Monday, August 15, 2022

Former hermit writes for the Chronicle

Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan, pictured above in 2007, has been living in a cave in the Sierra Nevadas since 2008. He emerged recently and was hired as its "train correspondent" by the SF Chronicle. 

After a shave and a haircut, Buchanan provided San Francisco's only daily newsaper with a timely opinion piece: A red-eye train between LA and SF is a no-brainer for California travel — why don't we have the option?

Click on "High-Speed Rail" below for some answers to Buchanan's question.

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Everything the FBI seized at Mar-A-Lago


Friday, August 12, 2022

Barbara Walters and Trump

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

FBI search at Mar-a-Lago

“It’s got to be around here somewhere,” one F.B.I. agent said.


Tuesday, August 09, 2022

FBI raids criminal's home

Jonathan Chait in New York magazine:

....The reason Donald Trump is the first former president to be treated like a criminal is that he is the first former president who is a criminal.

We don’t know what evidence the FBI may have obtained when it searched for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Not even Trump’s most delusional acolytes doubt he repeatedly and flagrantly violated the Presidential Records Act by bringing boxes of White House material to Florida. It’s entirely possible this will be the only offense that is uncovered by the raid.

The Republican view of this has always been that record-keeping protocols by high-ranking members of the executive branch are matters of the utmost seriousness and that violations of it ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. 

National Review treated the FBI’s preelection announcement of an investigation into Hillary Clinton, over whether she mishandled classified information with her emails, not as a case of FBI abuse but as a devastating indictment of Clinton, and it was still publishing stories two years later insisting she ought to have been criminally charged....

See also Merrick Garland Has No Choice Now But to Go Big on the Trump ProbeI disagree with the premise in that hed. Garland should go only where the facts and the law lead him, in spite of how Republicans defamed Hillary for her minor email transgression.

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Protecting a president

Rob Rogers

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Thursday, August 04, 2022


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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Pelosi stands up to bullies running China

Chiang Ying-Ying

Bret Stephens in today's NY Times:

What should the U.S. do? Don’t back down.

1. Congressional delegations ought to arrive in Taiwan every week for the next year. Make them so routine that Beijing forgets to protest.

2. President Biden should formally state what he has said repeatedly off the cuff: that the United States will intervene militarily if China seeks to invade Taiwan. 

He can underscore the point with frequent transits of U.S. Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait, along with an expansion of the secretive joint training exercises that U.S. and Taiwanese special-operations forces have already conducted.

3. The United States can also provide Taiwan with the kind of easily dispersed, easily hidden, asymmetric weapons that have done such damage to the Russians: Javelin anti-tank missiles, Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, naval-strike antiship missiles.

4. Biden should propose sharp increases in military spending, particularly for the Navy, which now ranks behind China’s in terms of ship numbers. It would have bipartisan support both as an industrial policy and as a measure of global security.

With luck, China will accept that the ultimate costs of confrontation vastly outweigh the benefits. 

It’s a lesson Vladimir Putin may have learned — albeit only after he invaded Ukraine and at a tragic price for the world. The key to saving Taiwan is to get that point across to Beijing now, before they blunder into similar tragedy. Cheers to Pelosi for standing firm.

See also Proud of our representative from 2020.

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Monday, August 01, 2022


Katherine Graham: The only woman in the room
And all the men are white.

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Friday, July 29, 2022


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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Oh, the humanity!

Crucified Crybaby

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Towers above the fog

Ryan Fitzsimons

 In today's SF Examiner.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Matt Gaetz


Monday, July 25, 2022

Still blowing in the wind, my friend

From Slate:

....For a long time, the smell of weed was something private, thrilling. It was the signal to a stoner that, oh yes, it was on—a good smell, evoking strong and pleasant memories of past sessions with friends long gone. To people who didn’t partake, to smell it was to smell another world. 

I recently rewatched the Onion’s 2013 video “Back of Library Smells like Weed,” a faux-local news report in which an off-screen reporter interviews a trio of women who are identified as “Library Ladies,” and who are extremely excited—positively a-twitter—about what they smelled. 

