Notes and Comment Blog

Who is doing the grabbing?

Apr 26th, 2017 12:54 pm | By

Trump wants to claw back the national monuments – claw them back from the people in order to give them to developers and ranchers.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday directing his interior secretary to review the designation of dozens of national monuments on federal lands, as he singled out “a massive federal land grab” by the Obama administration.

It was yet another executive action from a president trying to rack up accomplishments before his first 100 days in office, with Saturday marking that milestone.

The latest move could upend protections put in place in Utah and other states under a 1906 law that authorizes the president to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

During a signing ceremony at the Interior Department, Trump said the order would end “another egregious abuse of federal power” and “give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs.”

Trump accused the Obama administration of using the Antiquities Act to “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control” — a practice Trump derided as “a massive federal land grab.”

It’s not an abuse of federal power. Yellowstone and Yosemite and the Grand Canyon do not represent abuses of federal power. Trump is a grubby philistine.

And it’s certainly not a land grab. The point is to preserve the land, which is the opposite of grabbing it. It’s the people who want to turn it into cash who are grabby.

“Somewhere along the way the Act has become a tool of political advocacy rather than public interest,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said.

Advocacy of what? Preservation and perpetual non-destructive public use? Which is in the public interest?

In December, shortly before leaving office, President Barack Obama infuriated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on more than 1 million acres of land that’s sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

Republicans in the state asked Trump to take the unusual step of reversing Obama’s decision. They said the designation will stymie growth by closing the area to new commercial and energy development. The Antiquities Act does not give the president explicit power to undo a designation and no president has ever taken such a step.

So it will stymie growth (if that’s true), so what? Not everything has to grow.

Zinke said that over the past 20 years, the designation of tens of millions of acres as national monuments have limited the lands’ use for farming, timber harvesting, mining and oil and gas exploration, and other commercial purposes.

Yes, obviously. That’s the point.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said that if Trump truly wants to make America great again, he should use the law to protect and conserve America’s public lands. In New Mexico, Obama’s designation of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument have preserved important lands while boosting the economy, Heinrich said, and that story has repeated across the country.

“If this sweeping review is an excuse to cut out the public and scale back protections, I think this president is going to find a very resistant public,” Heinrich said.

Leaders of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition called Trump’s action “extremely troubling.”

“It is offensive for politicians to call the Bears Ears National Monument ‘an abuse,’” said Shaun Chapoose, chairman of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee. “To the contrary, it is a fulfillment of our duty to preserve our cultures and our ancestral lands, and its designation was the result of a long, deliberative process to fight for our ancestors as well as access for contemporary use of the lands by our tribal members.”

And that could be the case even if more Utahans wanted to farm and mine and develop that land. If a gang of people come along and grab my wallet, they don’t have a better claim to it than I do. Numbers are not always decisive.

See Don run

Apr 26th, 2017 9:30 am | By

Oh god why do they do this? Why do they parade their rudeness and bad behavior in public?

Brad Jaffy tweets two photos, one of the Prime Minister’s office readout of Trudeau’s phone call with Trump, the other the White House readout of the same call.

Or maybe it’s more cowardice than laziness. Business Insider elaborates:

The US and Canada are embroiled in an escalating fight over trade policy, and the tensions between the close allies seemed evident in the readouts both countries released of a phone call on Tuesday between US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s office’s readout of the call included several details of the conversation.

“The prime minister and the president reaffirmed the importance of the mutually beneficial Canada-US trade relationship,” Canada’s readout said. “On the issue of softwood lumber, the prime minister refuted the baseless allegations by the US Department of Commerce and the decision to impose unfair duties.”

“Unfair duties” was a reference to Trump’s decision on Tuesday to impose a 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

Who is Trump’s expert on lumber imports? One of his grandchildren perhaps?

The two leaders also discussed the dispute over the Canadian dairy industry that Trump has recently highlighted. He has accused Canada of taking advantage of US dairy farmers.

“The prime minister and the president also discussed Canada-US trade in dairy products, trade which heavily favours the US: Canada imports over $550 million of dairy products from the US, but exports just over $110 million to the US,” Canada’s readout of the call said.

“The prime minister reaffirmed that Canada upholds its international trade obligations, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, under which the US continues to have duty-free and quota-free access for milk protein substances … and that Canada would continue to defend its interests,” the statement continued. “The prime minister and the president agreed to continue their dialogue on these important bilateral issues.”

The White House readout was insultingly shorter and more perfunctory.

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke today,” the White House’s readout said. “The two leaders discussed the dairy trade in Wisconsin, New York state, and various other places. They also discussed lumber coming into the United States. It was a very amicable call.”

No, it wasn’t. That’s that Trump nonsense about “chemistry” again. However polite Trudeau was (because he’s an adult and a professional), the substance of the call was obviously not amicable.

The frontlines of white fragility

Apr 25th, 2017 5:39 pm | By

A public Facebook post about the March for Science:

First of all, we wish to humbly say to our POC communities and Indigenous friends and relatives that we do not wish to speak for all POC or Indigenous peoples. Resisting this white supremacist system, however, means that we #WoCSpeakOut sisters continuously put ourselves on the frontlines of white fragility in order to serve our own communities. We are trying, through our presence, to uplift the voices of our people.

In that vein, we attempted, multiple times, to reach out to the March for Science-Seattle organizers (with other POC and some of our white allies) to advise them on how to make their event less racist/elitist/colonialist/sexist. We put forward a list of detailed strongly worded “suggestions” to help make the March for Science have an actual positive impact for the social justice movement. We hoped to help make the March more in line with the true values of our grassroots community.

Our list was not ALL the MfS organizers should have done, it was a list of suggestions on how to begin this process.

