1) no sure thing, but if true, 2) as sad as sad can be.

Here's Caitlin MacNeal at TPM again:
Donald Trump on Thursday morning refused to back down from his Wednesday night claim that President Obama is the "founder of ISIS."

"He was the founder of ISIS, uh, absolutely," Trump said on CNBC's "Squawkbox" when asked if it was "appropriate" to say that Obama founded a terrorist organization.

And later in the interview, Trump seemed confused as to why he was asked whether his comments were appropriate.

"Is there something wrong with saying that? Why? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?" he asked.

I can only shake my head, shed a tear, and wonder... here's the speculation... whether Mr. Trump is entering the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

I am not an MD, let alone a psychiatrist. But I do have some close experience with Alzheimer's disease: my late mother, may she rest in peace, suffered Alzheimer's for about two years before she died, presumably of complications of the brain damage that dread disease causes.

I am not especially the praying type, and I confess I detested Mr. Trump up to the moment I saw his possible affliction. But if that is the cause of his nonsensical pronouncements, he is more to be pitied than loathed, and he and his family deserve our prayers. For me, that's going to be a difficult transition: I wouldn't wish Alzheimer's disease on my worst enemy. For his sake, I hope I am wrong, and Trump is merely a power-mad nutjob.

But if Trump is showing the early signs of SDAT, he must not be allowed to take control of the world's most powerful office. I don't know what the provisions are, if any, for a president who becomes unfit to serve even before he is elected, but if the problem is in fact Alzheimer's, then Trump would become, long before the end of a single presidential term, incapable of even minimally adequate service as president.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

AFTERTHOUGHT: It is just barely possible he is faking dementia. That's harder to do than you might imagine, so it's unlikely. Besides, what possible motivation could a candidate for high office have for faking a mind-destroying illness?

AFTERTHOUGHT: The nature of a person with early Alzheimer's is not entirely predictable, of course, but my mother talked about individuals who obviously did not exist and events that clearly never occurred. These persons and events were as real to her as if the persons did exist and the events had happened. There was no use trying to talk her out of seeing them; they were as real to her as... well, as Obama's founding of ISIS apparently is to Donald Trump.

FINAL THOUGHT: Nah. I saw him on the evening news last night, and he didn't act like someone with dementia. Trump is playing us all for suckers. If Americans let him get away with it, we're all fv<ked. Trump is willing to destroy America in order to own America, goddamn him.

Trump: Obama Is ‘Founder Of ISIS’; Hillary Is ‘Co-Founder’

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM:
During a rant about the Middle East at a Wednesday night rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Donald Trump called President Obama the "founder of ISIS."

“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama,” Trump said. “He’s the founder of ISIS. He founded ISIS. And I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton.”

I'd say Trump's campaign is beginning to, uh, founder.

But seriously, folks... how could Trump believe that? or is this just another of his off-the-cuff remarks aimed at the most ignorant of his base, a remark that, if Trump were president, could endanger every American?

I am not in the habit of advocating formal psychological sanity testing for presidential candidates, but I hope someone in Clinton's campaign is tasked with assembling all these full-blown-batsh!t-crazy Trump clips into pithy campaign ads. Forget about Trump's base; members of the American public who don't pay attention need to understand just how fv<king crazy he is before they elect him president.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sell Texas, Live In Hell

According to the local ABC station, Houston's heat index high yesterday was 116°F. Today is forecast to be similar.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trump Hints To Gun Nuts: Assassinate Hillary

This just came out in The Guardian:
Donald Trump has hinted at the assassination of Hillary Clinton by supporters of gun rights.

The Republican nominee was speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, about the next president’s power to appoint supreme court justices. “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” he said, adding: “Although the second amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know.

The second amendment to the constitution protects the right of Americans to bear arms. Trump has accused his Democratic rival of wanting to abolish it, a charge that she denies.

“This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.

This is getting out of hand. Republicans: when are you going to remove this reckless sociopath from the top of your ticket?

Robert Reich Vs. Chris Hedges On How Bernie Sanders Supporters Should Vote

Robert Reich, who was Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor working for progressive reform in spite of most of what Bill himself believed, debates reporter and activist Chris Hedges, on Democracy Now! Here's the short version:

Hedges: vote for the Green candidate because there's no substantive difference between Trump and Hillary.

