If We Restore The Rule Of Law, It Will, At First, Seem Capricious

Last week, with double whammy of the Paul Manafort (under)sentencing and the college admissions scandal, there was a lot of chatter about the fall of elites (not that they were ever so uplifted to start with) and the possibly terminal of the rule of law. If we ever get around to restoring something approximating the rule of law, we must accept that one reaction will be ethical and legal whattaboutism. Here’s what I mean, using Manafort as an example (boldface mine):

When Paul Manafort’s lawyers pressed their case for leniency in court on Wednesday, they made the argument that everyone knew about Paul Manafort’s malfeasance—and therefore, how bad could it possibly be? They pointed to the fact he met repeatedly with top government officials to kibitz about his clients in the government of Ukraine. (I wrote about such meetings in my profile of Manafort.) Obviously, those government officials knew him to be a lobbyist. So, really, what’s the harm of his failing to register as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act?

In fact, the lawyers had a point. Manafort is being sent to prison for crimes that are systemic, hardly hidden, and usually elicit little more than a yawn or shrug. According to a Justice Department report in 2016, there had been seven prosecutions for failure to comply with FARA since 1966. What makes this figure so galling is how many eminent ex-government officials have served as “strategic advisers” to dictatorial governments.

In other words, why Manafort? (other than his being a contempible shitstain) Why not all those other corrupt lobbyists? Now consider the college admissions fraud scandal. As several #MeToo assailants have learned, professional actresses make devastatingly effective witnesses. Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman will have excellent representation and will likely play the Concerned Mom act very effectively: they just wanted what was best for their kids (which is true). They too can argue that they are just the unlucky ones–according to some reports, over 700 students were affected by this scam (I write affected, as it appears in many cases, the students were unaware this was happening). While I’m focusing on Loughlin and Huffman, most, if not all, of the people caught up in this appear, outwardly, to be ‘good people’: they’re accomplished, they probably do some community work, and so on.

Above all, it appears capricious: why should these people be punished when others are not? That’s the problem when the rule of law disintegrates. When you begin to restore it, it will never appear to be applied equally or fairly. But that cruelty, that hardness is what it will take to restore a bit more equality to the Republic.

And it’s something we absolutely must do.

Posted in The Rule of Law | Leave a comment

Links 3/19/19

Trump_devinnunesmom
Links for you. Science:

Stonehenge-like monuments were home to giant pig feasts. Now, we know who was on the guest list
The case against lawns
Optimize what: Silicon Valley is full of the stupidest geniuses you’ll ever meet. The problem begins in the classrooms where computer science is taught.
Barbara Low, Whose Research Identified the Shape of Penicillin, Dies at 98
NASA making its Moon mission commercial could signal a paradigm shift for deep-space travel

Other:

Modern Monetary Realism (never get into an argument with James Galbraith. Never.)
How To Write A Political Puff Piece
Trump: You wouldn’t like my supporters in the military if they got angry
The Big Lie
Kamala Harris introduces bill to send millions to local governments for tech support
Beto vs. Democrats: Texas Lawmaker Frequently Voted to Help Trump and GOP (dreamy!)
Trump doesn’t condemn white supremacists, he hires them: Corey Stewart takes over Trump PAC
A for Effort: Why the latest college admissions exposé will only make things worse
DeVos Moves to Ease Church-State Rules in Education
Hudson Yards Is Manhattan’s Biggest, Newest, Slickest Gated Community. Is This the Neighborhood New York Deserves?
‘Gays Are Scum of the Earth’: Republican governor’s aide attacked LGBT, black, and Jewish people on social media site popular with alt-right
At Hudson Yards, the future isn’t now
The College Bribery Scam Reveals How Rich People Use ‘Charity’ to Cheat
Speaking of “Electability”
Why does everybody suddenly hate billionaires? Because they’ve made it easy.
The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit
Bernie Sanders Boosts Foreign Policy Cred For 2020 With Yemen Vote Win

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Heal

Observed on P Street NW, between 14th and 15th, Logan Circle, D.C.:

Heal

Posted in DC | Leave a comment

We Don’t Need Validation From The Right: The George Conway Edition

Over the weekend, in light of Il Trumpe’s Twitter meltdown (yet another one), Republican strategist, ‘Never Trumper’, and husband to White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out the obvious: the president is unwell. First, some of us on the left have been saying this from day one–and our characterization of his narcissistic personality disorder is more accurate:

•Default emotion: emptiness. Think of a vast, blank wall that can be temporarily sprayed with any available can of paint, the prevailing color being the one most recently employed.

•Incapable of viewing others as real creatures with needs discrete from his or her own, consequently has no problem using others for any purpose that furthers his or her desires, up to and including their destruction, for which he or she will feel no remorse. Remorse in general not a strong suit.

Bipolar internal landscape, vacillates between delusions of grandeur, during which time he or she may be quite pleasant, even “happy”, and abject depression brought about by feelings of inadequacy and unimportance. At such times, may appear paranoid or mutate into hard-to-handle bully. Prone to terrible rage or suicidal self-pity when this artifical cosmic construct (with his or her self at the center) is contradicted by ample evidence to the contrary.

•Bold and heedless in the face of danger; highly imaginative, given to flights of fancy fueled by lack of any instinct for self-doubt, during which any and all ideas will be perceived as brilliant, even inevitable, no matter how lame.

Capable of great generosity and random acts of kindness, because they make him feel good about himself and justify his egocentric worldview.

Zero attention span, concentration of a small child.

Most used word: “I.” Second most used word: “Me.”

Typically, I don’t care what goes on in someone’s head, but, in Trump’s case, it’s an incredibly accurate predictor of how he will react. But back to Conway.

