…working to rule [DOT 19/4/22]

bent out of shape...

…I know this might seem like a waste of time…on account of how in many ways nothing’s changed…or particularly likely to

While the prime minister might appear at times contrite for breaking Covid laws during England’s first Covid lockdown, he is expected to maintain that at the time he did not believe he was doing anything wrong.

…if you divorce yourself sufficiently from reality you might actually be able to persuade yourself that if you set the rules you’d know whether or not you’d broken them…so saying you hadn’t was essentially the same as not having broken them…so saying you hadn’t was not only plausible but something you could legitimately claim to remain true in the sense of not misleading even after the authorities ruled it to have been otherwise

This defence is key to ensuring he cannot be found to have knowingly misled parliament when he proclaimed that no rules were broken in No 10, when stories of sloshed staff holding parties with suitcases full of wine and a DJ first emerged.

It is the “knowingly” that is most important.

…at least, it’s theoretically important…in the sense that boris himself signed some stuff about the standards required of members of parliament…that happens to include a quite specific requirement that one found to have lied to mislead parliament would be obliged to resign…& unsurprisingly he’s got zero intention of doing that…no matter how blindingly obvious it might be to anyone that his position ought to be the very definition of untenable

…for whatever reason that twitter account seems to be current but the website it matches seems to have given up the unequal struggle back around january…but even then there wasn’t exactly any shortage of stuff to be found under the heading of misleading statements made by that particular “honourable gentleman” before the house


On top of the ongoing Met police investigation and Sue Gray’s as-yet-unpublished report, opposition parties are also mounting an attempt to keep the spotlight on Johnson’s rule-breaking.

On top of the ongoing Met police investigation and Sue Gray’s as-yet-unpublished report, opposition parties are also mounting an attempt to keep the spotlight on Johnson’s rule-breaking.

They are pushing for the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, to allow a vote on a debate about whether the prime minister should be held in contempt of parliament, potentially launching an investigation by the privileges committee into whether the Commons was misled.
While the text of any final motion has yet to materialise – and Hoyle will not deliver his ruling on whether to accept it or not until Tuesday at the earliest – Tory insiders admit the issue would be treated like a confidence vote.

But any vote will almost certainly be whipped, meaning the plan is doomed to fail even if it goes to a vote thanks to Johnson’s huge majority – barring a mammoth backbench rebellion.

One MP said they were considering voting against the government but knew that if they did so, they would be stripped of the whip and that would be the end of their political career.
Opposition parties are also sceptical about the chances of any investigation being able to use any evidence to prove Johnson misled parliament. “It’s not clear how we’d show that intent was incontrovertible,” a source said.


…which strikes me as a bit like saying that watching pinocchio’s nose grow in real time is the furthest thing from being plain as the nose on your face…but…it’s not really surprising…or even the biggest line of bullshit they’re currently hawking

Humanity isn’t the Home Office’s strongest suit. But then, neither is communication. Last week Richard Harrington, the refugees minister, was asked by the broadcaster LBC if the government had any plans to offshore refugees to Rwanda. He replied with an unambiguous no. He had no clue where such an idea might have come from. No one in the Home Office had discussed anything like this with him. It was a non-story; scare tactics from paranoid liberals trying to discredit Priti Patel. Not that the home secretary needs any help. She never fails to discredit herself.

Some had thought the timing was all a bit too convenient. After days of bad headlines about the prime minister’s own criminality, a chance to move things on with a policy that would go down a storm with red wall Tory voters before the May local elections and piss off just about everyone with a moral conscience. It was that cynical. All the more so because the Kigali hostel could well remain empty for years as civil rights lawyers take the government to court for acting illegally. The Potemkin Pleasuredome.