The March for Science organizers REJECTED our suggestions and REFUSED to work with us because they wanted to only work with “evidence-based people”. Our lived experience meant nothing to them. Our perspective as POC meant nothing to them. This elitism, racism, sexism, and classism is why we will not be at the MfS tomorrow and why we reject and denounce the MfS in Seattle and around the so-called United States.

This is the kind of thing that makes everybody think the left is disappearing up its own ass.

Why should anyone’s “lived experience” mean something to people organizing a march for science? People on the left really need to stop talking in the language of Chronic Self-obsession, because there is nothing lefty about Chronic Self-obsession. Science as an institution should make every effort to be less white and less male, but that doesn’t mean it’s required to take advice from everyone who offers it.

So here are a few of their “suggestions” [scare-quotes theirs].

Dear Western White Cis Male Scientific Community:

1. We need a great deal of healing before the scientific community can be credible to the general public in terms of equity and “inclusivity” (inclusivity is a white supremacist term, implies that they are doing minorities a favor instead of simply doing the right thing).

2. In order for the scientific community to begin regaining trust of POC and marginalized people, they need to openly acknowledge how they have failed us for decades with their inaction on climate change. They must openly acknowledge that they have failed the Global South, POC, poor people, Indigenous peoples, and Womxn.

Their inaction on climate change? That would be politicians and corporations and consumers, not scientists. Science as a discipline or community or profession is, just for one thing, the only reason we know anything about climate change. Science has gathered the evidence, and science has done its best to communicate it to the rest of us. Put the blame for inaction where it belongs.

4. In their values they say “Science is the BEST method for understanding the world”. This will greatly offend Indigenous communities, POC, and faith communities. This divisive messaging should be muted to “Science is an EXCELLENT method to understand the world”.


5. Earth Day is EARTH DAY, not “Science Day”. This must be openly acknowledged and they need to be humble in their messaging to honor Mother Earth. Co-optation of this day for the ego of the scientific community will not be tolerated by POCs or Indigenous communities.

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Mother Earth” is a metaphor. The bullying language is childish and repellent.

6. There must be Indigenous women who are grassroots activists on the march steering committee, as well as WOC and other POC such as Queer and Trans POC.

7. Their paid organizer for the March must be a POC from the grassroots racial justice community, NOT a white person or a colonized POC who is trained to obey the system.

They were right to put scare-quotes on “suggestions” – all those “must”s are commands, not suggestions. This statement is enough to make me want to go watch Fox News or something.

There are 19 suggestions commands total. Enjoy.

His good friend

Apr 25th, 2017 5:08 pm | By

Trump did a little statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday.

Astonishingly, he interrupts even that to mention his election. He interrupts in the second sentence to talk about his election.

I am deeply honored to speak with you tonight, as the World Jewish Congress gathers in New York City with the leaders from across the world.

First, I want to thank Ronald Lauder, not only for his many years of friendship – and he truly has been my good friend, he even predicted early that I was going to win the presidency – but also for his leadership of this organization. He has done a fantastic job.

Holocaust blah blah, six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide – did I mention I won the election? – We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found, and also I won the election. Thank you and good night.

More fake outrage

Apr 25th, 2017 4:20 pm | By

There’s a guy called Corey Stewart who wants to be governor of Virginia. He calls himself a Conservative Republican; I think he means a Trumpian. He’s losing his shit (and trawling for votes) over the statue removal horror.

Nothing? Nothing at all? War, famine, torture? Slavery? I think those are worse.

Also, as many tweets pointed out, he’s from Minnesota.

He’s still on it though.

Or the Parthenon, or Machu Picchu, or Angkor Wat, or the Great Wall. Just imagine!

To honor members of the Crescent City White League

Apr 25th, 2017 12:01 pm | By

Last night in New Orleans:

New Orleans on Monday began removing four monuments dedicated to the era of the Confederacy and its aftermath, capping a prolonged battle about the future of the memorials, which critics deemed symbols of racism and intolerance and which supporters viewed as historically important.

Workers dismantled an obelisk, which was erected in 1891 to honor members of the Crescent City White League who in 1874 fought in the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place against the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.

That is of course “historically important” but not in the sense of “needs preservation in situ.” It’s historically very important that the South successfully resisted and defeated Reconstruction, but that doesn’t mean that monuments honoring that resistance are part of our Precious Heritage and must be retained. The monument honored the resistance. The resistance was all about keeping brown people forever subjugated. That’s not something we should keep on honoring with monuments.

The monument, which was sometimes used as a rallying point by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, has stirred debate for decades. Local leaders unsuccessfully tried to remove it in 1981 and 1993.

The workers were dressed in flak jackets, helmets and scarves to conceal their identities because of concerns about their safety. Police officers watched from a nearby hotel.

The monument was taken away on flatbed trucks.

The monuments were erected decades after the Civil War ended by people who wanted to demonstrate that the South should feel no guilt in having fought the war, the mayor’s statement said.

And no guilt in having fought to defend the institution of slavery.

The debate over Confederate symbols has taken center stage since nine people were killed at a black church in South Carolina in June 2015. South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag, which flew at its State House for more than 50 years, and other Southern cities have considered taking down monuments.

Harcourt Fuller, an assistant professor of history at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and a scholar of national and regional symbolism, said in an email that supporters of the monuments see them as part of their “historical and cultural legacy that needs to be maintained and protected.

“We’re talking largely about these concrete symbols,” he added. “By themselves, they’re lifeless. They’re not living symbols. But we as citizens project our own historical values onto them.”

And then we shoot up black churches.