....To make a positive ID, another calls her husband, the sheriff, who calls the high school’s ceramics teacher, who “lived in Seattle for a few months in the ’ 70s.” This man, in a mustache and an apron, enters the scene, stands around, then says, “Yep, that’s weed.”

The smell is something different now. That whole social drama around weed smell—whiffing it, hiding it, getting busted for it—is becoming a thing of the past....

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Newsom's July 4th Florida Ad

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Give Liz Cheney a medal

In today's NY Times:

I am a retired teacher and a progressive Democrat. Liz Cheney and I agree on virtually nothing. Even though our politics are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, never have I had more respect for a politician. 

While almost all Republicans ran from the truth about Donald Trump, Ms. Cheney stood for the rule of law and defense of our democracy and Constitution at her political peril.

If ever there was a person who deserves our country’s highest civilian honor, it is a patriot like Representative Liz Cheney. President Biden, award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Elissa Jacobs
Demarest, N.J.

Rob's comment:
Yes, she's done a good job on that committee. She should also get credit for not being ashamed of her grey hair, unlike many politicians and aging talking heads on TV whose hair has recently turned black.

See also Michelle Goldberg The myth of the good Trump official.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

High-speed rail "between Merced and Bakersfield"?

John Pritchett

Troubled bullet train project given a reprieve
Dan Walters

California’s much-troubled bullet train project has gotten a reprieve with a political deal to free up $4.2 billion in bond money, but it still faces years of uncertainty over its fate.

In 2019, just weeks after being inaugurated as California’s governor, Gavin Newsom issued what many took as a death knell for the state’s troubled bullet train project.

“But let’s be real,” Newsom told legislators in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency. Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to L.A.,” Newsom said. “I wish there were. However, we do have the capacity to complete a high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield.”

....The reaction from project supporters, particularly construction unions, was swift and sharply negative and Newsom claimed that reporters misinterpreted his intentions....

He insisted that he wasn’t abandoning a statewide system but wanted to concentrate first on completing a working portion in the San Joaquin Valley. That limited goal, however, also has vexed the governor as costs continued to rise and work slowed to a crawl.

Seizing on Newsom’s words, President Donald Trump’s administration tried to claw back a nearly $1 billion federal grant for the project that predecessor Barack Obama had awarded. When Joe Biden became president, the grant was restored.

Last year, Newsom asked the Legislature to appropriate the $4.2 billion remainder of a $9.95 billion bond issue that voters approved in 2008 to build the system, but legislative leaders balked, saying that it would be money down a rathole and would be better spent on local and regional transit projects.

The stalemate over the bond money lasted for a year, but in June, Newsom bought off legislative naysayers by providing $3.65 billion from the state’s huge budget surplus for local projects in return for freeing the bond money.

However, the compromise also included an inspector general’s position to oversee the High Speed Rail Authority, which outside critics have faulted for delays and cost overruns.

“They know that with the inspector general that they’re going to be watched,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, one of the sharpest critics, said. “They’re going to be held accountable.”

....It could be a decade or more before trains actually begin carrying passengers between the two cities, but without connecting Bakersfield to Los Angeles and Merced to San Francisco, the segment would be little more than an amusement park ride.

As it stands — and as Newsom said in that 2019 speech — there are no plans to finance multi-billion-dollar extensions to make the bullet train a real transportation alternative. 

He seems to be content to provide enough money to maintain construction for the remainder of his governorship and leave it to his successor — or successors — to decide what to do after that.

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Matt Davies

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Before "pasta" there was only spaghetti

Vintage ads

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022


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Monday, July 18, 2022

Dorothy's realization

Monday Toons 

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Sunday, July 17, 2022

Johnson, Trump: "Odious, graceless, self-serving"

....Wednesday July 6, 2022 began with Boris Johnson still, as he believed, secure at 10 Downing Street even after two of his most senior ministers had resigned the evening before, and it ended with an almost universal recognition that the game was up. 

“Almost,” since a delusional Johnson apparently went to bed believing he could bluff it out and get away with it yet again, as he has bluffed and gotten away with scandal, outrage, and betrayal all his life. 