…now those local elections…if they go badly for the tories…which bizarrely is by no means certain…wouldn’t change the makeup of parliament (they’re for local council seats not about MPs)…but could be interpreted as a sign to sharpen the knives, dust off the appropriate letterheads & dash off enough letters to the 1922 committee to kick of a vote of no confidence…because as anyone can clearly see no level of self-serving hypocrisy is too blatant to be considered as appropriate behavior where the tory party is concerned

But the reality was that it was more like killing two birds with one stone. Sure, it was good to talk about something other than Partygate, but the Convict and Patel had genuinely been working on the deranged plan for months, despite the best efforts of civil servants to talk them out of it, and were finally ready to put their idiocy and cruelty on view. And still no one had thought to keep Lord Harrington in the loop.

…now there’s no particular reason anyone would know who “Lord Harrington” might be…at least not outside of watford…which is where he’s apparently lord of…but for the record he’s (at least nominally) the minister (of state) for refugees…so you might be forgiven for assuming that a months-long effort to find somewhere that would agree to let the UK dump inconvenient refugees & migrants on (that would be a sufficiently unpalatable destination as to have a discouraging effect on prospective arrivals to stop them paying through the nose to get crammed onto frequently unseaworthy boats in order to risk their lives crossing the channel) would be one that found a moment somewhere along the way to remember that was supposedly his business

Johnson started with the usual waffle. The stuff he needs to tell himself each morning so he can drag himself out of his bed and look in the mirror. Somehow he has to find a way of convincing himself he’s a decent man. Not some lying narcissist who will do and say anything to get him through the day relatively unscathed. So he mumbled something about Britain’s fine history of openness and generosity to refugees.
[side note:] The UK is the fifth or sixth largest economy and takes just 0.2% of the world’s refugees.[Yes, it’s an island…& not getting any bigger…but…open & generous is a bit of a stretch]

Then the Convict got down to the nitty gritty. He wanted to stop the trade in people trafficking. But he didn’t want to do it by making it easier for people to claim asylum in the country. At present refugees are stuck in a catch-22. They can only claim asylum once they are in the UK but the only way to get here is illegally. Johnson didn’t want to address that. What he proposed was that any asylum seekers – including Ukrainians without a visa – who reached the UK without having been pushed back and drowned while crossing the Channel would be rounded up by the army and given a one-way ticket to Rwanda. Where they could rot while their applications were processed. And if they were cold, wet and frightened then so much the better. Teach them not to come to the UK.

Then things just turned surreal. First, the Convict tried to portray Rwanda as some kind of tropical human rights paradise. Regardless of the fact that it was a dictatorship that the UK had condemned for human rights violations. Then he tried to claim the programme would be a bargain. Ignoring the fact that some Tory MPs had estimated it would be cheaper to put all the refugees up at the Ritz. But he saved the best till last. This was necessary because he was a firm believer in the rule of law. From the man who has shown a spectacular disregard for it since he became prime minister. Keep those fixed-penalty notices coming.
About an hour later, we disappeared through the looking-glass. Here we had Patel, as vicious as she is half-witted, in Kigali. Back in the 60s her parents had fled Uganda. Now she was proposing to send terrified refugees to a neighbouring country whose own citizens seek sanctuary elsewhere. Priti Vacant looked a bit glum as she read out all the positives of the programme, but cheered up when she remembered it was all lies and that the refugees would be banged up in a hostel after all. This was her life’s work and she could die happy.


…which…whatever way you spin it…reads the same

…after all…when it comes to the relationship between what the reality of something looks like…something that’s literally only a “let me google that for you” away…even in a US in which cumulatively going on for one in four people have contracted the virus we apparently shouldn’t be concerned about any longer…at a loss of something in the region of one 9/11 per million of the population

(…no, really…if you set the drop-downs for “cases” from that first link to “per 1 million people”, “United States”, “All regions” it returns a figure of 2,997 whilst that second link gives a total of 2,996…which might not make it a million times worse…but back in 2020 the US population was around 329.5 million…so…I expect you can do the math)

…something like this

A federal judge in Florida has struck down Joe Biden’s national mask mandate covering airplanes, airports and other public transportation, prompting the White House to announce the rule would not be enforced while federal agencies decide how to respond to the judge’s order.
The mandate was overturned on Monday by the US district judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, who judged the rule as exceeding the authority of US health officials in the coronavirus pandemic.

