Monday ReadsPosted: January 9, 2017
I’m going to try to put up some interesting links prior to the “you’ll never guess what the Corrupt Russian Puppet is doing now” stories. Believe me, ethics in Washington DC are headed for an all time nadir and that’s saying a lot.
One of the giant sequoias that has graced postcards and family photos for well over a century has fallen. Pioneer Cabin Tree–known for being a “drive through”–likely fell when record levels of rain flooded the area.
It’s not clear why the tree fell, but probably had to do with the giant sequoia’s shallow root system — the roots only go about two or four feet deep — and the fact that the trail around the tree was flooded due to rain.
“When I went out there (Sunday afternoon), the trail was literally a river, the trail is washed out,” Allday said. “I could see the tree on the ground, it looked like it was laying in a pond or lake with a river running through it.”
The tree had been among the most popular features of the state park since the late 1800s. The tunnel had graffiti dating to the 1800s, when visitors were encouraged to etch their names into the bark.
Joan Allday, wife of Jim Allday and also a volunteer at the park, said the tree had been weakening and leaning severely to one side for several years.
“It was barely alive, there was one branch alive at the top,” she said. “But it was very brittle and starting to lift.”
Yosemite has flooded and three have been killed.
Meryl Streep stormed the Golden Globes with a political speech that has now become a T-Rump twitter obsession.
Meryl Streep received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, and she slammed Donald Trump’s “performance” in her acceptance speech.
“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts,” she said tearfully and with a faint voice upon accepting the career-spanning honor.
She echoed Hugh Laurie’s comment about how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is part of “the most vilified segments in American society right now” — Hollywood, foreigners and the press. “But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway? It’s just a bunch of people from other places,” she explained, outlining her New Jersey upbringing, plus the non-Los Angeles backgrounds of Sarah Paulson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Ruth Negga, Viola Davis, Dev Patel and Ryan Reynolds. She asked sarcastically, “Where are their birth certificates?”
Streep then noted that one “performance” stood out this year: that of Donald Trump when he publicly mockedThe New York Times‘ Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter. “There was nothing good about it, but it did its job,” she said. “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out my head because it wasn’t in a movie; it was in real life. That instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same.”
Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” she continued. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”
After stressing the importance for the press to stand up to Trump — “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage … We’re going to need them going forward and they’re going to need us to safeguard the truth,” she said of journalists — Streep concluded her speech by quoting Carrie Fisher: “As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, ‘Take your broken heart, make it into art.’ “
White House Mommy has taken to the air waves to once again whine “Leave him alone! Leave Twitler alone!!!” As for Twitler, Streep hit all the right little buttons.
Here’s an interesting bit of information on Margaret Wise Brown who wrote “Goodnight Moon”.
When she graduated from college, Brown worked at the Greenwich Village progressive Bank Street Cooperative School, which sought a more child-centric approach to teaching. Here, Brown discovered her gift for engaging children under the age of 5 with her prose. She contributed to the school’s textbooks and published stories under the school’s literary arm. Soon after she sold her first manuscript to a major publisher.
The ideas came quickly. “The Runaway Bunny,” for example, popped in Brown’s head while she was skiing — she wrote the whole story, start to finish, on her ski receipt. Perhaps because it all came so easily, she spent her money with an almost pathological frivolity. She bought the entire contents of a flower cart with her first advance check and sold full rights to a story to buy a gray fox coat.
Despite her growing success, she harbored a deep insecurity about her career and wished to write “real” literature.
“I hope to write something serious one day as soon as I have something to say. But I am stuck in my childhood, and that raises the devil when one wants to move on,” she said.
And like many of the great children’s authors (Roald Dahl and Maurice Sendak come to mind), she had a conflicted relationship with her young fans. She told a Life reporter in 1946, “I don’t especially like children . . . At least not as a group. I won’t let anybody get away with anything just because he’s little.”
Brown never married or had children and didn’t seem to bemoan that fact. In a letter to her college alumni newspaper in 1945, she wrote derisively: “How many children have you? I have 50 books.”
Politico has an indepth story on a man with much experience with Nuclear Arms threats. Former Defense Secretary Bill Perry believes were more at risk today than ever before.
“I finally thought by the end of the ‘80s we lived through this horrible experience and it’s behind us,” Perry said. “When I was secretary, I fully believed it was behind us.”
After leaving the Pentagon, he accepted an assignment from Clinton to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear development program—and seemed agonizingly close to a breakthrough as the last days of the president’s term expired.