Reich: vote for Hillary because there would be a chance under her presidency to continue the political revolution Bernie started, while a President Trump would have a real opportunity (e.g., through judicial appointments) to establish the actual fascist state that Hedges is rightly worried about.

Bates: does no one remember Nader the Spoiler? A vote for the Green presidential candidate is virtually always a de facto vote for the Republican candidate, and if you're reading this site, you probably agree with me that a Republican in the White House is always a catastrophe for America.

I used to admire Hedges, and there is still much to admire in his person and his political philosophy, but I have to list him as one more lefty who is willing to sacrifice America to save America. Sorry; I'm not that kind of lefty.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

David Cay Johnston...

... knows a lot of facts about the evil man of the hour, and reveals more than a few of them in his book, The Making of Donald Trump. If you can't get a hold of the book (or on the book; HPL is taking its time responding to my hold request) right away, at least read Kathy Kiely's review at ... I have a lot of respect for Johnston, and when he lets rip with flames like those described in Kiely's review, you can expect your hair to be singed.

(Speaking of hair, is it a coincidence that Johnston's hair and beard look very much like mine? Probably wishful thinking on my part.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

So Much For A 'Public Trial'...

AP via The Guardian UK:

[US district judge Gonzalo Curiel]’s refusal to release video of Donald Trump testifying in a lawsuit about the now defunct Trump University denies critics of the Republican presidential nominee a chance to use potentially powerful images against him.

Transcripts of Trump’s depositions have been released over the past few months but videos remained sealed. ...
Read the article for more about what the videos show. This is not a criminal action against Trump; it is a lawsuit, so the Sixth Amendment may not apply. But the judge who is hearing the suit is the one Trump criticized for his "Mexican heritage," and it seems to me Trump owes him an apology. Fat chance of that!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Since Khan-Trump Exchange, Constitution Becomes Bestseller

Too bad I won't be rushing out to buy one; I've had a pocket copy since 1976, though it's missing one amendment. I keep it in the bed headboard, along with a book-sized copy annotated by Linda Monk.

And yes, Lyin' Donald, you can bet your fat ass I've read it, all the way through perhaps a half dozen times over the years, and individual pieces of it several times a month as issues arise.

Oh, and Scott Bixby tweeted (see last graf at Guardian link above), "Donald Trump mocks Hillary Clinton for wanting to build schools, declares he wants to build a $100 million ballroom for the White House." Hmm. I wouldn't have thought Donald Trump's balls required all that much room. Maybe that's his brains I'm thinking of...

Trump Says He Is 'Afraid The [General] Election's Gonna Be Rigged'

What can I say... no one is better positioned than Trump to know whether the election is being rigged.

Apparently Trump intends to challenge the general election. If he does, I want the results of the 2000 [S]Election reopened and challenged as well: I'm still angry enough to want to see (especially) Dick Cheney in prison, and I wouldn't cry if James Baker saw bars as well...

Trump & Co.'s Relationship To Truth: Always Tell It? Never Tell It? Neither: They Say Whatever They Want, With Utter Indifference To Whether It Is True

They can talk about "Lyin' Hillary" all they want, but every new article on Trump's (or any Trump surrogate's) response to criticism reveals their utter indifference to whether that criticism is true or... and this is my complaint... whether their response contains any shred of truth. Katherine Krueger at TPM:

Amid Donald Trump's ongoing attacks on the family of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American solider who was killed fighting in Iraq, a number of his supporters latched onto a conspiracy theory that Khan's father is a "Muslim Brotherhood agent" and his son was on an "Islamist mission."

The execrable Roger Stone is apparently involved with this, but Trump himself is no better: he would speak any nasty fiction about an American hero if he thought it would gain him a quarter point in any poll.

Trump hasn't yet figured out that a lie to the public has to be breathtakingly big for the public to react, "Surely he wouldn't say that if it weren't true!" His succession of little lies only increases public mistrust of the man, and proves what a deep-seated bastard he is.

The Khans do not deserve this, but I am sure Trump doesn't give a flying fv<k...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GOP Adviser Resurrects 2008 ‘Lock-And-Load’ Meme

Josh Marshall voices his concern over the Trump campaign's winking at staffers' and other RWNJs' threats to murder Hillary Clinton. His specific example is the ranting of New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, an adviser to the Trump campaign on veterans' affairs, who, speaking recently on a RWNJ talk show, said of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, "[Clinton] should be put in the firing line and shot for treason" for her actions regarding Benghazi.