She added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule-making procedures.

In her 59-page ruling, Mizelle said the only remedy was to vacate the rule entirely because it would be impossible to end it for the limited group who objected to it in the lawsuit.

The judge said: “A limited remedy would be no remedy at all.” She added that the courts had full authority to make a decision such as this – even if the goals of the CDC in fighting the virus were laudable.

“Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate,” she wrote.

…it’s kind of a stretch to even refer to that as logic…but it does handily reinforce one particular definition

Mizelle is an appointee of Donald Trump. She was rated “not qualified” to serve as a federal judge by the American Bar Association at the time she was nominated. She was confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate in a party-line vote.


…because of course they fucking did…& this kind of ass-backwards batshittery is precisely for why

…although quite frankly that gives mr unpresidented the multiply impeached entirely too much credit…claiming he had any coherent intention beyond “the law” conforming to whatever narrative suits him in the moment presupposes an intellectual capacity he has never once publicly demonstrated…but I guess that’s besides the point

Republican structural advantages, while real, did not then prevent Democrats from reclaiming the House of Representatives in 2018 and the presidency in 2020 and Senate in 2021. […]

The political landscape after 2024, however, might look more like liberalism’s depictions of its Trump-era plight. According to calculations by liberalism’s Cassandra, David Shor, the convergence of an unfavorable Senate map for Democrats with their pre-existing Electoral College and Senate disadvantages could easily produce a scenario where the party wins 50 percent of the congressional popular vote, 51 percent of the presidential vote — and ends up losing the White House and staring down a nearly filibuster-proof Republican advantage in the Senate.

That’s a scenario for liberal horror, but it’s not one that conservatives should welcome either.

…now, being as these are the words of one ross douthat…you’ll doubtless need to break out the mother of all pinches of salt to take that with…but…it surely says something that even he can’t find a way to excuse the weakness of the argument at play?

In recent years, as their advantages in both institutions have increased, conservatives have defended institutions like the Senate and the Electoral College with variations of the argument that the United States is a democratic republic, not a pure democracy.

These arguments carry less weight, however, the more consistently undemocratic the system’s overall results become. (They would fall apart completely in the scenario sought by Donald Trump and some of his allies after 2020, where state legislatures simply substitute their preferences for the voters’ in their states.)

[…] a scenario where one party has sustained governing power while lacking majoritarian support is a recipe for delegitimization and reasonable disillusionment, which no clever conservative column about the constitutional significance of state sovereignty would adequately address.

Will Democrats Soon Be Locked Out of Power? [NYT]

…but then you can’t see daylight between two things if you’re far enough down the proverbial rabbit hole

Now, some of the same confidants who tried and failed to invalidate the results based on a set of bogus legal theories are pushing an even wilder sequel: that by “decertifying” the 2020 vote in key states, the outcome can still be reversed.

In statehouses and courtrooms across the country, as well as on right-wing news outlets, allies of Mr. Trump — including the lawyer John Eastman — are pressing for states to pass resolutions rescinding Electoral College votes for President Biden and to bring lawsuits that seek to prove baseless claims of large-scale voter fraud. Some of those allies are casting their work as a precursor to reinstating the former president.

The efforts have failed to change any statewide outcomes or uncover mass election fraud. Legal experts dismiss them as preposterous, noting that there is no plausible scenario under the Constitution for returning Mr. Trump to office.

…not that being plausible has had anything to do with any of this for what feels like as long as I can remember

“At the moment, there is no other way to say it: This is the clearest and most present danger to our democracy,” said J. Michael Luttig, a leading conservative lawyer and former appeals court judge, for whom Mr. Eastman clerked and whom President George W. Bush considered as a nominee to be the chief justice of the United States. “Trump and his supporters in Congress and in the states are preparing now to lay the groundwork to overturn the election in 2024 were Trump, or his designee, to lose the vote for the presidency.”
The fringe legal theory that Mr. Eastman and Mr. Epshteyn are promoting — which has been widely dismissed — holds that state lawmakers have the power to choose how electors are selected, and they can change them long after the Electoral College has certified votes if they find fraud and illegality sufficiently altered the outcome. The theory has surfaced in multiple states, including several that are political battlegrounds.
Mr. Bannon, Mr. Lindell and Mr. Epshteyn have repeatedly promoted decertification at the state level on Mr. Bannon’s podcast, “War Room,” since last summer, pushing it as a steady drumbeat and at times claiming that it could lead to Mr. Trump being put back into office. They have described the so-called audit movement that began in Arizona and spread to other states as part of a larger effort to decertify electoral votes.

Fifteen months after they tried and failed to overturn the 2020 election, the same group of lawyers and associates is continuing efforts to “decertify” the vote, feeding a false narrative. [NYT]

…& if all that has you feeling like you might have a headache coming on…you’re not alone

When a group of researchers trawled through over 350 scientific publications on headaches, they found that 52 percent of people worldwide have experienced a headache disorder in the past year.
The researchers estimate that on any given day, 15.8 percent of people worldwide have a headache.

More than 50 percent of people worldwide have headache disorders [WaPo]

…although in some cases it seems like they’d prefer someone else inherit theirs

So far, 30 Democrats have announced their retirements compared with 17 Republicans. This has led GOP officials to charge that Democrats are heading for the exits because they are afraid of tough re-election fights this fall or because they believe Republicans will gain control of the House next year, relegating Democrats to the minority.
Historically, the number of retirements within a party has served as a good indication of how the midterm elections will go. For instance, ahead of the 2018 midterms, when the electoral terrain was favorable to Democrats, 41 Republicans announced their retirement or their seats were open for other reasons compared with 22 Democrats. Republicans suffered a loss of 40 seats in that election.


…& of course…particularly post citizens united…money talks

The Make America Great Again, Again! Inc. super PAC isn’t the flagship of former president Donald Trump’s political fundraising operation. The super PAC brought in $4.3 million in the first quarter of the year — a fraction of the $19 million that Trump’s Save America Joint Fundraising Committee raised in the same period.

But Make America Great Again, Again! has a crucial advantage: Unlike Trump’s PAC, the super PAC can accept massive checks from Trump’s richest backers.

Among the super PAC’s top donors in the first three months of the year: Caryn Borland, whose support for the QAnon conspiracy theory led former vice president Mike Pence to cancel a 2020 fundraiser that she and her husband were set to host for him, and the trash collection mogul Anthony Lomangino, each of whom gave $250,000. So did a company linked to the Texas road construction baron Doug Pitcock.

More than a dozen additional donors gave at least $100,000 to the super PAC, including the Texas oil magnate S. Javaid Anwar and Kent Hance, the Republican lobbyist and former congressman.
While Trump’s political operation has more than twice as much cash on hand as the Republican National Committee does, the biggest Republican donors aren’t directing their efforts to helping Trump. They’re giving to Republican super PACs seeking to win back the House and Senate this fall.

Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman and chief executive of Blackstone, gave $10 million to Senate Leadership Fund, the flagship super PAC backing Republican Senate candidates. He kicked in another $10 million to Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC supporting Republican House candidates.

Among Senate Leadership Fund’s other top donors: the hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who gave $5 million, and Rupert Murdoch, who gave $2 million. Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone; the early Home Depot investor Walter Buckley Jr.; the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer; and Chevron each gave $1 million.

Among Congressional Leadership Fund’s other top donors: Griffin, who gave $7.5 million (and who told the Wall Street Journal’s John McCormick that he’d given more than $18 million in total to five conservative groups this year); the investor Charles Schwab, who gave $1.5 million; and the Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, who gave $1.2 million.


