REMINDER: YOU ARE NOT COOL ENOUGH

Posted in Quick Hits on February 13th, 2017 by Ed

The "Everything is Terrible All the Time shirts are back in stock. Here's your big chance to finally be cool.

Canvas brand, screenprinted (no print on demand BS), no text on the reverse side, women's v-neck and men's/unisex crew neck available. Simple. Black. Bleak. Let everyone know how you feel. Let everyone know your favorite blog. Canvas sizing guides for unisex and women's v-neck shirts. Won't fall apart or fade after one wash. Black hides tears, too.

eitatt

Please use the correct order button, Domestic or International. Anything outside of the U.S., even Canada, must use the International button.


Domestic Orders (USA)





International Orders




They go quickly. Don't be left out!

EMOLUMENTS AHOY

Posted in Quick Hits on February 2nd, 2017 by Ed

I'm no expert on FEC regulations, but…it cannot possibly be legal for the President of the United States to use his Twitter account to direct people who want to read an official statement from the President to his personal Facebook page on which a large "SHOP NOW" button adorns the top of the page. The sales proceeds from the items all go directly to Donald J. Trump for President.


My Spider Sense is tingling.

STATUS QUO JUSTICE

Posted in Quick Hits on January 31st, 2017 by Ed

Tuesday's Supreme Court appointment appears to have the Court picking up where it left off before Scalia died. Gorsuch, according to judicial politics researchers I trust, is basically Scalia. Some sources claim he is more conservative than Scalia, a distinction which, if even humanly possible, should make very little practical difference. The only way to make the data show that anyone is more conservative than Scalia is to include that justice's votes from the 80s and up to the mid-90s, before he lapsed into complete self parody. It was as if he laid down a track record for a few years of writing well thought out opinions and then, figuring he'd done enough, took off his suit, relaxed in some sweat pants, and let his inner asshole take over. In his last decade he was everything his critics always claimed he was, and worse. This is the man who pontificated about Strict Constructionalism and then, when same sex marriage was on the docket, started babbling about the ancient Babylonians and "judeo-christian tradition." Yeah, that must be in Article Give Me a Break.

Essentially, the GOP took an enormous risk when Scalia died and it paid off. It was risky because at the time, the prospects of any of the Republican field winning the White House seemed very slim. And they knew the option in front of them, Merrick Garland, was likely a better pick than whoever they would get out of a president Hillary Clinton. They also gambled (wisely) that literally any form of obstructionism and hypocrisy is OK if Republicans do it, because they do it to like, protect Freedom from the totalitarianism of moderate centrist Democratic presidents.

Senate Democrats appear to have zero will to fight this in a meaningful way. I'm not sure what it's going to take to get through to those people, but right now they're failing to grasp that the only rational response to this disaster is to bring the Senate to a grinding halt and oppose everything – which, coincidentally, is exactly what Republicans in the Senate did for six years while Obama was around doing things that were usually routine and, at their top dollar best, qualified as mildly interesting.

I've never been a "Let's take to the streets!" person. I dislike being in large mobs of people. But with the Senate Democrats ready to lie down for Gorsuch – who, it should be noted, is 49 and we will be stuck with him for probably three decades – I suppose the only useful course of action is to try to scare them the same way GOP incumbents are terrified of their base.

MARSHALL LAW

Posted in Quick Hits on January 29th, 2017 by Ed

Someone posed a question to me over the weekend that may soon be relevant. In fact it seems inevitable that it will be relevant given the current president's shall-we-say rather unilateral conception of his legal authority. What happens when the Federal courts issue an order and the Executive branch simply ignores it?

It has been some time since I've taught Presidency, so I'm rusty on Andrew Jackson and Worcester v Georgia (the source of the infamous misquote, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" He actually said the more mundane but identical in spirit, "the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate.") With that caveat…

First, failing to execute a Court order would be as clear cut as grounds for impeachment could get. Since Article II requires the Executive to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed," failure to do so would be an open and shut case. Impeachment is not an automatic process, of course. So it is conceivable that the House GOP would not make an indictment even if the situation demanded one. That's where things get more complicated.

A Federal Court has the power to issue an arrest warrant through its quasi-enforcement branch, the United States Marshall Service. While issuing such a warrant for the President would be unprecedented and frankly sensational, the holder of that office is not above the law. I imagine that a president would have to push a court pretty far before it came to this, but it is not impossible. The President failing to follow a court order is not quite the same as the court issuing a warrant for someone who violated a statute, obviously, so there would no doubt be a lot of parsing of technicalities involved. Another (less likely) option is the Justice Dept., which resides in the Executive branch, bringing criminal charges of some sort against the president. There would be attempts to block this from the top, but one has to imagine that someone in the Department seeks glory and attention enough to run the risk of trying it and hoping to god that it works.

This would qualify as a clear example of the overused term "constitutional crisis." The functioning of our system depends on the very basic division of powers and responsibilities upon which the Federal government is built. Sadly, and without lapsing into undue alarmism, it appears that the current president is of a mindset to refuse to take orders from anyone other than himself.

Or the Kremlin, obvi. He takes plenty of orders from them.

COMIC RELIEF

Posted in Quick Hits on January 26th, 2017 by Ed

From Elizabeth Warren on social media:

Yes, I have serious, deep, profound concerns about Dr. Carson’s inexperience to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Yes, I adamantly disagree with many of the outrageous things that Dr. Carson said during his presidential campaign. Yes, he is not the nominee I wanted.

But “the nominee I wanted” is not the test.

Millions of American families depend on HUD programs, including tens of thousands of families in Massachusetts. For many of them, HUD assistance is the difference between a safe, stable home and life on the street. As someone who has spent a lot of time working on housing policy in this country, my focus is on helping these families – and the countless others who could benefit from a stronger agency.

During the nomination process, I sent Dr. Carson a nine-page letter with detailed questions on a whole range of issues: Section 8 housing assistance; lead exposure in public housing; programs to prevent and end homelessness; programs to help victims of domestic violence; fighting housing discrimination; HUD’s role in preparing for and recovering from natural disasters; and, more broadly, the standards he will use for managing the department, including the steps he will take to protect the rights of LGBT Americans.

Dr. Carson’s answers weren’t perfect. But at his hearing, he committed to track and report on conflicts of interest at the agency. In his written responses to me, he made good, detailed promises, on everything from protecting anti-homelessness programs to enforcing fair housing laws. Promises that – if they’re honored – would help a lot of working families.

Can we count on Dr. Carson to keep those promises? I don’t know. People are right to be skeptical; I am. But a man who makes written promises gives us a toehold on accountability. If President Trump goes to his second choice, I don’t think we will get another HUD nominee who will even make these promises – much less follow through on them.

If Dr. Carson doesn’t follow through on his commitments, I will be the very first person he hears from – loudly and clearly and frequently. I didn’t hesitate to criticize past HUD Secretaries when they fell short, and I won’t hesitate with Dr. Carson – not for one minute.

Don't worry, guys. We extracted a totally unenforceable list of promises from this guy who serves entirely at the leisure of the President once the Senate confirms him.

The rhetoric on the left generally counts Warren as one of The Good Ones, so this line of reasoning is particularly alarming. I do understand that part of this is a hat-tip to reality – these nominees are going to be confirmed anyway, and you have to pick your battles if you truly intend to try to stop an appointee from the position of the minority in the Senate. But at some point we have to wonder what exactly it would take before the Democrats in the Senate would actually do one time what the GOP has done as a matter of routine every single time a Democratic president has made an appointment. Does the nominee have to show up at the hearing wearing an actual Nazi uniform before they can amass the backbone even to cast a symbolic, meaningless No vote? Warren is correct that voting No would accomplish little here; the GOP has a majority on the committee and in the chamber. So why is that not a reason in favor of voting No? If it doesn't matter, why sign your name onto the impending disaster in any way, shape, or form?

Ben Carson is the very definition of a warm body. He will do nothing. HUD is 99.9% civil service and any "orders" would be coming from the White House anyway. I get that. What makes less sense is the outright refusal of the Democratic Party to offer any serious resistance (or even the pretense thereof) to anything. If Donald Trump isn't "bad enough" to warrant the kind of procedural obstructionism that congressional Republicans have applied to everything Obama or Clinton ever attempted to do, who is? Trump is not popular. He lost the popular vote and a majority of the country sees him as some combination of idiot and monster. Yet the Democrats still cannot bring themselves to offer anything like opposition to him – even just play-acting token opposition. We see the same "Let's show the public how Bipartisan we are and find areas where we can work with him!" logic that has reduced the party to almost total irrelevance in contemporary politics. They don't have the House. They don't have the Senate. Or the White House. Or the states (currently 17 have Democratic govs and 18 have Democratic legislatures). Part of this is beyond their control. Part of it is not beyond their control.

Standing up and saying "Fuck this guy, we're going to try to torpedo him at every turn" is the most obvious possible play in this situation. Failing to do it will be fatal. Imagine a redux of the 2002-03 era in which every future Democratic candidate, having lacked the balls to oppose Bush in even the most obvious opportunities, is saddled with the baggage of having voted to support the impending trainwreck.

Voters aren't responding very well to overtures of working together. Perhaps try actually standing for something – anything – and voters might find that more appealing.

RETURN OF SHIRT OF THE ZEITGEIST

Posted in Quick Hits on January 23rd, 2017 by Ed

So after running out and canceling a bunch of your orders last time around, I decided to restock the "Everything is Terrible All the Time" t-shirts. The only change is that there is a separate button for international orders – at $12-15 per shirt to ship to other countries, I was kinda paying international buyers to take the shirts. While I am not looking to become a titan of commerce here, I do have to avoid selling these at a loss. Sorry, Europe and Canada and Asia and basically the whole world.

