…a long way to go [DOT 22/6/21]

& a short time to get there...

…you know how the phrase “light a fire under it” tends to imply a need for urgent action?

Wildfires erupt after hottest week in history across parts of the West ignited the blazes [NBC]

…it’s a funny thing…but I guess it’s to be expected since there are so many things in the news that make it seem like we’re in limbo…that some things are clear enough you’d think we’d accept some obvious conclusions & yet instead we just seem to endlessly recycle a debate that seems like it should be settled…

I am truly baffled as to why Democrats continue to search for bipartisan support that has not only been illusory, but nonexistent — with the exception of a predictable few and only on a few issues with them.

Democrats: Republicans don’t want you to win. It’s that simple. They want no successes on your watch, and they certainly don’t want to participate in said victories.

And yet the reports keep pouring in of Democrats bending over backward and gutting their bills in a desperate effort to win Republican support.

It seems to me that this has all been a performance, a going through the motions, a checking of the boxes, so that Democrats could say that they tried, that they extended a hand but were rebuffed. Democrats always seem to want to win the moral advantage, to say that they played the game with honor.

But that is meaningless when Republicans no longer care about that form of morality, when they no longer want to play the game by the established rules at all. Democrats are playing an honor game; Republicans are playing an endgame.
The current status quo is an unwinnable negotiation, because it isn’t a negotiation. This is a war. And in it, all is fair. Republicans have embraced a liar and racist in Donald Trump because their voters embraced him. They have excused and multiplied, in fantastical ways, the insurrection at the Capitol. They are rushing to write voter restrictions that also give them more say over how results are verified.

In the face of all this, Democrats need to stop talking about reaching across the aisle, compromise and common ground.

They need to go on the record and speak plainly: The Republican Party has given up on the idea of a true and full democracy. They are attempting to tear it down and erect in its place a system that reduces voter rolls and skews the will of the American people.

For the Republican Party, the success of democracy — that growing numbers of people could participate — is its failure.

Stop Hoping the G.O.P. Will Play Ball [NYT]

…that piece came out on sunday…& it’s not like it’s the first time that argument has been raised…nor that the example (which it uses) of manchin’s efforts with the voting rights bill(s) have been cited as an example of that problem…& yet what could you have found in yesterday’s washington post?

Credit where due to Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.): The media seems to have missed it, but last week he got Republicans to admit to the “big lie.” Whatever his Democratic colleagues’ other beefs with him, they should celebrate this achievement.
In a memo, Manchin proposed building upon parts of the For the People Act and a narrower bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, with a few amendments. His proposal would make Election Day a public holiday, require two weeks of early voting, automatically register voters through motor vehicle departments and eliminate partisan gerrymandering. It’s not everything Democrats want — and has some oversights — but it addresses most of the party’s goals for promoting free and fair elections.
For instance, Manchin’s proposal includes a nationwide voter ID requirement, with a relatively broad range of documents allowed (such as utility bills). His framework also allows states to conduct purges of their voter rolls “by utilizing information derived from state and federal documents.”

Manchin also conspicuously omitted Democratic initiatives that Republicans claim (without evidence) lead to voter fraud, such as mandatory same-day voter registration, stand-alone drop boxes and no-excuse absentee voting.
The response from the left seems to be that this whole endeavor proves Manchin to be the guileless chump they always suspected he was. He gave Republicans what they said they wanted, and they still rejected his offer out of hand! To which my response is: Yes, he did. But focus on what that says about Republicans.

By ceding ground on “election security” and effectively taking the issue off the table, Manchin just proved Republicans never actually cared about election security. Not election security in the past — i.e., the 2020 presidential election they pretend was “stolen” — and not at some hypothetical point in the future. Their goal was always to use gerrymandering and voter suppression just to make it harder for Democrats to win elections.

Don’t believe me? Look at the nonsense, dog-whistling excuses for why they absolutely, positively can’t support Manchin’s proposal.


…& they didn’t stop there…they gave sinema a column

I understand bipartisanship seems outdated to many pundits. But the difficult work of collaboration is what we expect in Arizona. And I still believe it is the best way to identify realistic solutions — instead of escalating all-or-nothing political battles that result in no action, or in whipsawing federal policy reversals.

Since I was elected to Congress, a bipartisan approach has produced laws curbing suicide among our troops and veterans, boosting American manufacturing, delivering for Native American communities, combating hate crimes, and protecting public lands.
And to those who fear that Senate rules will change anyway as soon as the Senate majority changes: I will not support an action that damages our democracy because someone else did so previously or might do so in the future. I do not accept a new standard by which important legislation can only pass on party-line votes — and when my party is again in the Senate minority, I will work just as hard to preserve the right to shape legislation.