…mind you…while that sort of thing might add up…it can seem like they’d rather people didn’t learn “the wrong sort of math”

What happened in Florida, though, is perhaps the quintessential deployment of CRT as a right-wing bugaboo. The state rejected a number of math textbooks and issued a news release citing critical race theory as a rationale for at least some of those rejections — and then didn’t bother to demonstrate how those books actually incorporated critical race theory.

All of the political benefit; none of the administrative legwork.
If you’re curious what that means — what a math problem with “critical race theory in it” would look like — you’re not alone. I contacted the Florida Department of Education to ask, without receiving any response. I contacted several publishers of books that were rejected by the state to see if they’d received any guidance about the reason for being rejected, and have not yet heard back.

It’s worth noting, though, that most of those publishers who had books rejected also had books that were accepted by the state. You can compare the two yourself; the lists of respondents to the state’s bid for providing math textbooks and the list of approved books are both online. So, for example, we see that “HMH Florida’s B.E.S.T. Go Math!” textbook from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was turned down, but its “HMH Florida’s BEST Into Math” book was accepted. (BEST is a reference to the state’s “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking” educational standards.) This both indicates that the company would not be particularly eager to criticize a state that is poised to buy thousands of its books — but also, contrary to Nuñez’s point, that publishers aren’t “systematically” trying to “infiltrate” schools with critical race theory. Unless, of course, HMH’s deployment of critical race theory in the latter book was so sneaky that it even managed to evade Florida’s adept CRT censors.

What’s interesting is that the state’s initial news release doesn’t even allege that critical race theory was a significant component of what it rejected.
DeSantis’s enthusiastic press secretary, Christina Pushaw, defended her boss’s stated rationale by sharing examples on social media — not of critical race theory in a Florida math book, mind you, but of a worksheet handed out in a math class in Missouri that wasn’t part of the school’s curriculum.
Perhaps the state will at some future point offer an example of where critical race theory was present in one of the rejected textbooks. That it wants credit for turning away the enemy at the gates without showing there was any enemy in the first place, though, is worth noting.

It’s also worth noting that two-thirds of the publishers that had math books rejected also had math books accepted for use. You can check my math, but that seems to reflect an awfully shoddy attempt to indoctrinate children.


…all in all asking what it all adds up to isn’t a recipe for feeling better about much

Child poverty is bad. I think we can all agree on that, right? Americans are divided on lots of issues but it’s reasonable to suppose that, no matter where someone sits on the political spectrum, they would want kids to have enough to eat. Right?

Wrong. As it turns out an awful lot of politicians have no issue at all with kids going hungry. Last year the federal government lifted millions of American children out of poverty with the stroke of a pen when it expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) as part of the American Recovery Plan. There was nothing particularly revolutionary about this policy: lots of rich countries provide some version of a universal child benefit. But, while it wasn’t revolutionary on a global scale, the CTC transformed the US: monthly child poverty was slashed by roughly 30%. About 3.7 million children saw their lives improve. And then, at the end of 2021, the CTC expired and congress failed to extend it. Those 3.7 million kids went hungry again; a February study found that child poverty increased by 41% in after the program expired. In short: a wildly successful policy that improved millions of people’s lives was simply chucked away.

Republicans – the party that loves loudly proclaiming how “pro-life” they are and how much they care about family values – are largely to blame for the CTC expiring. Every single Republican in congress opposed extending the CTC. Joe Manchin, a supposed Democrat, also helped kill the program; he reportedly told colleagues that he worried that parents would waste the money they were being given on drugs. Did he have any evidence for this? No, of course not. In fact, studies show that 91% of households making less than $35,000 a year used the money to pay for food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.
The short-lived CTC reveals one of the big lies in politics: the idea that it’s far too difficult to do anything about big problems like poverty. As the brief success of the CTC demonstrates, simply giving families a little more money pays massive dividends. We know how to make people’s lives better, we just lack the political will to do so.