The other thing to note is that Conway–both of them actually–are running a grift. To put it bluntly, his wife is a collaborator. Yet when this is all done, regardless of how this does finally end, Kellyanne Conway will make a killing with a tell-all, while at the same time, George Conway will be rehabilitated as a ‘respectable’ conservative who opposed Trump. There never seems to be a price to being awful. This is the point where I’m supposed to suggest how they will be held accountable, but I don’t have a clue how to make that happen.

Posted in Bidness, Conservatives, Resistance Rebellion And Death | Leave a comment

Links 3/18/19

Trump_mulvaneysupremacist
Links for you. Science:

Dear Christine: Should I do a PhD if I don’t know whether I want to be a professor?
I understand the vaccine doubts. Here’s why my children will get them anyway.
Deregulating buprenophine prescribing for opioid use disorder will save lives
An anaconda measuring more than 50 FEET (15m) was registered in the Xingu River, Brazil.
Sea Level Rise in Bay Area is Going to Be Much More Destructive Than We Think, Says USGS Study

Other:

Our Boss Will Call Your Boss
Yascha Mounk tells people what they want to hear
Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, explained
US Regime Change Blueprint Proposed Venezuelan Electricity Blackouts as ‘Watershed Event’ for ‘Galvanizing Public Unrest’
How the Far Right Perverts Ancient History—And Why It Matters
Where Did Boeing Go Wrong?
The accused New Zealand shooter and an all-white Europe that never existed
America’s real affirmative action program
Our big college admissions scandal just made the U.S. look a lot more like the rest of the world
Bernie Sanders’ Staff Forms First-Ever Union For Presidential Campaign Workers
The New Zealand Shooter’s Rhetoric Sounds Like Something You Might Hear In Congress
The U.S. Has A Dire Shortage Of Affordable Homes, And Trump Wants To Make It Worse
College degrees, freedom papers, and the admissions scam we all fall for
Fox News Has Always Been Propaganda
Democrats Must Expose Trump’s Betrayal of Working People (so get his fucking taxes already)
The Profound Emptiness of Beto O’Rourke
Facebook, Axios And NBC Paid This Guy To Whitewash Wikipedia Pages
New Democrats position themselves as realistic alternative to Green New Deal (WE LIKE THIS)

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

Republicans Politicized Tax Collection

Despite passing a temporary middle class tax cut (it will get smaller every year for the middle class. But not the wealthy! MAGA!), Il Trumpe et alia managed to fuck it up by messing around with the withholding, leading many people to receive smaller refunds than they expected–or even wound up paying more taxes. So that was Stupid Policy Trick #1.

But they also have done something else stupid, which might not be readily obvious to people who file electronically or use tax preparation services. The 1040 form used to be one double sided page (“used to be” meaning all the way back in… 2018). If you had some dividends from stocks or savings accounts, there would be additional schedules to file, but the main form was one double-sided full page form.

Well, the IRS has chopped the form up, such that the ‘main’ page has only thirteen lines. Simplification! It can fit on a postcard! Other Ridiculous Republican Rhetoric!

Of course, the tax form really isn’t any shorter. All the Trump Administration did is chop it up into six pieces–six separate forms. It goes without saying there will be people who screw up–or simply have a form get lost by the IRS–due to these new multiple forms. It also makes it a little more difficult to fill out your taxes, because last year’s tax form doesn’t exactly match with the 2019 form. What could possibly go wrong?

Yes, this is a very minor thing, but politicizing everything has its downsides, especially when shit simply needs to work.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons, Taxes | 1 Comment

Links 3/17/19

Trump_socializemeats
Links for you. Science:

‘Math Anxiety’ Is Real, and Your Teachers Are Probably to Blame
What Really Makes a Difference in Vaccination Rates?
Track pathogenic organisms promptly with the National Database of Antibiotic Resistant Organisms
Vanderbilt panel weighs in against tenure for #MeToo scientist
T. Rex Like You Haven’t Seen Him: With Feathers

Other:

The human cost of insulin in America
What Jesse Taught Bernie About Running for President (important history, whether you like Sanders or not)
There Is No Downside To Impeaching Trump For Democrats
‘They risk squandering this culture of transit riding’: Metro ridership hits a low point
Metro ridership is in free fall. Why won’t the Metro board act?
What Makes Restaurants Sink or Swim? We Asked a Woman Who Helps Them Stay Afloat.
America Has Always Exported Culture. Have We Added Mass Shootings and Online Fascism? (I’m not certain; the new version definitely has European influences too)
Why the GOP Isn’t Getting the Jewish Vote Anytime Soon
LePage: Democratic Party’s ‘Money’ Comes From Jews ‘For The Most Part’
Police arrest man projecting ‘discrimination is wrong’ onto outside of Rayburn House Office Building
MMT Has Been Around for Decades. Here’s Why It Just Caught Fire
It’s Magic! Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education allows Grand Canyon University to call itself non-profit while its parent company reports profit margin of 27 percent (this, of course, is nothing like the K-12 charter school profiteers…)
Democratic wins in 2020 won’t change much if Mitch McConnell saves the filibuster
Why Fewer People Are Riding Metro Now Than In 2000
From Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, Republicans once championed D.C. statehood
Beto O’Rourke Is the Candidate For Vapid Morons (“Does that gloopy word salad move you? Do you think he’s actually saying something? Then, yes, you might be Beto O’Rourke’s constituency.”)
A History Of D.C.’s Bizarre Daylight Saving Mishaps
As Boston Aims To End Traffic Deaths, Deadliest Streets Often Go Overlooked
The Convergence Among Racial, Gender, and Economic Attitudes in 2018

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment