Subscribe via RSS Feed

5CA Would Do Anything For the GOP, But They Won’t Do That

[ 52 ] July 22, 2016 |


It is not easy to pass a statute so egregiously discriminatory the Fifth Circuit won’t uphold it. But Texas managed to pull it off:

Texas’ law, and the similar ones being enacted by other state legislatures, are not just bad public policy — they also run afoul of federal law. While the Roberts court struck down a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Section 2 of the Act — which forbids racially discriminatory state voting practices — remains in effect. The Fifth Circuit is a conservative, Republican-controlled court, and yet a 9-6 majority found that SB 14 violated the Voting Rights Act.


The majority opinion, written by Judge Catharina Haynes, was straightforward and powerful. More than 500,000 eligible voters in Texas lack the required ID. Various forms of statistical analysis confirm that racial minorities were far more likely to be affected by these requirements, and various individual cases confirm these effects. As a result, a majority of the court upheld the District Court’s determination that “SB 14 has a discriminatory effect on minorities’ voting rights in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

The lengthy, angry dissent by arch-conservative Judge Edith Jones defended the law using reasoning that would make it virtually impossible to find any vote suppression law illegal (which of course is the point.) Jones says that because the law did not affect the 90 percent of Texas minorities that had the required ID, the fact that those without the requisite IDs were overwhelmingly people of color does not represent racial discrimination. This is a transparently illogical claim.

The four Democratic nominees on the Supreme Court are nearly certain to agree with the Fifth Circuit’s decision, meaning it will almost certainly stand. As a result, SB 14 will not be permitted to go into effect in its current form.




Grading on a curve

[ 136 ] July 22, 2016 |


Donald Trump hasn’t lowered the bar in regard to political discourse in America: he’s drilled a hole halfway to the center of the Earth and thrown that bar down it.

So last night, when he didn’t call Obama the N word, or grab the ass of his daughter who he has more than once said he would like to have sex with (he just came awfully close), or suggest rounding up American Muslims and deporting them to Madagascar, he got a kind of credit for showing some restraint.

Although pretty much everybody agreed that as delivered the speech was interminable and boring and way too shouty, plenty of not-stupid people also described it as “powerful,” at least in its paper form.

This is grading on the Trump curve. Here’s a characteristic passage:

Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.

This is pure cult of personality stuff. Besides relying on an exact inversion of the truth (violent crime in America is at historically low levels), it also indulges in unabashed magical thinking: the speech did not include any indication of how this miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s third-largest country was going to be achieved.

The whole thing was like that. The speech’s only message was: you are scared children, I am your stern but lovable daddy, and I will make it all better, don’t ask me how. Authoritarianism for Dummies, in other words.

How Stepped Pyramids Screwed Us Over, or, Respect to the Lurkers

[ 121 ] July 22, 2016 |

Aerial photo of Portland

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, the worst possible outcome for you tonight was watching Donald Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention.

Wait, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president? What?

Anyway, tonight was the Portland LGM meetup. Thanks to Anna in PDX for setting it up. Good to meet Amanda in the South Bay. My old friend Solid Citizen was of course there because what would an Oregon meetup be without him? Stepped Pyramids pledged his (I think?) attendance. But Stepped Pyramids was a total no show. Probably couldn’t escape the Trump speech. We were devastated.

What was most interesting though is that almost everyone who came to the event said “oh, I’m sorry, I’m a lurker. I never comment.” It was a whole event full of lurkers. Which was great! I know that most of our readers never comment. So this thread goes out to them. Thanks so much for reading, even if you never comment. We really appreciate it. It was awesome to meet some of you.

So this is an open thread for lurkers. Obviously the most appropriate response is for this thread to get 0 comments since lurkers don’t comment. But if anyone wants to start, now’s a good time. But no pressure!

Easy Marks

[ 80 ] July 22, 2016 |

sessions trump

I just saw an MSNBC panel talk about how Trump is moderating the Republican stance on LBGT rights. This is insane.

I assume this is the passage of the speech that they’re talking about:

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology. To protect us from terrorism, we need to focus on three things.

As delivered, he twice added a “Q” to “LBGT,” and also pronounced the acronym like he was shitting an anvil. He also congratulated the audience for cheering.

Anyway, it’s nice that he’s using up-to-date terms, but the substance of what he’s saying here is that he’s opposed to gay and lesbian people being killed en masse. CONGRATULATIONS! He also has the courage to oppose ISIS and then offers a stupid, unspecific non-plan for combating them.

What are the other Republican policies on LBGT rights? Well, it involves lots of prejudice and discriminatory legal disabilities. It proposes overturning Obergefell and denying same-sex marriage rights to people in a majority of the states, opposing new federal antidiscrimination provisions and rolling back the ones that exist, making adoption by same-sex parents more difficult, and making conversion therapy for minors legal. Trump did not suggest that he opposes any of these policies, and his vice presidential candidate strongly supports them.

And yet, our nominally more liberal news network portrays this speech as some sort of sign that the Republican Party is becoming more tolerant, while also working to normalize the white nationalist authoritarianism of the speech. It’s astounding, and one of the reasons that Trump has a non-zero chance of winning.

That Thing That Happened Tonight, In One Tweet

[ 94 ] July 21, 2016 |

American Plutocracy: If You Lose, You Still Win

[ 44 ] July 21, 2016 |


Roger Ailes is out at Fox News. To review:

  • The 76-year-old Ailes is very credibly accused of having been a serial sexual harasser over the course of many years.
  • He makes and enormous amount of money and maintains a high social status while controlling an influential news network.
  • One of his victims finally decides to sue, greasing the skids for him,
  • And, although he’s already made enough money to live in luxury the rest of his life, he walks away with tens of millions of dollars.

I wonder what made him think he could get away with it?

In related news, Margaret Talbot’s summary is very good.

The big speech

[ 175 ] July 21, 2016 |

There’s a draft of Trump’s speech making the rounds, and according to both Chris Hayes and Ross Douthat it’s something of a straight reboot of Pat Buchanan’s infamous “cultural war” speech from the 1992 convention:

Trump speech tonight is the *full* Buchanan. Very very dark, dystopic. Straight up nationalism no chaser.

Ross Douthat ‏@DouthatNYT 34m34 minutes ago
If the draft I’m seeing is right, the speech is basically Buchananism without religion.

A couple of thoughts:

I’m actually surprised by this. What I expected was for at least Trump’s script to be somewhat toned down, so that whoever is currently playing David Broder in this bad political novel we’re now living in could burble about DJT’s new mature and statesman-like approach, his timely pivot toward the center, and so forth. Whether he would stick to that script during the speech would be another matter, as Trump obviously has trouble doing so — he gets bored very easily, he wants nothing less than pure adulation from his most rabid admirers, he loves to ad-lib etc.

But apparently even the prepared script is pretty hair-raising. If that’s correct, it would be irresponsible not to speculate regarding what’s really going on. I’m just throwing this out there: Could Trump be trying to extort the GOP powers that be to get him quit the race for the right price? If he gives a speech that makes it perfectly obvious that he’s not going to even try to pursue an electoral strategy that will be anything less than a full-on disaster, could this be interpreted as a kind of opening bid?

The reason I don’t think this is impossible is that I think there’s a non-trivial chance that Trump doesn’t even really want to be POTUS when you get right down to it (It is a real job after all, which requires sitting in meetings all day and other things he has no patience for).

Of course there are lots of alternative explanations, such as that Trump is stupid and vain enough to think that what works with the most unhinged elements of the GOP base will work well in the general. Or maybe it’s all a bait and switch and the “real” speech will be all semi-moderate and stuff, after he has caused a panic with a fake leaked document. Really anything is possible with this guy, so who knows? But everybody will be watching, which at bottom is no doubt ultimately what this has always been about.

Pyotr Velikiy!

[ 8 ] July 21, 2016 |

HMS Dragon with RFS Pyotr Velikiy. By Royal Navy/MOD, OGL,


I do love to write about battleships, and/or battleship-themed warships:

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union embarked on a project to do what no navy had done for decades—build a surface warfare vessel comparable in size to the battleships of World War I and World War II. The U.S. Navy—and every other navy in the world—had given up on ships of this size due to expense and vulnerability. Why concentrate capabilities in a single ship which could quickly fall victim to missiles and torpedoes?

The Soviets not only persisted in building the ships, but have kept them in service even after the Cold War ended. Originally intended to threaten the U.S. Navy’s most precious warships—aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines—the surviving ships now play a different role, showing the flag and ensuring that the world keeps Russian naval power in mind.

As always, the comment section is a treasure.

Not A Dime’s Worth of Difference!

[ 113 ] July 21, 2016 |


The Party of Donald Trump, with all that this entails, has a platform. It is:

I could go on like this for a while. Still, Hillary Clinton did not adopt the runner-up’s platform in its entirety, so frankly the Democratic platform seems equally neoliberal to me.  Don’t compromise your principles: Stein/Farage ’16!

You give *one* Nazi salute to a national television audience and the PC crowd is all over you

[ 139 ] July 21, 2016 |


I mean come on, it’s not like she explicitly called for the extermination of the untermenschen. (I didn’t see the speech but I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt).

BTW it turns out the Nazis more or less lifted that concept from this guy, immortalized in The Great Gatsby:

“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”

“Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we ——”

“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

“You ought to live in California —” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ——” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “— And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”

There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more.

The RNC Was the First Speech of Ted Cruz’s 2020 Presidential Campaign

[ 102 ] July 21, 2016 |


One way of describing Ted Cruz’s decision to not endorse Donald Trump is to portray him as a committed Man of Principle. The obvious problem with this, as Dara Lind observes, is that Cruz — with full knowledge of what Trump was and the threats he potentially represented — played pattycake with Trump for most of the primary campaign, at a time when many other Republican candidates were treating Trump with the contempt he merited. What Cruz’s non-endorsement actually represents is his assumptions that 1)Trump is going to get his ass kicked in November and 2)this will make him a pariah within the party like the Bush brothers:

Cruz made a bet that the GOP of 2016 would be Trump’s party; he’s now betting that the party of 2017, and beyond, will no longer be Trump’s party. He’s betting that Republicans will be as reluctant to bring up Trump after this campaign as they were to praise George W. Bush during the Obama years.

Ted Cruz is positioning himself now as a man of conscience, a man who never forgot the GOP’s conservative principles, even as the politicians around him did. He’s ready for the moment when conservative voters are ready to believe that they, too, never fell for Trump. He will wear tonight’s boos as a badge of honor, a moment that shows his principles and foresight.

This might not seem so risky: Trump is more likely to lose than not in 2016, and Cruz, by virtue of finishing the runner-up, is already the 2020 frontrunner. But it is.

Think of it this way: The people who will be most eager to move on after a Trump defeat will be the party establishment, the elites who never liked Cruz anyway. Cruz’s base of power in the GOP has always been with conservative movement figures — evangelical leaders, Tea Party activists, commentators like Erick Erickson — and with conservative voters. The first category of leaders was already loyal to Cruz and disgusted by Trump; they’ll probably follow Ted Cruz a little further to the ends of the earth after Wednesday’s show of conscience, but it’s only a matter of degrees.

To be clear, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this per se — acting in their calculated political self-interest is what politicians, whether pursuing good or bad ends, do. And it’s far from clear that it will work. But you can also see why Cruz, and not Rubio, was the last alternative to Trump standing. I can understand what Cruz is doing. The logic of Rubio clearly endorsing Trump but trying to have it both ways by doing it on video, as if that will mean that it therefore doesn’t really count — is less clear.

Another oddity is that apparently last night unfolded exactly as Trump wanted it to. If his primary goal was the pleasure of seeing Lyin’ Ted booed off the stage, mission accomplished! If his primary goal is to become president of the United States, what he was doing is much less obvious.

Vampires Are Dorky

[ 38 ] July 21, 2016 |

One of the reasons I loved “Let the Right One In” is because it was a fresh take on the vampire genre. Whereas vampires are often portrayed as attractive, sexy, aristocratic and powerful, LTROI imagined a vampire as extraordinarily vulnerable–young, lonely, desperate and poor.

Similarly “What We Do in the Shadows” is fantastic because it’s another fresh take on the vampire genre. Only this time the filmmakers don’t imagine them as vulnerable, they imagine them as dorky–kind of every day blokes who have to deal with flat mates, chore wheels and cleaning up all the blood–there’s so much blood!

“What We Do in the Shadows” does for vampires what “This is Spinal Tap” did for rockers–it makes them less sex gods and exposes them more as dork gods. And it’s so very very funny because it does so.

One of my favorite scenes is a montage of newly-turned vamp, Nick, going around bragging about being a vampire. He wears a fang necklace and screams “Twilight!” at people. Because, you know, the “Twilight” franchise is known as being the pinnacle of cool.

Later, Nick eats a French fry and almost immediately begins to vomit up gallons of blood. Chips are his “favorite food.” And suddenly being a vampire isn’t so cool. “Don’t believe the hype” he says forlornly into the camera.

“What We Do in the Shadows” is gleefully–almost impudently–absurd (which, of course makes it brilliant).  At one point, Nick introduces his friend Stu to the gang. And the gang immediately take to human Stu, making Nick feel left out. There’s a scene of Stu showing the old vampires how to take selfies…and, of course, porn. No wonder they like Stu! Deacon gets annoyed at Nick because he wears a jacket similar to his. Viago is tired of Deacon never cleaning all the (literally) bloody dishes. It’s over-the-top silly. Plus, you know, it’s the guys who brought you “Eagle Vs. Shark,” Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. So, obviously see it immediately.


Page 2 of 2,33812345...102030...Last »