Photo of the day

A friend posted on FB his homemade, jerry-rigged setup to take eclipse photos.  I got curious to see what I could accomplish simply by holding my eclipse glasses over the lens of my Canon SX 730.  Not bad.  Hopefully the clouds don’t get in the way too much tomorrow.

Quick hits (part II)

1) So, I still think my plan of leaving the Raleigh area at 11am on Monday to get into the zone of totality in SC by 1:30 or 2:00 would work (total eclipse about 2:45).  But enough people have told me “are you crazy?!” that I decided to book a hotel room in South Carolina.  A week ago you could still get totally cheap rooms 30 miles north of the zone.  By this weekend, they were jacked-up.  Ended up getting a room right on the NC/SC border leaving us an hour to drive that day.  My current plan is to try and watch in a public park in Sumter, SC.  That way, kids can play some and we should be able to have some shade.  Also, Sumter is supposed to get almost 2 minute of totality (as opposed to my minimalist plan of 1 minute of totality in Turbeville, SC).  Alas, I’m somewhat concerned by the 60-70% cloud cover in the forecast.

2) EJ Dionne calls out the Republicans sticking by Trump:

We are past the time when mournful comments about President Trump’s disgraceful behavior are sufficient. It is no longer defensible for his lieutenants or Republicans in Congress to tell themselves that they’re staying close to Trump to contain the damage he could cause our country.

If their actual goal was to prevent damage, they have failed. True, we have not had a nuclear war and Trump hasn’t shut down our democracy. But if this is the standard, if these are genuine fears, then Trump should have been gone long ago. A man this unstable, self-involved, uninformed, divisive and amoral — a polite word in his case — should be nowhere near the levers of power.

It should embarrass all who work in the White House (except for the genuine extremists) that after Trump’s unhinged news conference Tuesday, they were reduced to insisting, on background, that everything the president said was unplanned, off-script and shocking to them…Every new Trump outrage seems to invite bold declarations that this time will be the end of the line. If this week’s spectacle of moral obtuseness isn’t the breaking point, may God save our republic.

3) Campus sexual assault is a genuine problem.  Those accused of campus assault are too often denied basic rights of due process.  It shouldn’t be so hard to accept that both these things are true.

4) Bill Ayers‘ with the optimistic post-Charlottesville take:

Finally, this is the really key thing that these White Supremacists, neo-Nazis, and various KKK hangers-on don’t yet realize. They’ve already lost. The vast majority of American society – including whites – rejects them, rejects their ideas, and most especially rejects their murderous attachment to violence. To borrow Ronald Reagan’s memorable phrase, they are already consigned to the Ash Heap of History.

They just aren’t smart enough to know it yet.

Let us not forget that it was the forebears of these rampaging rage-monsters that slaughtered 168 Americans, including 19 preschool children, twenty-two years ago in Oklahoma City. The mix of rage, incoherent fear for their white identity, and rejection of government authority has killed before.

I hope that the death of Heather Heyer will serve the same purpose as the deaths of those many innocent victims in 1995: a wake-up call to the nation and the start of another effort to drive this kind of violent hatred back underground. Given the current occupant in the White House, I’m not holding my breath, but I hope at least that his fellow Republicans will see the Faustian bargain they have struck and repent.

Many people have been quoting MLK’s “arc of history” line. In this case, he is absolutely correct. The men (and yes, they are mostly men) who have bought into this violent insanity have been brought out into the light. But they have already lost. The nation unites in horror against their dystopian rage. They cannot win, not even a little bit, anything that they hope to achieve. They can’t even keep the statues they are so keen to protect standing in the public square. All they can do is shriek helplessly as the arc of history leaves them behind.

5) Charles Blow on how the modern GOP has exploited racism:

The Republican Party wanted the racists. It was strategy, the “Southern Strategy,” and it too has proved wildly successful. From there this cancer took hold.

The party itself has dispensed with public confessions of this inclination — at least until Trump — but the white supremacy still survives and even thrives in policy. The stated goals of the Republican Party are not completely dissimilar from many of the white nationalist positions.

If you advance policies like a return to more aggressive drug policies and voter suppression — things that you know without question will have a disproportionate and negative impact on people of color, what does that say about you?

It says that you want the policies without the poison, but they can’t be made separate: The policies are the poison.

6) McSweeney’s on statue removal.  Good stuff:

Thank you very much for coming in today to discuss the tumor currently growing inside your body. Luckily, we caught this fairly early on, so we have a few treatment options available to us. As you can see on this X-ray, the tumor is currently about the size of a baseball in an all-white baseball league. I could surgically remove it as soon as tomorrow afternoon. However, I will not be doing that.

