Saturday, December 08, 2018

Michael Posted Some Pictures of Jasper

In Defense of Diversity

Noble elitism is excellent, but it's easy to slide into depraved elitism without any friction whatsoever, and that's exactly what happened in the United States:
I was primed, after reading the George Bush-inspired Ross Douthat celebration of the days of elite WASP rule, to immediately pipe up with the same dunkings that echoed around the rest of the internet. Upon reflection, though, that seemed both rude and juvenile. Douthat's nostalgic premise of an elite upper-crust that ruled us kindly and competently before their successors botched things up does not deserve such knee-jerk mockery. It deserves worse. It deserves worse, and ought to get it good and hard.

...The problem with the overarching theme of Douthat's piece is that it is wrong. It is not just a little wrong, but confidently and arrogantly and self-assuredly wrong.

...There was a sense of public duty, Douthat suggests, back when women were at home, white protestant men were in power, and individuals sporting z's somewhere in their names were few and far between in the top schools. The downfall of that sense must therefore have been, purely as coincidence, due to the same people that make New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat upset in every other setting, the (ticks down the list) Meritocrats, and the Diverse, and the Secularists.

Nonsense. It was the WASPs that killed those things. It was the WASPs of conservative monument-building that killed those things dead, without any help from the common rabble, and that is even if you accept the premise that any of it was "better" in the before times, rather than just "better" because those that objected would get their comeuppance at the business end of a water cannon. It was George Herbert Walker Bush, the last American aristocrat, who helped the upper caste discard unpleasantries like noblesse oblige in favor of a new, more brutish era of I've got mine, and you've got nothing. It did not happen because we began letting the Ethnic People into our Harvards.

If America rebelled against sending its sons and daughters to war, a generation after George Bush had willingly volunteered himself, it was because America was infinitely more skeptical of the WASP-promoted, WASP-planned Vietnam conflict as worthy of bloodshed than they were of the battles against Nazis or those that killed Americans at Pearl Harbor. And it was the WASPs of America who were both granted sweeping exemptions from bearing the cost of the new wars and who eagerly, and frantically, sought them.

If America began to lose faith in government as force for good, or as guardian of top knowledge, and top architect of our grandest national plans, it was because Ronald Reagan and his then-sidekick, in an obsessive effort to relieve the true American aristocracy of tax burdens that their parents could pay willingly, but they themselves chafed bitterly at, stood on public stages and insisted that government was not good, and government was not competent, and government could not be the force behind moon landings and megaprojects, both civic and scientific, or pave the roads or deliver the mail or do the slightest bit of anything else.

It was George Bush, patriot, who went from objecting to notions of unshackling the rich from their obligations as nonsensical voodoo economics to championing the same, even as the sweeping negative effects became apparent.

It was Bill Clinton who attempted to return the federal budget to something resembling competence again; it was the WASPs, and in particular George, son of George, and the same conservative aristocracy that met those attempts with tantrumming outrage. It is not the government's money, the younger Bush and his aristocratic underlings bellowed in response to the dangers of a plan to whittle away at deficits. It is your money! And with that, they cut taxes on the WASP aristocracy still more steeply.

It was Nixon who demonstrated that our elites were self-obsessed and corrupt. It was Reagan and his allies who made it clear that the laws the little people might live by, the laws the little people assumed to be sacrosanct, were little more than passing irritants to the governing upper class. And it was Ford and Bush who made clear that consequences for criminality among the upper class were a wound that, according to the upper class, could not be suffered lest it bring all of America down around us. It was the would-be aristocrats that sang the praises of imperialism and interventionism, and would-be aristocrats that botched each such attempt at the expense of other people's children. It was the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Arabists and China hands and their self-self-evident expertise who wrote white papers and appeared on television shows to explain the Diverse portions of the world to us all, and how the natives would, in the end, celebrate our carpet-bombings and greet us as their white Protestant liberators.

The Diverse and the Secular were not prominent in those decisions. The Diverse and the Secular were not invited onto those television shows. Presuming that faith in government eroded because the Diverse showed up, uninvited and with too many consonants, or that governmental competence dwindled not because of white Protestant demands to sever the federal arteries and let each program bleed out in agonizing public fashion, but instead because the public sphere began to see churchgoers and non-churchgoers intermingle in an unhealthy manner, is not an argument. It is not sincere.

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper - I'll Never Love Again (A Star Is Born)

Saw this movie last at the IMAX theater, with its big screen. Excellent film, and an Oscar contender.

I liked both Lady Gaga's and Bradley Cooper's acting. There was a risk of their romance seeming implausible, so they took great pains to lay it out carefully. Visually it was great. The rock concert footage they got at real rock concerts, where they swapped in the movie team as a warmup act for the real show, so the footage looks just amazing. There are mild problems with the movie - Lady Gaga is too angelic towards the end - but really, a solid movie.