…& while we’re on the subject of what things add up to…& manchin…well

…so…to put it mildly there’s a lot of other shit going on out there…perhaps most obviously in ukraine…but less straightforward conflicts in places like pakistan or cases of covid-regulation-induced starvation in places like shanghai or the continuing threat that france might vote for little miss nazi lite…but once again…I’m out of time…& hoping that doesn’t go for all of us

Jamie Raskin on the climate crisis: ‘We’ve got to save democracy in order to save our species’ [Guardian]

…I guess it depends on your philosophy?



  1. Not surprised it had to be one of the unqualified idiots on the bench.

    The problem with politicizing a disease as the GOPers have is that it don’t care about your freedumbz or if you believe which is why the GOPers are killing their own supporters.


    BoJo makes me miss the days of the Pig Fucker, er, David Cameron.


    Banned Math Equations

    1. E = 1/2 *M*C^2

    2. If Bubba Jo Dumbass and Quintly Prufrock XIII own 20 slaves each in 1861 then how many slaves did Abraham Lincoln free in 1865 when the North finally curb stomped the South in the US Civil War?

    3. If 20% of the population of the US (assume 330 million) are petulant shitheads who won’t get vaccinated AND CoVID19 has an infection rate of 5% AND a death rate of 0.05% AND only 15% of the the 20% petulant shitheads are Democrats then how many GOPers will die from CoVID?

  2. British authorities jetting refugees and migrants off to Rwanda seems very bizarre but it has at least two precedents. The government itself says it was based on something called  something like “The Australia Plan.” What Australia did (and maybe still does) is detain migrants and refugees and then relocates them to a remote island (Nauru or Manus). Then there’s Israel who, not in control of a convenient island in the Mediterranean, used to or maybe still does relocate theirs to…Rwanda. I read somewhere that almost everyone sent by Israel to Rwanda found some way to leave/escape.

  3. Ain’t none of that good, but I appreciate @SplinterRIP for taking the time and effort to enumerate some of the many ways the world is going to hell.  At least I’m pretty sure my mood today can only improve from here.

    • …I feel compelled to point out that I’m honestly grateful you folks don’t elect to shoot the messenger every time I post these…so I’m glad to hear I might be getting the low point of your day out of the way early enough to allow for a substantial recovery

      …that almost sounds like a plan?

    • That’s a very good question. Getting rid of Trump toadies should have been high on Biden’s priority list, and it’s not happening (See also: DeJoy, Louis). Democrats are going to dick around until they lose the Senate and the House and then wring their hands and go “Oh, noes, what shall we do? This is horrible and we are doomed!”

  4. …in the event that anyone can bring themselves to care…boris made his apologies in the house of parliament a little while ago

    …funny thing, though…he used the words “apologise” & “unreservedly”…but…well…if you say that but then also say a bunch of other shit like “it never occurred to me either at the time or later that a gathering of people (in advance of a terribly important meeting that lets me squeeze a direct reference to covid into this speech as though I was somehow dealing with that) in a room where the cabinet meet could possibly constitute a breach of the rules I said repeatedly weren’t breached”

    …literally all that other shit is what people with access to a dictionary would call “reservations” vis-à-vis that whole apology thing

    …given all the other aspects of the thing that are liable to make me feel pissed off perhaps I ought to be able to overlook that one…but…turns out I can’t…it royally fucking wound me up?

  5. I’m getting on a plane Thursday and I’m low-level fucking panicking about it.

    Which is silly because I have very recent antibodies from my own covid infection. But I had planned on doublemasking with surgical masks and now I’m like welp that ain’t enough.

    Anyways, CVS has N95s and they’re giving away 3 per customer where I’m at. I guess I’m wearing an N95 all damn day now.

    • From what my wife tells me she has learned from medical journals, if you have had the 2 shots & the booster & got the virus, you are the least likely of anyone to get it again.  She thinks you can’t get it at all again for over 30 days but this is an ever changing virus & I wouldn’t take my medical advice.

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