I understand why you’d want to remove the tumor. By removing it, we would stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of your body and you’d be on your way to recovery. Don’t you think, though, that your body’s fight against cancer should be commemorated in some way? What better way than by leaving the tumor completely intact? Medical Justice Warriors all want to dismantle the very fabric of everyone’s medical history and remove important memorials such as tumors, goiters, and gallstones. I want to celebrate that history and leave a monument to those awful memories inside your body forever.

7) Love this– “Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airplanes?”

This investigative method is standard in aviation. When a plane crashes, experts pick through the wreckage to determine the cause and make recommendations to prevent the next accident. The process is so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. But no comparable system exists in policing — and that may help explain why you are far more likely to die at the hands of a cop than to perish in an plane crash. Police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000every year…

Police violence is tangled up with racism and systemic injustice. We desperately need to do more to address that, foremost by shoring up the criminal-justice system so that it holds police officers accountable when they kill. But it’s also true that deadly mistakes are going to happen when police officers engage in millions of potentially dangerous procedures a year. What aviation teaches us is that it should be possible to “accident proof” police work, if only we are willing to admit when mistakes are made.

8) Lee Drutman on how “Republican leaders continue to let Trump turn the GOP into the white supremacist party.”

9) As much as I would love to believe I can eat walnuts to suppress my appetite, it is nuts for the NY Times to publish a study based solely on 9 individuals and funded by the walnut industry (I’m far more concerned by the former).  Seriously?!  I love how NYT readers call them out on such matter in the comments.

10) When was America great?  When you were between 10 and 30.

11) I recently ended up explaining Sigmund Freud to my son David due to Freud’s role in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (watched Bogus Journey yesterday– good stuff, but not as good), thus enjoyed reading this review of a new Freud biography as I really don’t know that much about Freud.

12) Really don’t think it will change much of anything that Trump fired Bannon (damn is loyalty a one-way street for Trump).  Trump remains white-supremacist-in-chief.  Jordan Weissman with a nice piece on how there are plenty of other people left at the White House– including Trump– to carry out Bannon’s ideas.  And Peter Beinart:

It would be nice to believe that Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House will end, or least diminish, Donald Trump’s flirtations with bigotry. Alas, that’s almost certainly not the case.

As Trump himself likes to note, Bannon joined his campaign late, in August 2016. By that time, Trump had already called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” falsely accused American Muslims in New Jersey of celebrating the 9/11 attacks, said “Islam hates us,” and declaredthat Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not fairly judge the case against Trump University because was Mexican American. Bannon’s hiring was not a cause of the Trump campaign’s dalliance with Islamophobia, nativism, and white nationalism. It was a result. [emphasis mine]

In fact, Trump has been exploiting bigotry since before he hired Bannon, before he ran for President, before he even entered public life. In 1973, at the age of 27, Donald Trump—then President of Trump Management—was sued along with his father for discrimination against African Americans by the Justice Department. In 1989, when four African American and one Hispanic teenagers (the “Central Park Five”) were arrested for rape, Trump took out newspaper ads declaring that the accused should be executed and “forced to suffer.” When DNA evidence exonerated the young men in 2012, Trump denounced New York City’s decision to compensate them, saying “I think people are tired of politically correct.” As late as 2013, he still tweeted, “Tell me, what were they doing in the Park, playing checkers?” …

Perhaps, on issues on which Trump has no strong beliefs, Bannon’s departure could make a difference. But Steve Bannon did not teach Trump what to think about Muslims, blacks, women, and Jews. When it comes to religion, gender, and race, Trump developed his views long ago. The only way he might change them would be if he grew convinced that they are hurting him politically. And probably not even then.

13) Tom Wheeler’s take on the statues is really, really good:

The statues at the center of today’s debate were erected not to celebrate the loss, but to perpetuate the myth of the so-called Lost Cause. A few decades after the end of the war, as incremental progress towards racial equality was being eked out, some Southerners sought to recast the war of secession as not about slavery, but about protecting a way of life. The fact that life revolved around slavery was conveniently obfuscated, but well understood. Statues to the leaders of the rebellion became a means of keeping its emotions alive…

Six hundred thousand lives later, the war ended. But it did not end the emotion around the war’s root issue. The Lost Cause crusade—including its statue-building efforts—kept that emotion alive, but cloaked it in the garb of historical reverence. There was a simple message to General Lee from a member of Union general Grant’s staff (and a Native American) at the Appomattox surrender: “We are all Americans.” That message, however, was superseded by an organized effort to keep alive in bronze and marble that which had divided the nation.

You’re changing history,” Donald Trump said. No sir, no one is changing history. The South lost; oppression was repudiated. The nation as a whole has tried to move on. The Lost Cause is a myth.

“You’re changing culture,” Mr. Trump went on to say. No again. The culture that motivated the war may continue in the hearts of a few who converged at Charlottesville, but collectively, our nation is better than that. Our culture is one of opposing hate and oppression and our leaders speaking out forcefully against such darkness.

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