Shirts will arrive in my hands in the first week of February, and I will have them in the mail to you as soon as I get them. I appreciate your patience. My warehouse and shipping operation is me. Details about the shirts are the same as before:

Canvas brand, screenprinted (no print on demand BS), no text on the reverse side, women's v-neck and men's/unisex crew neck available. Simple. Black. Bleak. Let everyone know how you feel. Let everyone know your favorite blog. Canvas sizing guides for unisex and women's v-neck shirts. Won't fall apart or fade after one wash. Black hides tears, too.

eitatt

Please use the correct order button, Domestic or International. Anything outside of the U.S., even Canada, must use the International button.


Domestic Orders (USA)





International Orders




They go quickly. Don't be left out!

LIGHTSABER SECURITY COUNCIL BLUES

Posted in Quick Hits on January 23rd, 2017 by Ed

It is crucially important over the next (however long the Trump-Pence administration lasts) to be vigilant against outrage fatigue. The GOP has long since mastered the strategy of throwing so many horrible things at the left, one after another, that it becomes nearly impossible to keep up with them all. And it works. Eventually the ability and will to fight back succumbs to a kind of numb "Everything is Terrible All the Time" feeling. Most of us are not professional activists. We can only handle so much.

So, it would be useful to avoid getting in a huff about things that have almost no conceivable chance of happening. Much will be Proposed in the near future. It's not difficult to introduce a bill in the House. Remember, thousands of bills are introduced in every Session and few even get to a floor vote let alone sent on to the President.

As an example, a bill to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. was introduced this weekend. Terrible, right? I have a better chance of being nominated to the Supreme Court than this bill has to become a law. We may live in an age in which the most implausible things seem possible, but there is a limit. A small amount of logic will lead you to the conclusion that this bill is DOA.

First, without its seat on the Security Council, how will the U.S. continue to be the special protector of Israel? Does Israel carry a lot of weight in political circles in the U.S.? Are Republicans staunchly pro-Israel in Congress? Yes, that's what I thought.

Second, several "old school" Republican Senators have already stated that they will not under any circumstances vote to remove the U.S. from NATO or the U.N. Not only do these guys loathe Trump – Graham, McCain, Rubio, etc. – but their hawkish positions on foreign policy run directly contrary to removing the U.S. from these institutions.

Finally, the Republicans have a majority in the Senate of exactly two seats. The slightest amount of defection on any bill will torpedo it. Even with full party support they will have a hard time working around threats of filibuster.

I wouldn't be surprised by much of anything at this point. Mitch McConnell could pull off a mask and reveal Andy Kaufman and we'd all shrug and say, "Yeah I suspected as much." Nonetheless at a time in which there will be more crises than any reasonable person could handle it makes sense to bear in mind that tons of bills are introduced and tons of policy changes are proposed. Unless I missed something and Congressional Republicans suddenly don't care about Israel and want to abandon it to its fate, this bill is unlikely to be worth losing sleep over.

WHAT MATTERS MOST

Posted in Quick Hits on December 30th, 2016 by Ed

Things that are A-OK on Facebook:

-Racial slurs
-Overt racism
-Doxxing
-Sexism that would make a 1950s Friars Club audience wince and think "Geez, take it easy pal"
-Fake news
-Copious profanity
-Fake profiles from scam marketers

Things that get you banned from Facebook for seven days:

-Posting a screenshot of a message some random stranger sent you reading, "You are a fucking pussy and allow your minions to speak, and attack, on your behalf. Nice. Fuck off."

Makes sense to me. See you back there in a week!

T-SHIRT "300"

Posted in Quick Hits on December 22nd, 2016 by Ed

The response to the "Everything is Terrible" t-shirts exceeded all possible expectations, and I'll have to order a few hundred (!!!) more early next year. For now, all sizes are sold out except for the last few I have in the bottom of the box: 4 men's XL, 2 men's L, 1 men's M, and two women's v-neck M. If you're interested in any of those sizes, take them off my hands here. Until I get more delivered, sate your needs with Clurb shirts and bumper stickers (I saw my first one in the wild, it's majestic.)

FISCHER-PRICE "MY FIRST DICTATORSHIP" KIT

Posted in Quick Hits on December 22nd, 2016 by Ed

As first reported in NY Mag, Trump plans to maintain his own private security detail while in the White House. That can serve no conceivable purpose other than to circumvent the Secret Service and, you know, the basic tenets of legal conduct that it adheres to. He's just smart enough to realize that the Secret Service isn't going to go around beating up protesters at his command. You know who will? Glorified mall cop private security guards.

I'm starting to wonder if part of the transition plan involved Googling "All the things Hitler did" and then seeing how many of them he could imitate before anyone could stop him. Hitler analogies are reductive and hyperbolic in most cases, anyone who doesn't know about the centrality of a party security apparatus loyal only to Hitler himself and functionally above the law to the erosion of the German state in the 1930s should read up on it presently. References like "SA" and "Sturmabteilung" probably don't mean much to most Americans today – hell, a lot of us couldn't give a coherent explanation of "Nazi" at this point – but between Trump's army of shut-ins ready to harass and bombard with death threats anyone he identifies as The Enemy and this bizarre move toward sidestepping the legal restrictions on Federal law enforcement employees, we may be in for a crash course.