The Liberty Place monument, which was 35 to 40 feet tall, commemorated a violent uprising by white Democrats against the racial integration of the city’s police force and the Republicans who governed Louisiana. The White League won the battle and forcibly removed the governor, but federal troops arrived three days later to return the governor to power.

The battle remained an important symbol to those who resisted Reconstruction, the period of transforming Confederate states after the Civil War. From 1932 until 1993, the monument bore a plaque that said, in part, that the “national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state,” the city statement said.

It wasn’t just the “period of transforming Confederate states” – it was the period of trying to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment in the South, of trying to establish and entrench a regime of civil rights, of trying to block efforts to reinstate slavery via Jim Crow laws. Generations of African Americans were much worse off because white supremacists successfully resisted.

Evil god strikes again

Apr 25th, 2017 11:34 am | By

The IHEU reports another freethinker slaughtered.

Yameen Rasheed (29) was well-known in the Maldives as a satirist, taking shots at the government, or at Islamist radicals, all the time promoting the values of secularism and democracy that he obviously held dear.

He was found dead in the early hours of Sunday morning, stabbed to death in the stairwell of his apartment.

The IHEU met Yameen Rasheed earlier this year, during his visit to the Human Rights Council with Forum Asia. He spoke on a panel with Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who herself survived a machete attack in 2015 during which her husband Avijit Roy was killed.

IHEU Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth’s O’Casey, kept in touch with Rasheed after meeting him at the event. Rasheed updated the IHEU on death threats against himself and other secularists, and IHEU raised his case with Ahmed Shaheed (the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief).

“I have just heard the horrific news that the world has lost an incredibly intelligent, articulate, kind and courageous man: Yameen Rasheed. I liked him enormously, although I did not know him well enough – to my eternal regret,” said Elizabeth O’Casey today. “And he has now been brutally murdered. And the secularist human rights community has lost yet another light, another blogger and activist, and the world is darker because of it.”

The IHEU joins Forum Asia and PEN International in calling for a full, transparent, impartial investigation, and supports the call by opposition figures for international involvement in the inquiry.

This god hides from us, but wants us murdered if we don’t believe it exists. Could there be anything more tyrannical?

White House to Committee: No

Apr 25th, 2017 10:24 am | By

It appears that the White House has refused to provide documents requested by the House Oversight committee investigating Flynn.

Also, the leaders of the committee say Flynn probably broke the law.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn probably broke the law by failing to disclose foreign income he earned from Russia and Turkey, the heads of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), said they believe Flynn neither received permission nor fully disclosed income he earned for a speaking engagement in Russia and lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance. They reached this conclusion after viewing two classified memos and a financial disclosure form in a private briefing Tuesday morning.

Chaffetz and Cummings stressed that as a former military officer, Flynn would have needed special permission for his appearance at a gala sponsored by RT, the Russian-government-funded television station, for which he was paid $45,000. For his work lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, he was paid more than $500,000.

“It does not appear that was ever sought, nor did he get that permission,” Chaffetz said.

That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a former military officer could just not be aware of.

The Oversight Committee asked the White House in March for documents pertaining to Flynn’s security-clearance applications, the vetting that occurred before he was named national security adviser, and all of his contacts with foreign agents, including any payments received. In particular, the committee heads requested to see a disclosure form known as the SF-86, on which Flynn was obligated to declare any foreign income.

On April 19, the White House sent the committee a reply, stating that any documents related to Flynn from before Jan. 20 — the day President Trump took office — were not in its possession, and that any documents from after that date did not seem relevant to the committee’s investigation.

“The White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request,” Cummings said.

Not good.

The O’Reilly Factor wasn’t a performance

Apr 25th, 2017 9:45 am | By

Courtney Martin has experience of doing O’Reilly’s horrible show.

I was in my late 20s and headed to The O’Reilly Factor to defend now-deceased journalist Helen Thomas. O’Reilly had referred to her as the “Wicked Witch of the East,” and I was joining the show to argue that the most veteran White House correspondent (she covered 10 presidencies) should be evaluated on the basis of her reporting — not on her appearance or age.

Political correctness run riot! Victimhood! Snowflake! Of course women should be attacked for being old and ugly; it makes them stronger! Old ugly women should be thanking people like O’Reilly for this quick and easy strengthening exercise.

She got the makeup and hair treatment and they sat her down on the set.

O’Reilly walked in a few moments later; sat down in his chair, which was raised several inches above all the others; swiveled toward me; and without so much as a hello, barked, “Do you even know what you’re here to talk about?”

Ah his chair was raised. Of course it was. I’ve always hated the way he looms over people and shouts them down, but I never watched him enough to figure out that his chair was higher. Doesn’t that just stand for the whole thing – the bully ethos writ large.

Though I’d written multiple books by then, my chyron simply read “Feminist” — a telling sign in and of itself as to what O’Reilly and his team thought about my credentials. In their world, either you’re an old hag, like Helen Thomas, or you’re a rabid feminist, like me. None of our actual work meant shit inside of O’Reilly’s studio. Our value was our capacity to fill roles in his own bizarro world of extremes, not our knowledge or experience (as expertise is actually defined). Caricature is at the core of conservative media’s operating model; lure people like me on with the allure of five seconds of fame and a false sense of righteousness, and you’ve got yourself “good television.” Problem is, such “good television” creates hateful citizens. Real viewers saw the real world through O’Reilly’s notoriously reductive lens.

Did and still do.

She paid a price, of course.