Kyrsten Sinema: We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster [WaPo]

…now it could just be me…but…well…the first of those read like a determined effort to claim that demonstrating something that has been blindingly obvious for entirely too long was somehow not only new but meaningfully so when joined with an abortive attempt to offer up flawed legislation in the forlorn hope that somehow a poor compromise would function in a dysfunctional senate…& the latter as though somehow it ought to be persuasive to argue that the other team making clear that they’re all in on subverting the rules is no reason to consider changing the rules they’re successfully abusing…but that’s not all…one line in sinema’s effort kind of stood out to me…the one about “curbing suicide among our troops and veterans”

Since 9/11, four times as many U.S. service members and veterans have died by suicide than have been killed in combat, according to a new report.

The research, compiled by the Costs of War Project at Brown University, found an estimated 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who have served in the military since 9/11 have died by suicide, compared with 7,057 killed in post 9/11 military operations. The figures include all service members, not just those who served in combat during that time.

The majority of the deaths are among veterans who account for an estimated 22,261 of the suicides during that period.
In an interview, Suitt said the number 30,177 is likely well below the actual number of suicides for active duty and veterans. He believes one of the reasons the numbers continue to climb is indifference by the American public.
Suitt said his research found that some service members may not get the medical treatment they need, making them more vulnerable to suicidal behavior.

Since 9/11, military suicides dwarf the number of soldiers killed in combat [NBC]

…& she’s citing that as an example of the successful nature of bipartisanship?

…now don’t get me wrong…I understand the argument…I get the importance of being able to make gains that can’t be summarily overturned by those who apparently oppose progress based upon principles that seem to begin with denying the basic definitions of commonly used language…but there comes a point when, to me, trying to make that argument becomes offensively disingenuous…pretty much the way that claiming to curb a problem that remains the leading cause of death in a demographic whose profession involves risking their lives is offensively disingenuous…it’s not that the logic of the argument is flawed but that the foundation of context on which it rests shows it to be broken before it’s made

Sinema’s office told NBC News her support for the filibuster is “not based on the importance of any particular policy,” but rather “based on what is best for our democracy, including the fact that the filibuster helps protect the country from wild swings back and forth between opposing policy poles.”

She has asked activists to consider the prospect that elimination of the filibuster to pass the voting rights bill could enable a future Republican-led Washington to repeal it and impose nationwide voter-ID or restrictions on mail voting over the objections of Democrats, her office said.


…maybe it’s like that thing where if you warm the pot slowly enough the frog stays put until it’s boiled…in a two party system where one party is more fixated on obstructing the other than it is on governing & has a track record of improving the lot of a largely wealthy & privileged minority at the expense of everyone else…bipartisanship doesn’t read as an honorable compromise so much as conceding defeat to a bully…or to put it another way…when one side isn’t just lying but lying about the lying…is the truth enough?

It’s pretty clear why Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo objects to the descriptor of “the big lie” to refer to former president Donald Trump’s repeated false claims that the 2020 presidential election was somehow stolen. There are few people in the United States who played as significant a role in boosting those falsehoods as Bartiromo, who let Trump rant on-air in October about the risk of fraud for nearly an hour and who, at the end of November, gave him about 45 minutes to make a variety of false and debunked claims about the election results.
When Americans are critical of those who touted false claims about the election, it’s therefore certainly fair for Bartiromo to get a little defensive. So, on Sunday, she took the opportunity of an interview with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to suggest that other “lies” were more deserving of the title “big lie.”

“Let’s take a look at the biggest lies of all since the Democrats came up with this ridiculous ‘big lie’ about election integrity,” she said. “These are actually the biggest lies.”

She asked Johnson — who also supported Trump’s post-election narrative — how many firearms were seized at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“Not one,” he said, citing an FBI witness he’d questioned. The timing of this was a little awkward, because the Justice Department last week brought a charge against a Jan. 6 defendant centered on his having brought a firearm to the building. He’s not the only one.
The idea that using the phrase “armed insurrection” is somehow a “bigger lie” than the claim that the election was stolen — an evidence-free false claim believed by a third of the country — doesn’t pass the smell test. Nor do the other claims Bartiromo made.


…so…if something has to give…couldn’t it be the two party thing?

With a traditional ballot, all the votes are added up, and the candidate with the most votes wins, even if that candidate did not win a majority of votes. (This system is sometimes called “plurality voting.”)

With the ranked-choice ballot, if none of the candidates receives a majority of first-choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and her votes are distributed to her voters’ second-choice candidates. The process repeats until one of the candidates collects more than half the votes.
“Ranked-choice voting is great at finding the majority-preferred winner,” said Deb Otis, researcher at FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for electoral changes such as ranked-choice voting.

Research also suggests that ranked-choice voting encourages more candidates, especially women and people of color, to enter races in the first place. Ranked-choice advocates say would-be candidates don’t have to worry about becoming “spoilers,” peeling off voters from a similar candidate who has more support.


…I don’t know…but sometimes you gotta say enough is enough

Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job’ [WaPo]

…or, I guess, ask what a life is worth

Over 5,000 youths suffered gunshot wounds in 2020. A quarter of them did not survive. More youths under 17 years old died by gunfire last year than ever recorded, and the data for 2021 looks much the same.
We have done it with other kinds of injury. We’ve learned how to keep children safe inside cars, on bikes and while sleeping in cribs. We do this by identifying risk factors and intervening before our patients are hurt. We counsel families, advocate for policies that bolster our recommendations and spread the word through public-health messaging.

We can do it with guns.
The factors putting so many children at risk for gun deaths and injuries during covid-19 are wide and interrelated. Children suffer gunshots in three different ways: They harm themselves or others unintentionally, they become suicidal or they fall victim to violent crime. All three have risen throughout the pandemic. School closures have left young children home with minimal supervision; social isolation has fueled adolescent depression; and economic instability has led to historic levels of violent crime. Each scenario becomes more lethal when guns are involved.[…]

Firearm sales have skyrocketed since the pandemic took hold. Even before covid-19, 13 million children lived in a home with at least one gun. Then 2020 saw a 64 percent increase in firearm sales. More than 20 million guns were sold last year, and 6 million more left the shelves in early 2021. Every month seems to set a new record. This country has more guns than people.
Firearm injuries have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for our nation’s children.

2020 was the worst year ever for child gun deaths. We need prevention strategies now. [WaPo]

…now I’m not trying to get that out of proportion…out of 13million 5,000 might not be a big number…& 25% of that 5,000 even smaller…so it’s fair to say that in the vast majority of cases those households that had both firearms & children present still had both at the end of the day…but one quarter of five thousand is still 1,250…and when that’s more than a thousand children who will never be adults…saying there isn’t something that has to change is beyond me…so it’s hard to see treading water as progress

Appeals Court Blocks Ruling That Overturned California’s Assault Weapons Ban [NYT]

…not that guns are the only threat we might want to do a better job of protecting kids from

Meet Share Bear, the toy that knows everything about you … and then sells it to billion-dollar tech companies.

This cuddly yet creepy companion is part of a new campaign launching later this week called “Twisted Toys,” which aims to raise awareness about the ways tech companies prey on children’s data. The upbeat commercials at first appear as if they would run during Saturday morning cartoons, but quickly take a dark turn. They distort familiar childhood toys with risky and addictive features common across the Internet.
The campaign is backed by 5Rights, a foundation advocating for children’s digital rights helmed by Beeban Kidron, a member of the British House of Lords. She has backed regulation to protect kids online in the United Kingdom, and now she’s working with U.S. organizations to bring that fight across the Atlantic with this new campaign.

“Twisted toys reimagines the norms of the digital world in traditional toys, and says, ‘Is that okay?’ ” Kidron told me in an interview. “And I sort of challenge anyone to say any of these toys are okay.”


…so…here we are

As the most senior non-Trump executive at the former president’s private, closely held company, Weisselberg is probably a key figure in prosecutors’ efforts to indict Trump, legal experts say. His central role in nearly every aspect of Trump’s business, revealed in depositions and news interviews over the past three decades, afforded him what former employees say is a singular view of the Trump Organization’s tax liabilities and finances.
Yet officials involved in the Weisselberg investigation have grown frustrated about what they view as a lack of cooperation from Weisselberg and believe he continues to regularly speak with Trump, according to a person familiar with the inquiry.
Former Trump employees have described Weisselberg as having been entrusted with nearly every aspect of Trump’s business, a figure who signed most of the company’s checks and monitored expenses as small as pens.
Trump and Weisselberg have worked together through numerous legal battles before now, with both of them having to repeatedly provide testimony to plaintiffs’ attorneys and prosecutors in earlier cases.
Without Weisselberg’s cooperation, legal experts say, it’s unclear whether prosecutors would be able to establish any required intent on Trump’s part were they to allege that the Trump Organization or any of its officers committed crimes. (The district attorney has the option to indict companies rather than individuals.)

Those experts say Weisselberg’s legal exposure could be significant — including the possibility of prison time — if the district attorney is able to prove allegations that have been reported, such as misrepresenting the company’s assets or income with banks, insurers or tax authorities.
Weisselberg has long been considered Trump’s most trusted nonfamily lieutenant and his role at the company appears only to have increased since Trump entered the White House. Recent Trump Organization public filings, in fact, show Weisselberg playing a more active role at some Trump businesses than Trump himself.
In Florida this year, the Trump Organization filed annual reports for 40 subsidiaries operating in the state. Weisselberg was listed as an officer of all 40, usually along with one or both of Trump’s adult sons. Trump was largely absent, having not retaken the leadership roles he held before he became president. He was listed as an officer of just one company: He is the president of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, a designation that allowed him to reside at the for-profit club after neighbors raised objections.
Weisselberg’s apparent unwillingness to assist the investigation at what appears to be a mature stage may narrow his options down the road were he to be indicted, according to legal experts.

Trump and his CFO Allen Weisselberg stay close as prosecutors advance their case [WaPo]

…another tuesday in a supposedly sane world

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich said Monday the claims in the suit, which alleged that Trump and then-Attorney General William Barr had conspired to violate the rights of protesters last June, were speculative and it was premature for the court to conclude whether the actions of law enforcement officers were justified.

Friedrich dismissed the claims against Barr and other federal officials, including the acting U.S. Park Police chief, Gregory Monahan, finding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove there was any agreement or plan to violate the rights of the protesters. The judge also said the law gives them immunity in civil litigation.

In a 51-page decision, the judge did allow the claims against the Metropolitan Police Department and the Arlington Police Department — their officers were involved in clearing the park — to proceed.

Judge dismisses most claims against Trump administration in clearing of Lafayette Square [NBC]

…what are you gonna do?

Trump Sues N.Y.C. for Ending Golf Course Contract After Capitol Riot [NYT]



  1. Who wrote the second article? It sounds like a bill maher argument. I think there is alot to be said for being able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day. The end game the GOP is playing is a temporary fix, it is a wall around a sand castle and the tide is coming in. Time and progress are going to take their toll. Not in my lifetime, I suspect, but it will happen.
    I feel uncharacteristically upbeat today, wtf.

  2. As always, thank you for continuing to highlight gun violence in the US. For me, the sheer vastness of the numbers of dead or injured (of any age) from gun violence tends to dehumanize the individual trauma. So far this year, 2,542 children harmed by guns; 28% of them died.

    As far as online access and internet toys, I have a tangentially related experience, probably not news to those DeadSplinterites with younger children. My son’s partner has an 8-year-old with autism. She does an impressive job with his education. They moved last year for a better school district, as not all school districts offer the same level of special needs support. At their request, we’d gifted them a tablet for the little boy to use at home with learning games when the were living in the sub-par school district.

    He also used it to watch Thomas the Train videos. They did all the parental controls, and were vigilant. Yet he was able to navigate from one video to another, and frequently ended up in “Thomas tribute” videos. These show home-filmed action of the actual toys , moving, crashing violently, with loud, excited, voices and noises; some show dead toys as crash victims. Often the languages were Russian/Slavic or Spanish. He then reenacted them with his toys, and reacted in an over-excited way.

    Long story not short (sorry), they took away the tablet about a year ago. The difference in the child is noticeable – he is 100 times more verbal, is calmer, plays with fewer crashes, etc. Some of his improvement is due to age, some the new school, and much to his mother, but taking away the tablet and stopping online access has made a huge difference for the better. Interaction with humans as opposed to tech, for the win.

    • …that 5rights lot had some good points if you look through their stuff…as you say a lot of it isn’t exactly new but the lack of much discernible being done to curb the various sorts of harm that can ensue from careless navigation of the online world means in some senses it might as well be?

      …one of the things they point out which seems like it gets skipped over more often than not is the implicit assumption that a generation described as “digital natives” are somehow immune to the baked in ways in which the internet is not necessarily their friend…if you have the time to spare this is arguably worth looking over


      …& the accompanying blurb has some useful citations?

    • I can’t remember where I ran across it, but some internet article about how there are a whole bunch of disturbing videos targeted towards kids, and using popular toys and cartoons.  There’s some really disturbing stuff out there, that seems really potentially unhealthy. 
      As an adult, I don’t want to see some of that stuff, it’s just too disturbing.

      • …I’d have to go hunting for a link…but anecdotally I’ve heard (& in some cases seen) that the youtube suggestion algorithm in particular can go from stuff for kids featuring kids to stuff you wouldn’t want kids watching featuring things associated with kids… especially disney/marvel things?