Since Lady Gaga is now a Very Famous Person, an effort has to be made to make her seem like a normal human again. Fortunately, they are aware of the problem and take the requisite time. Fortunately, Lady Gaga is a good actress. (I recently watched Madonna's 'Swept Away,' often cited as among the worst movies ever. The contrast in capability between the two music stars is stark.) Also difficult is that Cooper is presented as a country and western star and Gaga as an aspiring pop singer. The movie has to straddle that divide too (which they do well).

A little awkward they present the Palm Springs area as Arizona (but that's the geographer in me talking).

Cut To The Bigger Picture

An intriguing suggestion:
Obstruction of justice, it turns out, is difficult to prove. Is one tweet enough? Two? Six? See what I mean? Put so much as a single toe into that rabbit hole, and you’re quickly sucked in.

...But Mueller has another option. He can bring an indictment against Trump.

I know, I know. There are two opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice that a president cannot be indicted, and it’s said that Robert Muller has always been one to “follow the rules.” But that’s just it. The “rule” against indicting a sitting president is a rule, not a law. If Mueller were to bring an indictment against Trump, it would certainly be tested in the courts by Trump’s lawyers. Opinions are mixed about what would happen if and when the case reached the Supreme Court.

I think the case would depend on what crime Mueller seeks an indictment for. There is plenty of evidence that Trump has obstructed justice. And more evidence recently emerged that the Trump campaign conspired with Russians in the manipulation of Democratic Party emails to win the election of 2016.

...But I don’t think Mueller should bother with these crimes he committed in conspiracies with others. Rather, he should indict Trump for committing a crime only Trump, as President of the United States, can commit. He should indict Trump for violating the “Faithful Execution Clause” of the United States Constitution, which states in Article II, Section Three, that “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Printz v. United States, decided in 1997 in a challenge to the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, left little doubt as to who has the authority and responsibility to execute the laws of the United States: “The Constitution does not leave to speculation who is to administer the laws enacted by Congress; the President, it says, "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," Art. II, §3, personally and through officers whom he appoints (save for such inferior officers as Congress may authorize to be appointed by the "Courts of Law" or by "the Heads of Departments" who with other presidential appointees), Art. II, §2.”

...Suffice to say, there is ample law to back up the notion that the Constitution requires the president to not only “execute” the laws, but to follow them as well. In taking numerous acts to break the law, whether by tampering with witnesses, or overtly obstructing justice, or conspiring with a foreign power to steal the election of 2016, Trump has demonstrably not “taken care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

It’s a crime only Trump, as president of the United States, can commit, because it involves a legal requirement on the president set forth not in U.S. Codes, but in the Constitution itself.

If Mueller were to indict Trump for violating this clause of the Constitution, he would not only be forcing the issue of whether a president is above the law as written for everyone else in the U.S. Code, but whether the president is subject to the law of the land as set forth in the Constitution itself. It would be an indictment for violating a law specifically written to apply to the president and no one else.

Such an indictment by Mueller would be throwing the entire matter into the lap of the Supreme Court without delay. It would be an unavoidable constitutional question, because it is a uniquely constitutional crime. It forces the issue of whether or not the laws apply to the president by making the law in question the constitution itself.

Some have said that the Founders always knew that this country would one day face the threat of a demagogue set on subverting the country by subverting its democracy. Well, they provided not one, but two ways of dealing with the situation. Not only can such a demagogue be impeached, he can be prosecuted for failing to “faithfully execute” the laws.

It’s almost as if the founders had in mind an out of control lying authoritarian monster like Donald Trump himself, isn’t it?

Prince Tae ft. Mashavu - Perspective

Hateful People? Ya Think?

Ammon Bundy wanders off the reservation:
Bundy, a central figure in the anti-government militia movement, recently criticized Trump’s rhetoric towards the migrant caravan at America’s southern border. Following the sharing of his opinions, which was surprising to his supporters, Bundy told BuzzFeed News that he was the instant target of a heavy backlash. Some wished he was dead or that they never supported his family during the standoffs and others claimed he was paid to switch political sides.

While he expected to get some pushback, he thought he could explain to critics why he took the positions that he did. However, his speculation that people aligned with him for reasons other than his principles and weren’t really listening was confirmed by the backlash he received.

"It's like being in a room full of people in here, trying to teach, and no one is listening," Bundy told BuzzFeed News. "The vast majority seemed to hang on to what seemed like hate, and fear, and almost warmongering, and I don't want to associate myself with warmongers."

Details of the Carr Fire Tornado

Well, this is scary as hell. As if dealing with a conflagration wasn't bad enough, having to deal with a tornado at the same time is too much. Details of the Carr Fire Tornado, Redding, CA, July 26, 2018.
The field around him was a sea of rippling orange, the embers and flames seemingly alive. He couldn’t breathe from the smoke. He flagged down Andrews and Jones and led them back to Buenaventura Boulevard. He figured they could wait between the steep banks on either side of the road. The air would be clear, and the dozer engines could cool down.