Now, he sees his grandchildren inheriting a planet possibly more dangerous than it was during his public career. No one could doubt that the Sept. 11 terrorists would have gladly used nuclear bombs instead of airplanes if they had had them, and it seems only a matter of time until they try. Instead of a retreating threat in North Korea, that fanatical regime now possesses as many as eight nuclear bombs, and is just one member of a growing nuclear club. Far from a new partnership with Russia, Vladimir Putin has given old antagonisms a malevolent new face. American policymakers talk of spending up to $1 trillion to modernize the nuclear arsenal. And now comes Donald Trump with a long trail of statements effectively shrugging his shoulders about a world newly bristling with bombs and people with reasons to use them.
Jeffrey Frank asks “WHAT IF A PRESIDENT LOSES CONTROL?” while writing for the New Yorker.
There’s no need to dwell on the particular character of Trump, who will be sworn in on January 20th. But it is worth examining what remedies exist if any President is too careless, inattentive, or impulsive to deal sensibly with questions affecting the nation’s survival. What could be done if a President behaves in a way that directly threatens to turn the planet into radioactive dust? And who could do it? Or, to rephrase that for a super-partisan era, who would be brave enough even to cross party lines, if taking that step were required to stop someone who, acting on a whim or in a tantrum, seemed ready to start a nuclear war? It might not take much to arrive in such a scenario; after all, it didn’t take much, recently, for Pakistan’s defense minister, reacting to a loony fake-news dispatch, to threaten nuclear retaliation against Israel.
The Constitution does provide certain remedies, foremost among them being impeachment, though that requires a high crime or misdemeanor, a House bill, a Senate trial. But there is another path, also complicated, and possibly impractical. President Obama, the other day, addressed some of the charming creakiness that the Founders left for their descendants, such as the compromise that gives equal senatorial representation to California, with thirty-eight million people, and to Wyoming, with little more than a half-million. That disproportionate inheritance is not likely to be changed, just as the Electoral College is unlikely to be changed—at least not any time soon; the Founders made it difficult to tamper with their extraordinarily durable, imperfect document.
But what if it were a matter of imminent peril, having to do with Presidential instability, or even insanity?
and on to the latest ethics “fracas” where the Republicans and T-Rump have decided that no one needs to be vetted.
We don’t need no stinking ethics!!
Donald Trump’s Cabinet parade marches to the Capitol this week, as Republican leaders are vowing to plow ahead with a slew of confirmation hearings despite a sharp warning from the government’s top ethics watchdog.
Nine of Trump’s Cabinet picks are slated to come before Senate committees for vetting at 10 hearings (Attorney general pick Jeff Sessions is expected to face questions over two days): two on Tuesday, five on Wednesday and three more on Thursday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is encountering resistance not only from Democrats but the chief of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics, who said over the weekend that some of Trump’s nominees have yet to complete required financial disclosures and ethics documentation.
I’ve never been so disoriented before in my life. It feels like were living through a junta that just overthrew our democracy. How can our institutions withstand this? How can our planet withstand this?
“If Trump reneges on the one-China policy after taking office, the Chinese people will demand the government to take revenge. There is no room for bargaining,” said the Global Times.
Here’s a tidy summary of this week in Destroy US Democracy.
1. Trump fires all Ambassadors and Special Envoys, ordering them out by inauguration day.
2. House brings back the Holman rule allowing them to reduce an individual civil service, SES positions, or political appointee’s salary to $1, effectively firing them by amendment to any piece of legislation. We now know why they wanted names and positions of people in Energy and State.
3. Senate schedules 6 simultaneous hearings on cabinet nominees and triple-books those hearings with Trump’s first press conference in months and an ACA budget vote, effectively preventing any concentrated coverage or protest.
4. House GOP expressly forbids the Congressional Budget Office from reporting or tracking ANY costs related to the repeal of the ACA.
5. Trump continues to throw the intelligence community under the bus to protect Putin, despite the growing mountain of evidence that the Russians deliberately interfered in our election.
6. Trump breaks a central campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall by asking Congress (in other words, us, the taxpayers) to pay for it.
7. Trump threatens Toyota over a new plant that was never coming to the US nor will take jobs out of the US.
8. House passes the REINS act, giving them veto power over any rules enacted by any federal agency or department–for example, FDA or EPA bans a drug or pesticide, Congress can overrule based on lobbyists not science. Don’t like that endangered species designation, Congress kills it.
We’re so fucked.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?