When I got back to my apartment that night and opened my laptop, my jaw dropped at the number of new emails in my inbox. I’d never seen anything like it — email after email, hundreds over a few days, referring to me in every single sexist term you can imagine (and some you probably can’t). To make things really meta, the majority of them attacked my appearance…When I was getting my makeup done before the show started, I had chatted with the producer a bit, realizing that we had gone to the same high school back in Colorado Springs. So when the flood of misogyny came, I thought I’d let him know. He seemed like a decent guy. His response? In a nutshell: “That’s horrible. We would never condone that kind of behavior.”

Condone? That would be timid. How about model and fuel? And, of course, now we know that O’Reilly wasn’t just modeling on-air, but behind the scenes, too.

Assholes gonna asshole.

Which is to say, The O’Reilly Factor wasn’t a performance. No matter how much conservative pundits (and probably a few liberal ones) would like to believe they are just “putting on a show” for their viewers, there are real consequences. Hearts and minds are shaped. Citizens are influenced…Is it any wonder that a reality television star was elected president when so many Americans have grown accustomed to watching bullies reduce people to types and fan the flames of fear every night on the news?

Is it any wonder a bully was elected president when so many Americans have grown accustomed to admiring bullies? No, it’s not.

Völlig absurd

Apr 25th, 2017 8:51 am | By

NPR also reports on that conference graced by the presence of Trump’s offspring.

Feminism was a central topic on the panel, as the moderator, who cited a “reluctance” to use the term, asked the panel to raise their hands if they consider themselves a feminist. Trump held up her hand, as did nearly everyone else on the stage.

“I do label myself a feminist, and I do think of that in broad terms,” she said later.

She has to think of it in very broad terms, doesn’t she, if she’s not going to ditch her father. A “feminism” that flatters a man who abuses women every chance he gets is so broad as to have no borders at all.

Discussing her father, Trump said the president agrees with her about the need to empower women, saying that he had encouraged her “to fully lean into this opportunity and come into the White House and be by his side” — and to take part in discussions like the Women20 Summit.

“This opportunity” – as if that’s what the presidency is: an “opportunity” for the whole family to get jobs they’re not qualified for. It’s “leaning in” to exploit nepotism as a path to a powerful job one is entirely unqualified for.

They’re such grifters.

But Trump’s earlier description of President Trump as a “tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive” was met with groans and hisses from the audience.

Way out of her depth

Apr 25th, 2017 8:25 am | By

Ivanka Trump is in Berlin to participate in an international summit on women’s entrepreneurship, just as if she were an important and knowledgeable person, as opposed to being a crass fashion marketer who is the daughter of the most incompetent president in US history.

She shouldn’t be there. She shouldn’t be in the administration and she shouldn’t be at this summit. She has no relevant qualifications, and she helps to enable her loathsome destructive father. She uses her father’s position to market her mediocre derivative fashion objects. She’s sleazy and corrupt as well as ignorant. She shouldn’t be there.

But on her first international trip as an official representative of the United States, the first daughter was put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.

“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” said the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”

We’re just as unfamiliar. “First daughter” isn’t a thing. Johnson didn’t make his daughters part of his administration. Bush junior didn’t make his daughters part of his administration. There’s a rule against nepotism in the White House which Trump is ignoring.

“Certainly not the latter,” Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well. … It has been a little under 100 days, and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”

She’s lying about “not the latter.” She’s been promoting her business herself, and Trump and his people have been promoting it for her. She owns shares in that hotel down the street from the White House. She’s just lying to deny that.

And yes, she’s unfamiliar with the “role,” and that’s why she shouldn’t be in it. She has no relevant education or experience.

She did not define what her new role as a senior White House official entailed but said she cares “very much about empowering women in the workplace” and defined her goal as enacting “incremental positive change. That is my goal. This is very early for me; I’m listening, learning.”

Right, and she also hopes to instrumentalize the outputs and operationalize the motivizors. In other words she has no ideas whatever and is just blathering. She shouldn’t be there. It’s “early” for her because she shouldn’t be there. A presidential administration shouldn’t be high school for top officials. She could be an intern if she weren’t a relative of the president, but she certainly could not be a top official with an office in the West Wing. She shouldn’t be there.

Trump, who was deeply involved with her father’s campaign and has been instrumental in his administration in the first three months in office, positioned herself as someone who is still in humbling listening-tour mode.

That’s no good. That’s all wrong. The job she has is not one for an apprentice. Top jobs in government are not supposed to be doled out to novices for on the job training. They’re supposed to go to experienced educated people who don’t need beginner’s lessons.

But she was booed and hissed at by the majority-women audience at the conference when she lauded her father for supporting paid-leave policies. “I’m very proud of my father’s advocacy,” she said, calling him “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

Yeah, fuck that. That’s the pussy-grabber she’s praising there. Fuck that. She shouldn’t be there.

Meckel, the moderator, pushed her to address the vocal disapproval from the audience.

“You hear the reaction from the audience,” she said. “I need to address one more point — some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empowerer for women.”

The pussy-grabber attitude? The attitude to Elizabeth Warren? The attitude to Hillary Clinton? The attitude to Alicia Machado? To name just a few of the many? So yeah, fuck off, Ivanka. You’re enabling a misogynist sexist bullying shit.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, that’s been perpetuated,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience.

It’s on Daddy’s twitter feed, Ivanka. “The media” didn’t put it there.

And despite being invited to attend the panel by Merkel in her role as a senior White House official, she defended her father from her vantage point of loyal daughter — a crouch familiar from when she was confronted by uncomfortable questions about her father on the campaign.

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.”

That doesn’t matter. We don’t care. He was comparatively decent to his daughter; duly noted, but that makes no difference whatsoever to how he treats women in general. It’s staggeringly narcissistic to try to tell us it does.

Discount for diplomats

Apr 24th, 2017 5:23 pm | By
Discount for diplomats

God damn. Worse again. The State Department was advertising Mar-a-Lago. Yes that’s right: the State Department was advertising Mar-a-Lago.

The State Department has removed a blog post that touted President Donald Trump’s personally owned private Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. The post was available to all embassies through Share America, a State Department program for US embassies.

“The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders,” a small message reads on the Share America website. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post”

The story is still up on the US Embassy in London’s website, but officials say the post is expected to be removed.

Yes it is. I clicked on that link in a hurry before they took it down, and there it is. Note the url:



Here’s what the STATE DEPARTMENT’S EMBASSY WEBSITE says about Trump’s expensive golf resort:

Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida estate, has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders.

The first meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping of China will take place April 6–7 at Mar-a-Lago, which is located at the heart of Florida’s Palm Beach community.

Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it. By visiting this “winter White House,” Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.

When socialite and cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post built Mar-a-Lago — Spanish for “Sea to Lake” — in 1927, she spared no expense. The 114-room mansion sits on 8 hectares of land, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and an inland waterway on the other.

Upon her death in 1973, she willed the estate to the U.S. government, intending it to be used as a winter White House for the U.S. president to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries.

Read the full story at ShareAmerica !

Ethics watchdogs and Democratic groups have been closely eyeing Trump’s ability to benefit his bottom line through the presidency and this blog post has some questioning whether the government is now helping publicize the property.

Questioning? I think they can skip the questioning. Of course it damn well is. This isn’t like writing a little piece about Hyannisport or the Crawford ranch, this is a very expensive for profit resort hotel open to the public. It’s disgusting that the State Department is promoting it.

Both Norm Eisen, former President Barack Obama’s ethics czar, and Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, said the blog post was a violation of federal law that restricts aspects of the government promoting a private business that benefits their superior, the president.

“This is outrageous, more exploitation of public office for Trump’s personal gain,” Eisen said. “Using the government’s megaphone to promote Mar-a-Lago” is like when Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide, urged people during a television interview to buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.

The man is scum.


Apr 24th, 2017 4:44 pm | By

It could all just end you know.

It seems eternal because it’s what we know…which is to say, it’s an illusion that it’s eternal, or even all that stable.

Rachel Nuwer wrote a long read on the subject for the BBC.

Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities. For example, the top 10% of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day.

Not to mention a lot of stuff we’re already familiar with, like the way poor people keep getting priced out of cities. I’m always wondering why that doesn’t lead to breakdown in the form of labor shortages.

“If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions.”

But instead of making rational choices we do things like electing Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, some experts believe such tough decisions exceed our political and psychological capabilities. “The world will not rise to the occasion of solving the climate problem during this century, simply because it is more expensive in the short term to solve the problem than it is to just keep acting as usual,” says Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. “The climate problem will get worse and worse and worse because we won’t be able to live up to what we’ve promised to do in the Paris Agreement and elsewhere.”

Because we’ll vote for people like Trump, who will make sure we don’t.

Complexity is expensive; it eats up a lot of resources. One explanation for the collapse of ancient Rome is that it got so complex it couldn’t keep up with the expense.

So far, modern Western societies have largely been able to postpone similar precipitators of collapse through fossil fuels and industrial technologies – think hydraulic fracturing coming along in 2008, just in time to offset soaring oil prices. Tainter suspects this will not always be the case, however. “Imagine the costs if we have to build a seawall around Manhattan, just to protect against storms and rising tides,” he says. Eventually, investment in complexity as a problem-solving strategy reaches a point of diminishing returns, leading to fiscal weakness and vulnerability to collapse. That is, he says “unless we find a way to pay for the complexity, as our ancestors did when they increasingly ran societies on fossil fuels.”

There will be refugees, and resistance to refugees – like now only more so.

Meanwhile, a widening gap between rich and poor within those already vulnerable Western nations will push society toward further instability from the inside. “By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority,” Randers says. “What will collapse is equity.”

By 2050? How about now? How about 1985 or so?

I don’t have anything cheerful to say about all this.

All stories matter

Apr 24th, 2017 11:54 am | By

The Times writes up the making of a tv serial based on The Handmaid’s Tale.

Before the series even debuts on Wednesday, April 26, references to “The Handmaid’s Tale” — shorthand for repressive patriarchy — seem ubiquitous. A photo of a group of male Republicans at the White House debating maternity services with nary a woman in sight earned the social media hashtag #Gilead. Last month, women in Handmaids’ red dresses and bonnets sat side-by-side in the Texas State Capitol to protest anti-abortion measures under consideration.

In short the dystopian premise is horrifyingly more plausible than it was a year ago.

It was still the Obama era when Hulu pursued the property two years ago, as part of a strategy to broaden its identity from a glorified video recorder to a producer of original programming. The showrunner Bruce Miller threw his hat in the ring when Ilene Chaiken, who had been developing the adaptation at MGM, departed for “Empire.” A veteran writer-producer on shows including “E.R.” and “Eureka,” Mr. Miller had been obsessed with the novel since reading it as an undergraduate at Brown, even having his agent continually check to see if the film or TV rights were available.

“Offred spoke to me,” Mr. Miller said. “She’s in this nightmarish situation but she keeps her funny cynicism and sarcasm. She finds really interesting ways to pull levers of power and express herself.”

But Mr. Miller wasn’t a shoo-in for showrunner because producers were looking for a woman, he recalled. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has been a seminal rite-of-passage novel for many young women for over three decades; a feminist sacred text.

“It’s sacred to me, too,” Mr. Miller said. “But I don’t feel like it’s a male or female story; it’s a survival story.”