Marshall's primary concern is that Trump and company are "wink-winking" at campaign staffers and spokespeople who make such threats, thus implicitly advocating the assassination of his opponent. One spokesperson for the campaign (see first article linked above) said, "We’re incredibly grateful for [Baldasaro's] support, but we don’t agree with his comments." Wink-wink, indeed; I fully agree with Marshall's assessment of the intended message, and of its direly unacceptable nature.

The only thing Marshall omits (as far as I can tell) is that THIS IS NOT NEW BEHAVIOR FOR THE GOP IN A PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Surely other Democrats remember Sarah Palin's repeated exhortations to "[l]ock and load," delivered to audiences full of gun-toting Republicans more concerned with their personal right to carry than anyone else's right to stay alive.

This is a trend. This is the second consecutive presidential election in which a candidate or his/her surrogates has urged a Republican audience to exercise their Second Amendment right by threatening (at least) to shoot an opposing candidate, or opposing voters, or anyone they don't like the looks of. THE GOP HAS BECOME THE PARTY OF VIOLENCE DIRECTED AGAINST ITS POLITICAL OPPONENTS. I cannot put an end to the threats, but I damned surely can voice my objection to them. America is in theory a representative democracy; WE DO NOT SETTLE DISPUTES ABOUT LEADERSHIP BY MURDERING POLITICAL OPPONENTS. PERIOD!

I am somewhat relieved to see that the Secret Service is investigating Rep. Baldasaro about his naked threat against Secy. Clinton... not that I really expect them to do anything about it, but at least they are making some noises that they will take an "appropriate" action. It's not much, and it won't save Mrs. Clinton from a Glock-toting RWNJ, but it's better than nothing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

GOP National Convention Starts Today, Monday...

... but a quick flip of the remote will transport me to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

♪ Would you be my neighbor? ♪ And honestly: which of these two would you welcome in your neighborhood?

Each of them lives in his own land of make-believe; the difference is that Daniel Tiger admits it upfront.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pounds For Trump, Pence For Indigent Women And All LGBTs

Trump is about to choose Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.

Should you care?
  • If you are an American woman of childbearing age, especially one who doesn't have the money for reproductive healthcare, you have a strong financial interest in Pence and his unconcealed efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • If you are an LGBT American, you have a deep interest in Pence's efforts to pass the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow business owners to refuse to serve LGBTs on religious grounds. (He signed such a law, later mitigated slightly, but if he were the Veep instead of a state governor, he would surely push for a law on the national level. Never forget what President, uh, I mean, Vice President Dick Cheney managed to ram through when second to a president about as incompetent as Trump would be.)
  • If you can remember the roaring 1990s, remember that Pence was then a right-wing radio talk show host, known by some people as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf."
Trump has made his first presidential decision, and it couldn't be a worse decision if he tried. Never forget it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton For President

My head and my heart are both with Bernie Sanders... but Bernie is no longer running for president.

We surely owe Bernie a debt of gratitude for what he accomplished both in influencing Secy. Clinton's policy positions on a great number of issues and in using his five members of the Democratic Party's Platform Committee to embed those improved positions as planks in the platform. Many of us had serious hopes that, in the process, Sen. Sanders would amass enough convention delegates to win the nomination himself. That hope has since been dashed, and Sanders has taken the sensible step of withdrawing from the race and formally endorsing Secy. Clinton for president. That alone is reason to consider, seriously, voting for her.

But you all know there's another reason for doing so: clearly our nation's next president will be either Hillary Clinton or... wince... Donald Trump. No third candidate has a remote chance, and Sanders, unlike (say) Ralph Nader, understands the folly of a third-party run.

So as the slogan goes, I'm with her. The YDDV endorses Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Do some reading about her; we could do much worse... we could, for example, end up with the DT without even taking a drink.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cat's Paws

I started out looking for my speaker wires, lost since our move seven or eight years ago, so that I could set up the one stereo in the house that can connect with my decent turntable. That task proving hopeless, I switched to searching YouTube for a particular piece from the Glogauer Liederbuch, a set of 13th-century partbooks with some truly charming ensemble works including this one, called Die Katzenpfote, which in my playing days I had the pleasure of playing many times and actually performing a couple of times.

Here are four settings by several different ensembles; the third one probably most resembles our performances:

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes