Where Does It Stop?

>❝ “So it has gone from Russia collusion, to a St. Petersburg troll farm, to Stormy Daniels, to Michael Cohen, and now, Sean Hannity?” Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft asked rhetorically, reeling from a whirlwind day that began with Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, walking into federal court, and ended with the revelation that Cohen claimed Hannity as a client. “Where does it stop and what the hell does this have to do with the Russia collusion?”

>❝ Indeed, anger and stupefaction were the primary emotions on the far right Monday as the media raced to keep apace with a cascade of twists and turns in the Stormy-gate circus…The news had prompted a near-instantaneous meltdown on Twitter as media pundits and commentators speculated about what sinister deal Cohen might have negotiated on Hannity’s behalf…Indeed, while CNN and MSNBC seized on the news with rapturous zeal, the right-wing mediaverse was spectacularly silent on the Cohen-Hannity question…

Eddie Scarry, the media reporter for the conservative Washington Examiner, suspected that Trumpworld was more worried about potential skeletons in Cohen’s closet than they were letting on…Hannity, he added, was only a plot point in the vast right-wing narrative, if a totally bonkers one: “Yeah, of course that’s the logical next step in this insanity.”

Looking past the smell of Trump’s life, the corruption and national degradation he’s created in Washington, I would neither call this insanity nor logic. Crime and opportunism always benefit from cooperative ignorance. In this case, on the part of a significant minority of eligible voters.

CitiBank Regulates Gun Sales While Congress Remains Mired In Political Idiocy


Corporate dedication to profits from violence

❝ Citigroup Inc. plans to prohibit retailers that are customers of the bank from offering bump stocks or selling guns to people who haven’t passed a background check or are younger than 21.

The bank is imposing the restrictions on companies that use it to issue store credit-cards or for lending and other services, according to a memo Thursday. The lender also barred the sale of high-capacity magazines.

❝ “The policy was designed to respect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep firearms out of the wrong hands,” Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Mike Corbat said in the memo to staff. “It is clear to me that most people believe there are areas of agreement and practical changes we can make to find common ground.”

The overwhelming majority of Americans clearly agree with policies like these. Congress – tied in knots of ignorance, arrogance and the almighty dollar$ forked over by corporate profiteers – remains a useless political gang of greedy unprincipled hacks.

Bipartisan [remember that?] bill, written by a Democrat [imagine that?] restricting Trump’s ability to wage war OK’d by House committee


Click to enlargeAP/Andrew Harnik

❝ A House committee has earned a rare bipartisan round of applause for beginning to roll back the US president’s ability to wage war.

❝ The House Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which allows the president to undertake war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates without Congressional approval. The law, passed shortly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, has been used to approve conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The new amendment, introduced by Democratic Representative Barbara Lee, would sunset these presidential powers eight weeks after Congress passes the 2018 defence spending budget. The appropriations committee has sent the budget to the House floor for a vote.

❝ A visibly surprised Ms Lee welcomed the addition of the amendment on Thursday, condemning the AUMF as “a blank check to wage war anywhere, at any time, and for any length”.

The AUMF has been used to justify military action more than 37 times in 14 countries since 2001, according to the Congressional Research Service…

❝ “This issue is more urgent given the erratic behaviour and inexperience of our current Commander-in-Chief,” Ms Lee said. “No president should have a blank check for endless war, least of all President Donald Trump.”

Members of Congress were falling over each other to pass this bill in 2001 – excepting Barbara Lee, the sole vote against its passage. She understood and declared the foolishness of a bill so broad and unchecked it would be used [and was] by any president for any war they wished for.

I wish her well trying to shepherd her sanity through the rest of a Congress notable for cowardice and capitulation to religion, bigotry and corporate pimps. I compliment the members of the House Appropriations Committee for doing exactly what they are chartered to do.

Why are measles coming back?

❝ We eliminated measles in the U.S. in 2000. Somebody should tell the measles. Because even though the virus has no permanent home stateside, it keeps getting in—more and more, it seems.

❝ If you were born in the U.S. after about 1968, you’ve lived your entire life with virtually no interaction with the measles. Consider yourself lucky. The virus causes fevers over 104°F, inflamed eyes, a cough, plus a rash that begins as tiny white spots and becomes an itchy red mass spreading outward from the head to cover your entire body. And that’s just your basic measles encounter. About 30 percent of measles patients get extra complications, including diarrhea, pneumonia, brain inflammation, and permanent blindness. In healthy areas, few people died of the disease—only about 0.3 percent—but in impoverished or malnourished populations that figure jumps up to around 30 percent.

❝ Before the measles vaccine, 3 to 4 million people got the disease every year and basically everyone had gotten it by age 15. That might sound like pretty good news. If everyone gets it as a kid, surely it’s like chicken pox—you get it, then you’re over it. In some ways, that’s right. But it also means that the potentially permanent complications (and the fatalities) disproportionately affect little kids.

❝ We’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to live in a world where young children regularly get serious diseases. It’s difficult to notice an absence of deaths, so here’s some perspective: from 2000-2012, the measles vaccine saved about 13.8 million lives. If we continue the way we’re going, though, we might get a different perspective. From 1989-1991, measles saw a huge comeback because people weren’t getting vaccinated enough—and we may not be too far from that happening all over again.

We’re losing herd immunity and that’s sufficient to allow this childhood killer back. RTFA for sensible discussion. By now – if you’re a regular reader of this blog – I take it down to two questions: ignorance or stupidity.

In this instance, I’d say both. I grew up before vaccines were common in the US. Every spring the kids in our factory town sooner or later got round to figuring out who died over winter…and from what. I had measles and waltzed right through. My kid sister wasn’t so lucky. Ended up in hospital in an oxygen tent with pneumonia before she kicked it.

We also had to contend with scarlet fever, whooping cough, mumps, rheumatic fever and more. The summer was saved for polio.

The 75th anniversary of Japanese internment in America sounds awfully familiar


Click to enlarge

Gravestone in the cemetery at Manzanar internment camp

❝ History does not stand still. Sometimes, it repeats itself subtly and incrementally. Other times, the patterns are sudden yet plain for the world to see.

This Sunday, Feb 19, is the 75th anniversary of the Day of Remembrance, marking the authorization of Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The order—which set in motion a mass internment of Japanese Americans—was signed and justified in the name of national security. The order wreaked havoc in the Japanese American community, eventually leading to the incarceration of more than 120,000 citizens in our country.

In 1988, after years of determined advocacy by the Japanese American community, the Civil Liberties Act was signed into law by US president Ronald Reagan. It officially recognized this grave wrong that had been committed by our nation. The legislation, which provided redress and a formal apology to the victims of Japanese internment, received support from members of both political parties in Congress. Its enactment was truly a testament to the greatness of our country, and formally demonstrated that we had learned from our imperfect past…

❝ …As we witnessed 75 years ago, and then again just a few weeks ago, fear-based rhetoric can spiral into devastating injustice. On this Day of Remembrance, we are reminded of the need to treat this day not just as a memorial of the past, but a reminder to stay vigilant in the present.

RTFA for a brief recounting of what Doris Matsui’s family suffered through our government’s bigotry, our nation’s fear. Reflect upon the clown show occupying the White House from the decision of a minority of voters in our last election. Not even the soundness of FDR’s control over our government meant anything to the bigotry of 1942.

I’m confident the citizens of the United States have made strides forward against bigotry and cowardice. Our government? Not so much.