Uhhhhhhhh…well that’s why the producers should have gone on looking for a woman until they found one. Here’s the thing: it is a “female” story. So much so. It’s about what life is like for actual women right now in some parts of the planet, like Saudi Arabia for instance. It’s not about what life is like for people in general in a theocracy, it’s about how theocracy grinds women into the dirt. It is a female story.


“I was incredibly, and am still incredibly mindful, of the fact that I’m a boy,” Mr. Miller said. “You always try to find people who support your deficits.”

To that end, when Mr. Miller finished writing the first two episodes, he sent them to Ms. Atwood; she approved. He made sure his writing staff was almost entirely female, and hired women to direct all but two of the 10 episodes.

I hope they’re all clear that it’s a patriarchal theocracy, not that other kind of theocracy. (That’s a joke, because all theocracies are patriarchal. That’s the point of them. The first thing Islamists do when they take over is shove all the women into hijab or worse.)

Gilead is not technically a futuristic society, but a backward (or sideways) glance. Ms. Atwood is something of a scholar of Puritanism, and she said every horrific episode in the story happened somewhere in history already, whether stonings or enslavement, reproductive restrictions or forbidding women to read.

“The theory being that if human beings have done it once they can do it again,” said Ms. Atwood, who recently received the National Book Critics Circle lifetime achievement award, and at 77, seems more current than ever.

Yeah those second-wavers, man.

The first step towards embracing femaleness

Apr 24th, 2017 10:36 am | By

I read this thing on a self-described trans dating site yesterday, and found it puzzling in several ways. It’s a “Femininity Guide For Trans Women.”

Trans Women are unapologetically fashion conscious; they have an insatiable desire to look more feminine.

That seems insulting. Surely trans women are like people in general: various. Surely they don’t all have an insatiable desire to look more feminine.

Also what is “feminine”? But more on that later.

Just like cisgender women, they always want to look younger and prettier.

That’s insulting to both. It’s not true that “cisgender” women always want to look younger and prettier. That’s a sexist and belittling stereotype about women.

However, after the sex reassignment surgery, many transgender women find themselves at the end of their wits on how to look more feminine. It is important for transsexual women to understand that clothes, cosmetics, and accessories are not the only aspects of femininity, as femininity encompasses more than physical appearance.

Yes, it also includes being weak and submissive. Welcome to the party, ladies!

Unfortunately, even though transsexual women have a womanly gender inclination, they were not brought up as women. As a result, when they are “reborn” after the sex reassignment surgery, they can face some challenges as they learn to embrace their femininity. The first step towards embracing femaleness should be having a firm grasp on what it means to be female. This involves reading and researching about femininity and, if needed, hiring a femininity coach.


How can that even make sense? The first rule is that “Trans women are women.” The second rule is that they were too so brought up as women, no matter how hard their parents and teachers denied it. They never had male privilege, they never received male socialization, and they were always female. Having to take lessons in being female makes no sense in that context.

Being female is as much mental as it is physical. The way you think, therefore, is the cornerstone of being feminine. If you think you are sexy, then you should walk and talk as though you are the goddess of femininity. Understanding that femaleness is both a state of mind and a physical state is a key factor in unlocking your feminine nature.

And that’s what “being female” is, from soup to nuts: it’s thinking you’re sexy. That’s all there is to it. Women are The Things That Are Sexy.

Some of the main areas that transgender woman should concentrate on improving are how they move and talk. First, it is important to analyze your current movements and identify any areas that are overtly manly and abrupt. A woman is supposed to be gentle in her movements; she should be polished, graceful, and decorous. All of these traits should be readily apparent to everyone the moment you walk into a room. How you sit down and carry yourself should be in line with your feminine side. When seated, for example, your legs should never be apart; they should be neatly closed together and tucked under you.

In other words you should look and act and sit like Doris Day circa 1955.

Your voice should be girly, and then, of course, you must


Just like the old song says, “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” To be more feminine, you need to know how to smile like a woman. A smile not only brightens up your face, but it also makes you look friendlier and more welcoming, traits both associated with femininity and womanly charm.

Trans Women

So, when the man interrupts you every time you speak, smile. When the man catcalls you on the street, smile. When the man gropes you on the bus, smile.

And carry a purse.

The President told the astronauts they need to speed up

Apr 24th, 2017 9:35 am | By

Bahahahaha Trump is telling astronauts to hurry up and get to Mars in the next three years.

At a push, he wants people on the planet by the end of his second term, which would come in 2025 if he were to be elected again. The President told the astronauts that they need to speed up to meet his target.

Does Trump think the astronauts do the engineering? Does he think astronauts are the only people there are at NASA?

Nasa’s plan of a mission to Mars by the 2030s was already highly ambitious. It has been funded through a bill that Mr Trump just recently signed into law – which the astronauts had to remind him of during the video.

It wasn’t clear whether or not Mr Trump was joking about the new, highly ambitious target. Putting people on Mars will require technical and specialist equipment far beyond any space mission so far, which astronauts pointed out during the call was only now being invented and built.

It was a huge feat to get the Rover to Mars. But when you add humans you’re on a whole different level of difficulty and expense. I think the ambition to put humans on Mars is bonkers, frankly. Send more Rovers, instead.

The President has actively supported exploration of other planets like Mars, even taking funding away from Nasa’s earth science work to focus instead on missions into our own solar system. And he is being supported by Elon Musk, who also wants humans to move to Mars and is invested in doing so through his SpaceX private spaceflight company.

Sigh. All about the flash and the cowboyism, at the expense of exploration and new knowledge.

Chemistry, ratings, cable news

Apr 24th, 2017 9:12 am | By

Donnie from Queens filled us in on the French election today.

You get the feeling he’s not sure where France is? And knows nothing whatever about it?

