Memory loss is bad for countries too

Charlie Pierce:

The 2016 presidential campaign—and the success of Donald Trump on the Republican side—has been a triumph of how easily memory can lose the struggle against forgetting and, therefore, how easily society can lose the struggle against power. There is so much that we have forgotten in this country. We’ve forgotten, over and over again, how easily we can be stampeded into action that is contrary to the national interest and to our own individual self-interest.


The first decade of the twenty-first century gave us a great deal to forget. It began with an extended mess of a presidential election that ended with the unprecedented interference of a politicized Supreme Court. It was marked early on by an unthinkable attack on the American mainland. At this point, we forgot everything we already knew. We knew from our long involvement in the Middle East where the sources of the rage were. We forgot. We knew from Vietnam the perils of involving the country in a land war in Asia. We forgot. We knew from Nuremberg and from Tokyo what were war crimes and what were not. We forgot that we had virtually invented the concept of a war crime. We forgot. In all cases, we forgot because we chose to forget. We chose to believe that forgetting gave us real power and that memory made us weak. We even forgot how well we knew that was a lie.

Go read the rest. Then rework your memory.

I rarely praise the NCAA, but…

today the organization seems to have earned it.

Headline: NCAA votes to oppose discrimination at its events

The organization’s Board of Governors, at its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions — from Final Fours to educational conferences.

Those host sites must “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event,” the NCAA said.


The NCAA in a statement announcing the new policy referenced “recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The IndyStar news site (the NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis) points out that this may require clarification soon, since it doesn’t specify what actions might disqualify a site or what the site might do to get out from under the ban. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty strong statement (here it is in full) from an organization that absolutely hates controversy, and it should be commended for making it.

Leave the VA alone!

It used to be that when politicians wanted to curry favor with veterans they’d head for American Legion halls and VFW gatherings, or more recently rallies put on by Iraq and Afghanistan Vets or a dozen other organizations. This year, though, many Republicans have seized upon the Veterans Administration’s widely publicized difficulties providing health care and made it the latest target of their privatization dreams.

Over the last year, every major GOP candidate with the exception of Donald Trump has made a pilgrimage to gatherings put on by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), a group that had barely formed during the 2012 primary cycle. Whereas candidates back in the day were under pressure from the old-line veterans’ groups to promise undying support for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its nationwide network of hospitals and clinics, the opposite has been true this season. Candidates at CVA rallies have been competing with each other to badmouth the VA and its allegedly shabby treatment of veterans. And all have pledged fealty to the CVA’s goal of moving as many vets as possible out of the VA into private care. Even Trump is calling for more “choice.”

I have been getting health care from the VA since November of 2012, and I’ve gotten an appointment and seen a doctor any time I wanted one. None of the vets I’ve met at the local clinic have complained at all about their care, even when Honolulu’s Vet Clinic was reputed to have the longest wait times before seeing a primary care doctor at 145 days in June of 2014. It dropped to 35 days by November of the same year. Why? Two more primary care docs were hired.

Privatization of the VA would destroy the best medical care system this country has. If you are a vet, know a vet, or think the Republican party’s privatizaton fetish is a horrible idea, pass the linked article along to any and every voter you know.

Too little too late, guys

Headline: Cruz and Kasich devise strategy to keep Trump from clinching three primary states

The campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich released written statements within minutes of each other Sunday night calling for Kasich to effectively stop competing in Indiana and for Cruz to clear the way for Kasich in New Mexico and Oregon. They called on allied third-party groups to do the same.

Guys, this shows you can’t even run political campaigns sensibly. Once you recognized Trump as the biggest loudmouth and threat in the field, you should have gotten moving. As it is,

Trump currently leads the Republican race with 845 delegates, according to the latest Associated Press count. Cruz has 559, and Kasich is much further back, with 148. To win the nomination outright, a candidate must clinch 1,237 delegates.

If you keep him from getting to 1,237 but he’s within 100 or so, do you really think he’s going to quietly go away? The man doesn’t do quiet.

If the party tries to prevent his nomination on spurious grounds, it’s going to destroy itself entirely. Trump’s supporters are furious with the Republican elites as it is; that’s why they’re voting for him. He represents something other than the usual “cut taxes, spend on the military, pay lip service to the social and cultural wars” candidate the party has been putting forward for years. If the party deprives him of the nomination by twisting the rules around, it’s going to lose those voters forever, and the inside of the hall in Cleveland where the convention is to be held will turn into a figurative bloodbath.

Please do that.

Climate deal signed

In New York today 175 nations signed the Paris climate accord reached last December.

That is far more than had done so on a single day for any previous global agreement — but it still is also only a step toward the accord becoming international law.

For that to happen, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have to formally “join” or approve it within their national governments, some by executive action, others through legislative action. That process alone could take into 2017, though U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry suggested late Friday that the goal could be within reach this year. The United States plans to join the agreement this year, by executive action.

One more reason why it’s so important for the Democrats to win the Presidential election this fall and to flip the Senate and as many House seats as possible. A Republican win would probably mean a reversal of the actions this Administration takes to meet its obligations, since that party refuses to acknowledge that climate change is even occurring.

Flint’s water pipes are just fine

So said 47 Senate Republicans when they voted today against providing federal aid for children affected by the lead in those pipes. They claim they want to help Flint but they cannot agree on a funding mechanism. Meanwhile, the pipes are still corroding thanks to the junk that was in the Flint River water.

Even if they find a way to pay for it, Senator Mike Lee of Utah still has a hold on the main $220M relief bill for the city. Why? He claims that Michigan should spend its rainy-day fund down to fix the problem. Apparently he can’t distinguish between a loan and a grant. The bill specifies that the money will have to be paid back to the Feds. The city and state would rather borrow at today’s extraordinarily low interest rates than spend its emergency funds.

That right there is the same attitude that has kept conservative politicians from embarking on infrastructure programs for the entire country. Money’s cheaper than it’s been in years, but deficits!

Stupid people.

Who was Harriet Tubman?

For starters, here’s a 2:47 minute mini-biography of her:

She was born in Maryland in 1820 and escaped from slavery in 1849 with two of her brothers. For reasons I can’t imagine, her brothers returned to the plantation from which they’d run. She accompanied them back there and then

made use of the network known as the Underground Railroad to travel nearly 90 miles to Philadelphia. She crossed into the free state of Pennsylvania with a feeling of relief and awe, and recalled later: “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”


Over time, she was able to guide her parents, several siblings and about 60 others to freedom.


Harriet Tubman remained active during the Civil War. Working for the Union Army as a cook and nurse, Tubman quickly became an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina.

She died in 1913 of pneumonia, on land she owned in Auburn, NY. She was buried in the town with full military honors in recognition of her wartime service.

Old photo cards reveal surprises

For example, here’s a picture of my sister and me in the kitchen, Thanksgiving 2006.


My Aunt Marie passed away in December; there was a memorial for her held this past weekend in Phoenix. I was unable to attend, but one of my cousins is a pro photographer and he took a lot of pictures. He put them in Dropbox for me but I wanted to download them to a card for printing. I started hunting cards and found a 16MB one with about 35 pictures from 2005-2006. This one came from that.