Only on waking early on Thursday did he accept the inevitable and begin drafting his odious, graceless, and self-serving resignation speech, boasting about the “incredible mandate” he had won in the December 2019 election, bleating that it was “eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much,” and blaming his fall on the “herd” instinct of his former followers who had abandoned him.

By now you will likely have read something about the reasons for that abandonment. One member of Parliament departed when he was imprisoned for sexual assault on a minor, another when he was seen looking at pornography on his iPhone while in the chamber of the House of Commons. (Really, where do the Tories find them?) 

The Conservatives devastatingly lost the two ensuing by-elections, making clear that Johnson’s supposed electoral magic worked no more. Then another M.P., one of the government whips, drunkenly groped two other men at the highly respectable Carlton Club (where do the Tories…), and Johnson’s response displayed all his faults—the bravado and bluster, the shiftiness and mendacity....

He is something quite unusual among politicians, or indeed among everyone: a man who has never seriously believed in anything all his life apart from self-advancement and self-gratification. In 2016, Johnson betrayed David Cameron, the prime minister, by coming out in support of Leave in the referendum on British membership of the European Union and then playing a prominent and maybe decisive part in the campaign. 

And yet the right-wing, Europhobic, but intelligent columnist Dominic Lawson has said what everyone knows: “Johnson was never in favor of Brexit, until he found it necessary to further his ambition to become Conservative leader.”

What that meant in turn was that Johnson’s relationship with the Tories, and certainly with the Europhobic M.P.s, was always transactional. From the beginning they could see for themselves what he was like. They were prepared to support him as long as he was useful in their desire to “Take back control,” the Leave slogan in 2016, and “Get Brexit done,” the slogan in 2019. 

With both referendum and election won, Johnson had served his purpose and was disposable. A succession of people who worked for him had already resigned in despair. One of them was Lord Geidt, the name of whose position, “ethics advisor to Boris Johnson,” put one in mind of what Oliver St. John Gogarty called the Royal Irish Academy: a treble contradiction in terms....

Rob's comment:
"Odious, graceless, and self-serving." What American politician also fits that description? Yes, of course, The Donald. With the polls showing that President Biden is unpopular, people forget why he was elected in the first place: His opponent was Donald Trump

Even many Democrats never cared much for Joe Biden, but in 2020 he was clearly preferable to four more years of  an "odious, graceless, and self-serving" Trump.

This on Johnson also describes Donald Trump: "a man who has never seriously believed in anything all his life apart from self-advancement and self-gratification.'

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A week of looking

Death of a star

A quintet of galaxies. A nursery of infant stars. A weather report for an exoplanet. And a preview of our own sun’s demise.

After years of delays, a 930,000-mile trip into space and months of speculation over what James Webb Space Telelescope’s  first pictures might reveal, NASA on Tuesday released the first complete set of images captured by its $10-billion observatory.

They show stars in their infancy and in their final gasps, along with sweeping views of the cosmos and the majestic objects in it.

“Every dot of light we see here is an individual star, not unlike our sun. And many of these likely also have planets,” NASA astrophysicist Amber Straughn said while introducing an image of the Carina Nebula, a multihued landscape of gas and nascent stars.

“It just reminds me that our sun and our planets and, ultimately, us were formed out of the same kind of stuff that we see here,” she said. “We humans really are connected to the universe. We’re made of the same stuff in this beautiful landscape”....

Rob's comment:
"Us[sic] were formed"? We should have evolved beyond that by now, though Amber gets a pass, since this was spoken not written English. But couldn't a copy editor have intervened without misquoting her?

My takeaway from these remarkable images: the creation myth in our major religious superstitions is even less plausible than before, unless you think god is still at work creating the universe. The ongoing cosmic process is a lot more impressive without assuming any divine involvement.

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Saturday, July 16, 2022

What we're looking at

Not clear to many of us Earthlings what we're looking at. Take a guided, interactive tour courtesy of the Washington Post.

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Thursday, July 14, 2022

First image

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