The AP interviewed him on Friday. The transcript is scary.

I think I’ve established amazing relationships that will be used the four or eight years, whatever period of time I’m here. I think for that I would be getting very high marks because I’ve established great relationships with countries, as President el-Sissi has shown and others have shown. Well, if you look at the president of China, people said they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now. I really liked him a lot. I think he liked me. We have a great chemistry together.

No, he didn’t “like” you, Donnie. That’s not what this is about. It’s not about chemistry. It’s not about gazing into his eyes. It’s not about any of that. You need to grow up now.

I’ve developed great relationships with all of these leaders. Nobody’s written that. In fact, they said, “Oh, well, he’s not treating them nicely,” because on NATO, I want them to pay up. But I still get along with them great, and they will pay up. In fact, with the Italian prime minister yesterday, you saw, we were joking, “Come on, you have to pay up, you have to pay up.” He’ll pay.

It’s not about personal relationships. Good ones can make discussions easier, yes, but normal sane adult heads of state don’t make decisions for their countries based on their personal relationships with heads of state.

AP: Did he say that? In your meeting? Your private meeting?

TRUMP: He’s going to end up paying. But you know, nobody ever asked the question. Nobody asked. Nobody ever asked him to pay up. So it’s a different kind of a presidency.

And not in a good way.

TRUMP: But things change. There has to be flexibility. Let me give you an example. President Xi, we have a, like, a really great relationship. For me to call him a currency manipulator and then say, “By the way, I’d like you to solve the North Korean problem,” doesn’t work. So you have to have a certain flexibility, Number One. Number Two, from the time I took office till now, you know, it’s a very exact thing. It’s not like generalities. Do you want a Coke or anything?

AP: I’m OK, thank you. No. …

TRUMP: But President Xi, from the time I took office, he has not, they have not been currency manipulators. Because there’s a certain respect because he knew I would do something or whatever. But more importantly than him not being a currency manipulator the bigger picture, bigger than even currency manipulation, if he’s helping us with North Korea, with nuclear and all of the things that go along with it, who would call, what am I going to do, say, “By the way, would you help us with North Korea? And also, you’re a currency manipulator.” It doesn’t work that way.

Ah. It’s nice to have him explaining these things to us clueless mortals. Very sadly, very very sadly, the media don’t all see it that way. They’re stupid.

And the media, some of them get it, in all fairness. But you know some of them either don’t get it, in which case they’re very stupid people, or they just don’t want to say it. You know because of a couple of them said, “He didn’t call them a currency manipulator.” Well, for two reasons. Number One, he’s not, since my time. You know, very specific formula. You would think it’s like generalities, it’s not. They have — they’ve actually — their currency’s gone up. So it’s a very, very specific formula. And I said, “How badly have they been,” [recording inaudible] … they said, “Since you got to office they have not manipulated their currency.” That’s Number One, but much more important, they are working with us on North Korea. Now maybe that’ll work out or maybe it won’t. Can you imagine?

He sure showed them.

He’s surprised it turns out that being president is a big job. I guess he thought it was mostly just waving hello.

AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you’re not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?

TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —

AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —

TRUMP: Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) … This is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ….The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.

AP: Right.

TRUMP. It’s massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that’s involved in some of the decisions.

Apparently he hadn’t realized that before.

It’s mind-numbing. He hadn’t realized that before. He’s so stupid and out of it that he’s telling a reporter that he hadn’t realized before that for instance dropping bombs means “people could have been killed.” I guess he thought they just got a headache or something. He’s telling a reporter he’s surprised that the US is bigger than a company.

He’s always worse than you think possible. Every, every time.

I’ll tell you the other thing is (unintelligible). I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.

There’s a reason for that, Donald Trump. It’s because you’re terrible. It’s because you’re the worst president any of us have ever seen. That’s the reason. You’re bad at this thing you feel entitled to do, and we don’t like that, and the press are part of the “we” who don’t like it.

They talk about his address to Congress.

TRUMP: A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.

AP: You seem like you enjoyed it.

TRUMP: I did. I did. I believed in it and I enjoyed it. It was a great feeling to introduce the wife of a great young soldier who died getting us very valuable information.

Oh, jesus. He said that. He said it was a great feeling to introduce the wife of a great young soldier who died. He said it was a great feeling.

Then he talks about his chemistry with Xi some more. Then he talks about the election yet again.

AP: … is do you think you have the right team in place for your next 100 days?

TRUMP: Yes. I think my team has been, well, I have different teams. I think my military team has been treated with great respect. As they should be. I think my other team hasn’t been treated with the respect that they should get. We have some very talented people, and very diverse people.

AP: Do you mean your White House team when you say that?

TRUMP: Yeah, my White House team. I think Reince (Priebus) has been doing an excellent job. I think that, you know, this is a very tough environment not caused necessarily by me. Although the election has, you know, look, the Democrats had a tremendous opportunity because the electoral college, as I said, is so skewed to them. You start off by losing in New York and California, no matter who it is. If, if Abe Lincoln came back to life, he would lose New York and he would lose California…

And he’s off on yet another rant about getting to 270 blah blah blah. Clinton spent more, Democrats don’t like him, Elijah Cummings is critical of him, blah blah blah. And then he gets back to the important stuff.

AP: And that’s one of the difficulties I think presidents have had is that you can have these personal relationships with people from the other party, but then it’s hard to actually change how people vote or change how people —

TRUMP: No I have, it’s interesting, I have, seem to get very high ratings. I definitely. You know Chris Wallace had 9.2 million people, it’s the highest in the history of the show. I have all the ratings for all those morning shows. When I go, they go double, triple. Chris Wallace, look back during the Army-Navy football game, I did his show that morning.

AP: I remember, right.

TRUMP: It had 9.2 million people. It’s the highest they’ve ever had. On any, on air, (CBS “Face the Nation” host John) Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It’s the highest for “Face the Nation” or as I call it, “Deface the Nation.” It’s the highest for “Deface the Nation” since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage.

I have learned one thing, because I get treated very unfairly, that’s what I call it, the fake media. And the fake media is not all of the media. You know they tried to say that the fake media was all the, no. The fake media is some of you. I could tell you who it is, 100 percent. Sometimes you’re fake, but — but the fake media is some of the media. It bears no relationship to the truth. It’s not that Fox treats me well, it’s that Fox is the most accurate.

And the whole rest of the conversation, a few hundred more words, is about tv. He’s all about the tv.

It’s breathtaking. It’s as if he were literally about 8 years old, but without the curiosity children have at that age.

Pants ablaze

Apr 23rd, 2017 12:32 pm | By

Trump put out a statement on Earth Day yesterday.

“My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species,” the statement read.

What a shameless liar. He just repealed a regulation protecting streams and other waterways a couple of weeks ago.

Here are some of the actions the Trump administration has taken on environmental issues so far:

There’s more.

Let’s ask a kid to do it

Apr 23rd, 2017 11:59 am | By

It turns out that Trump didn’t know much about how to be president when he started.

Trump’s ascension to the presidency is an unlikely story. The flashy New York billionaire and former reality TV star cuts a very different image than any American president before him. He’s the first with no government, military or political experience. In an age of frustration with the political establishment on both sides of the aisle, that background had a certain appeal.

Only to people who don’t think.

No one would say that about any other job that relies on skills and knowledge. Why does anyone say it about as skill-heavy a job as being president? Why does anyone encourage this ridiculous idea? Pig-ignorance is not a good qualification for being president. I’m frustrated with the way airlines treat people; that doesn’t mean I want random bypassers assigned to fly the planes.

Trump’s unique background has also brought with it some problems. He’s faced setbacks and turnabouts, from immigration executive orders hung up in the courts and a failed health care overhaul attempt to changing his mind on his approach to Syria, Russia, China and NATO. All of it points to on-the-job training for Trump, who had a resume before taking office that could be considered, for a president, entry-level, experts say.

“This man is without experience, and it’s showing,” said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian and author of multiple books on presidents, from Roosevelt and Truman to Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan. “Particularly in his dealings with Congress, he’s been an utter failure in the sense that he’s gotten nothing passed. He’s issuing all sorts of executive orders, like immigration limits; they’re failing. The attempt to get health care reform failed. I’d give him failing marks for his 100 days.”

Also there’s the little matter of making us an international pariah within a week of taking office.

Here’s the thing: experience is not the same thing as corruption, and the first does not entail the second. The way to deal with corruption is to deal with corruption, not to put incompetent novices in the top job…especially when they’re more corrupt than anyone who has ever sat in that chair before.

Where’s your sense of humor?

Apr 23rd, 2017 11:30 am | By

Ah the joys of having an unregenerate racist as Attorney General.

Jeff Sessions on Sunday declined to apologize for his controversial remarks about Hawaii this week, which the attorney general dismissed as “an island in the Pacific” while criticising a judge’s decision to block Donald Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations.

“Nobody has a sense of humour any more,” Jeff Sessions said in an interview with ABC’s This Week, two days after he told CNN: “I wasn’t criticising the judge or the island.”

Speaking to CNN, Sessions added: “I think it’s a fabulous place and had a granddaughter born there. But I got to tell you, it’s a point worth making that a single sitting judge out of 600, 700 district judges can issue an order stopping a presidential executive order that I believe is fully constitutional, designed to protect the United States of America from terrorist attacks.”

He believes it’s fully constitutional – oh well then. The guy with the long ardent history of trying to undermine voting rights for non-white people believes Trump’s racist EO is fully constitutional; what more do we need?

Trump’s travel ban order was his second attempt to impose drastic limits on travellers and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries. In March Derrick Kahala Watson, the only Hawaiian-born federal judge now serving on a bench, issued a nationwide stay against it.

Watson found grounds for a violation of the constitutional prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion. His ruling, like those by other judges that stayed Trump’s first attempted travel ban in January, prompted furious complaint from the administration about supposed judicial overreach.

“This order is lawful,” Sessions said on Sunday, “it’s within [the president’s] authority constitutionally and [his] explicit statutory authority. We’re going to defend that order all the way up and so you do have a situation in which one judge out of 700 in America has stopped this order.”

Plus he’s a judge on an island in the Pacific, if you get my drift. I’d better spell it out for you, just in case you don’t. People from islands in the Pacific are brown. They’re not white, you see. They shouldn’t be able to tell white people not to exclude brown people from these great United States. Also, please have a sense of humor about it.

The controversy over Sessions’ description of Hawaii erupted on Tuesday. In an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin, the attorney general said: “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.”

Attorneys and legal experts reacted with alarm that the country’s top prosecutor would question the authority of the judiciary, as the third independent branch of government to the president and Congress. Trump has repeatedly questioned the motives of judges who have ruled against, raising fears that he might undermine the legitimacy of courts.

Demoralizing, isn’t it. But never mind – just look on the funny side.

Hawaiians, including the state’s two US senators, both Democrats, reacted angrily to Sessions’ remarks. Senator Mazie Hirono said the remark was “dangerous, ignorant and prejudiced” and an attack “against the very tenets of our constitution and democracy”.

Well not all the tenets of our constitution. There’s the 3/5ths clause for instance. Sessions’s comments are in the spirit of that.