But as they drove north, the tornado descended again, its edges glowing red. It whipped rocks into Cummings’ windshield like bullets, shattering the glass. It was as dark as midnight. Then it picked up the front of his 25-ton bulldozer, pivoting it clockwise and dropping it on the hood of a nearby truck, which was crushed and aflame.

The driver must be dead, Cummings thought.

He reached for the fire shelter tucked behind his seat, but nabbed his gear bag by accident. He held it in front of his face to protect his airways. White blisters bubbled on his fingertips. His skin felt like it was melting. He screamed in pain.

“No Lord,” he screamed. “Not like this!”

Now, it seemed, he was going to die the way his family had. The tornado sucked Cummings halfway out the shattered window, his body drawn by a gravity he didn’t understand. He gripped the window frame. Jagged glass pierced his left leg as he pulled himself back inside.

Reaching up, he tried to unfold the fire curtains over his dozer’s open windows. But the third-degree burns on his fingers prevented him from undoing the clasps. He grabbed a knife and cut them. Finally reaching his fire shelter, he pulled its cord as best he could.

“Be calm. Don’t make mistakes,” he repeated to himself. “Be calm. Don’t make mistakes.”

A Warning

To those that told me (and you know who you are) that any protesters on the freeway pose a threat to public safety and therefore should be run down by righteous drivers, a warning:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A man who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia was convicted Friday of first-degree murder for killing a woman in an attack that inflamed long-simmering racial and political tensions across the country.

A state jury rejected arguments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-defense during a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Jurors also convicted Fields of eight other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run.

A Quick Second Visit Last Night From Michael and Daniel!

Gallivanting on a quick second loop through California.


I like the quote:Trump emerged from a crowded GOP presidential field because of his expressions of public loathing against demographic groups that conservatives fear and his promises to use the power of the state against them. But the Democratic Party is simply too reliant on a base that is both ideologically and ethnically diverse to support a candidate who is a negative image of Trump. It is not that Democrats are more virtuous. It is that the Democratic Party’s viability rests on too many different types of people to run campaigns that rely entirely on promises to crush the other side.

...When Democrats trash Republican-leaning constituencies, it’s a political catastrophe. When Republicans trash Democratic-leaning constituencies, it’s Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Marc Valdez Scenes, "Annie," Act 2 - Cabinet Scene and Warbucks Mansion

Here I am, playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Davis Musical Theatre Company's (DMTC's) 2018 production of "Annie." With me are Katarina Detrick (Annie), Gannon Styles (Oliver Warbucks), David Ewey (Harold Ickes), Amy Woodman (Morganthau), Jan Isaacson (Perkins), and Sierra Winter (Cordell Hull).

People had a lot of praise for my performance. Myself, I thought my performance was adequate, but it seems better than it was, just because Donald Trump is doing just the worst job possible these days. People want, and NEED, inspiring leadership again!

Uneven Rainy Season So Far

Rainy season in Sacramento since start of the water year (October 1st) has been uneven: very dry until the middle of November, and wet afterwards. Currently in Sacramento, we are at 90% of average.

Millennials Have Less Money

The consequences of letting the rich keep getting richer and richer. Millennials have less money:
Since millennials first started entering the workforce, their spending habits have been blamed for killing off industries ranging from casual restaurant dining to starter houses. However, a new study by the Federal Reserve suggests it might be less about how they are spending their money and more about not having any to spend.

A study published this month by Christopher Kurz, Geng Li and Daniel J. Vine found millennials are less financially well-off than members of earlier generations when they were the same ages, with "lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth."

Their finances were compared with Generation X, baby boomers, the silent generation and the greatest generation.

The researchers examined spending, income, debt, net worth and demographic factors among the generations to determine "it primarily is the differences in average age and then differences in average income that explain a large and important portion of the consumption wedge between millennials and other cohorts."


One of the most important themes in "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" is the idea of imprisonment. This article fits right in there too:
Since 2013, the “Prison Inside Me” facility in northeast Hongcheon has hosted more than 2,000 inmates, many of them stressed office workers and students seeking relief from South Korea’s demanding work and academic culture.

“I was too busy,” said Park as she sat in a 5-sq-m (54-sq-foot) cell. “I shouldn’t be here right now, given the work I need to do. But I decided to pause and look back at myself for a better life.”

Cool Martian Panorama

Jasper Goes To Carmichael Park's Dog Park

2018's Christmas Tree

DMTC's YPT "A Christmas Carol" Closes

"Meet Me In St. Louis" - Woodland Opera House

Casual Christmas Shopping Stroll Through Arden Fair Mall

More Weird Stuff At Target