        • thank you!  – I think that might have been what it was, something about how fucked the youtube recommendation algorithm is.  I think the video I saw was mostly using “Peppa Pig” examples, and a few others I’ve since forgotten
          Can’t remember if it was related, but also something about youtube and weird borderline pedo stuff.  There’s a lot of disturbing shit on youtube, I just stay in the corner with leftist content…

    • Years ago there were some Caillou videos on YouTube with computer-generated voices dropping all kinds of raw language.  It was the funniest goddamned thing I’ve ever seen.

  3. Re: Ranked choice voting: Today is an exciting day in The World’s Greatest City™. It is primary day and for the first time we have city-wide RCV. I’m all for it and hope it becomes more widely adopted. Supposedly we won’t know the results for weeks but that is due to a very common New York combo of bureaucratic incompetence and a couple of rules surrounding vote count timing. 

    Wish us luck!

    • …pretty sure that’s what prompted that article…but I was in a rush this morning & failed to acknowledge that part

      …good luck, though…fingers crossed for a good result

    • Good luck!
      We’ve got that here for local elections, and I really like it – I don’t have to carefully research every candidate, and then try and decide their chances of winning, and whether I should vote for them, or if that would be “wasting” my vote, etc.
      It really should be embraced on a national level, but that would mean the Dems might loose more seats to progressive candidates, so of course they will fight it…

  4. As a healthy skeptic of gen X, it is of NO surprise to me how bad the internet has become. It may very well be our downfall.  We are way past the point of regulating or “cleaning up” the mess that it has become. 

    • I know – everyone was so focused on the giving water and snacks to voters that no really paid attention to how authoritarian the bill actually is. I’m not sure what can be done about it – Manchin and Sinema have seriously screwed all of us. It’s really scary.

      • Greg has been doing a great job on this but really needs the DOJ to step in and start shutting down this shit.  I was just listening to MSNBC saying that Biden needs to talk about it more too, he is so focused on the infrastructure bill.  Not sure why we can’t do more things at the same time?

        • …that’s a good question…the fact that the prevailing narrative tends to be pretty narrow ought not to prevent there being a lot happening “in the wings” as it were…& with the legislation almost certain to be stonewalled in the senate you’d think that sort of thing would be even more important

          …I understand him wanting to make a point about keeping the DoJ at an independent arm’s length & all…but he should still be trying to get them to protect voters’ rights…just because that likely would work in the democrats’ favor doesn’t mean it’s partisan to fight blatant attempts to pervert the electoral system in an attempt to favor the GOP…at least I don’t see how it would be if you’re speaking in good faith?

  5. …what are you gonna do?
    well…im going to watch scotland play croatia…and have a couple beers and hope by the end of the match ive stopped twitching from resisting the urge to kill office wonks
    the noobs werent too difficult tho… fucking loads of questions but they actually listened to and applied the answers which is a okay by me…ask away
    anyways im so far beyond giving a fuck right now…im actually in quite a happy place
    if this is what a mental breakdown feels like…ill take 3
    also…this shit is getting ridiculous
    i mean…at some point…the prices have got to dive right?
    is something ive been saying for years now….. but this shit is getting ridiculous..and still houses are going for well over the listed price coz people bid well over just to have a chance of getting it as we dont have enough

    • …glad you’re feeling good & nobody actually died & all

      …but on the real estate thing…I think it’s true in a lot of places but it wasn’t until all the sub-prime mortgage stuff that I started to get my head around how entirely nuts it seems to be…there’s a sort of feedback loop where not enough supply is added to keep pace with demand (in some places massively so for decades on end) & what there is available goes up in value to the point that it prices people out of the areas they grew up in because “it’s what the market will bear”

      …fundamentally it seems like it can’t keep on that way forever but at this point the idea of the real estate market crashing seems like something that would provoke a lot of attempts to forestall it rather than being accepted as a “correction” in the market?

      …also…there’s an increasing number of people sort of everywhere so you’d think the idea we need more houses that people can actually afford would be one of those “no brainer” things I’ve heard about…yet they seem to be the ones people are least inclined to build…I don’t know..maybe that’s one of those dangerously socialist ideas or something?

      • you’d think so….and over here theres a big push to get more affordable houses and shit built…but it all takes time…and…all the new eco friendly measures getting piled on (nessecary as they are) have a side effect….new houses are a lot fucking more expensive to build
        but mostly the problem is rich people and investment firms being willing to bid well over price coz they know some other rich person or investment firm will take it off their hands for an even higher price driving the price ever upward
        i think the end game is only investment firms own houses…and the rest of us pay sky high rent forever

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