Tag Archive | news

Monday Update 9/24/2018: Just keep driving

This is not how a tunnel boring machine works…

A few years ago Michael and I were driving to NorWesCon. We were running late getting the car packed and was more than a bit worn out from very long days at work leading up to the mini-vacation. We had skipped the cons for two years, for various reasons. We’re finally on the road, though, and chatting about something when I realize that out of old habit I’m driving down the arterial that will take us through downtown. “Oh, wait,” I said, “I’m heading toward the viaduct.”

To explain why this is an issue, I need to explain that in 2001 we had a strong earthquake in Seattle. It happened in the middle of a workday. A lot of older buildings were damaged badly enough that they were condemned and eventually torn down. But one of the more worrying things was the damage done to the Alaska Way Viaduct, which is a big double-decking elevated highway that cuts through downtown. An elevated highway that is nearly the same design of the one that collapsed during an earthquake in Oakland, California in 1989.

Our viaduct was closed to traffic for inspection. The support pillars were confirmed to all be damaged. Reinforcement were installed and a long drawn out political battle ensued on what to do about it. The viaduct itself is state property, part of a state highway, and besides getting people from from one end of the city to another, serves as a conduit for a huge amount of freight traffic related to two airports and a huge seaport facility. But the highway runs through the city, which has legal authority to issue (or withhold) permits for the construction project within the city. The Port Authority, which is also involved, is government entity answerable to all of the voters of the county.

There were many differences of options. There were voter initiatives and demands for referendums. Eventually, the previous governor signed a state law which represented the compromise that had been reached, and at the ceremony she had promised that no matter what else happened, the Viaduct would be closed and taken down no later than 2012. That date was picked based on the guesses from engineers as to how long the damaged structure (part of which, by the way, is built on a section of town that used to be swamp and has been filled in… and the support pillars at that end of the structure have been slowly but measurably sinking since the quake).

Anyway, at some point during the two years that Michael and I skipped NorWesCon, I had decided to stop driving on the Viaduct at all. So, when I realized I was taking the old route we were nearly there, and getting to the other highway would involve some backtracking. Michael said, “It’s okay, let’s keep going.”

So we went back to chatting about whatever it was. Not long after we got on the Viaduct (and because we were going south, we were on the lower deck — you know, the place where everyone in every car would be crushed to death if there was another earthquake?), Michael suddenly went quiet. I could almost feeling the unhappy vibes coming off of him. I glanced over and he looked very upset. “What’s wrong?”

“Just keep driving,” he answered, in a very clipped voice.

So I did. After we got off the Viaduct he said, “We are never driving on that again!” And proceeded to tell me just how much bigger and more pronounced the cracks in all the support pillars were, which I hadn’t looked at because traffic was very heavy and I was paying attention to the cars around us the whole time.

The Viaduct was supposed to come down no later than six years ago. About eight years ago, the state engineers who inspect the bridge every few months and then brief the various government authorities about it, refused to answer a question from city councilmembers: “What is the criteria for deciding that it isn’t safe?” Which made it clear to a whole bunch of us following that that the engineers didn’t really think it was safe any more, but had been told by their superiors not to say.

This is what the tunnel boring machine actually looked like during the second big delay, when they had to dig a big pit down to it to replace the big broken rotary head in 2015. (photo © WSDOT)

This is what the tunnel boring machine actually looked like during the second big delay, when they had to dig a big pit down to it to replace the big broken rotary head in 2015. (photo © WSDOT)

So, imagine my reaction when I saw this headline: Highway 99 Tunnel Opening Delayed (Again), This Time Until 2019. Please note the word “again.” I think that they could have used about four agains in the headline. Now, I’ve never been much of a fan of the final tunnel project that was settled upon. Nothing on this scale had ever been attempted with a bored tunnel, so no one with any sense was really surprised at all of the things that went wrong (damaged water pipes and buildings as the earth shifted more than expected at greater distances from the tunnel than anticipated, the damaged machine, the problems when dirt and debris was accidentally dumped into the bay…).

There are also all the traffic studies that show how since the tunnel will be tolled, a lot of traffic that used to go on the Viaduct is going to divert to the surface streets, anyway. Not to mention that as people have been switching from cars to various transit options (including new light rail routes), the amount of traffic on the Viaduct has been steadily decreasing every year. If we’d bitten the bullet when we were supposed to, taken the Viaduct down, traffic would have been painful for a few months. But people figure out better options. There’s been a project on the other freeway that goes through Seattle, Interstate 5, where for a few weeks each summer the last few years many lanes are closed while refurbishing work is done. The first time? Horrible traffic snarls everywhere. All of the subsequent times, not nearly so much. Because people figured out alternate routes and so forth.

Commuters are flexible and will find a way to get where they’re going in the least time. And more people are using the trains and buses than ever before. So maybe spending billions on this tunnel wasn’t the most forward thinking idea. But like Michael and I in that car once we’d gone up that onramp, we’re stuck and have to just keep driving.


Friday Five (blame the victim edition)

(© 2018 Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

Click to embiggen (© 2018 Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

It’s the third Friday in September, the month in which superior people are born. I’ve been sick all week. I have antibiotics, now, and some parts of the illness are getting better. I haven’t gotten any writing done, as I’ve spent most of what energy I have working (from home).

It has been a very strange yet interesting week. Not just in my personal life.

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week and five videos (plus my blog post).

Stories of the Week:

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong.

Don’t Condemn People Who Don’t Evacuate for Hurricane Florence.

What #MeToo Hasn’t Changed for Christine Blasey Ford .

Four Middle Eastern and Muslim Actresses on the Roles They Don’t Get and the Ones They Won’t Take.

She reported her 2006 rape. Then nothing happened. In the #metoo era, what do we owe her?

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 9/15/2018: Disasters.

More confessions of a guy who likes the rain.


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Trump notices that water is wet, but more important, are Bert And Ernie A Gay Couple?:

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DAREDEVIL Season 3 Teaser Trailer #2 (2018) Marvel Superhero Series HD:

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Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel – Official Trailer:

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Doctor Who: Series 11 Trailer #2:

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Cher – SOS [Official HD Music Video]:

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Weekend Update 9/15/2018: Disasters

The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports flooding and debris left by Hurricane Olivia have blocked the  Hana Highway near Hana on the island of Maui. (Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP)

The Hawaii Department of Transportation reports flooding and debris left by Hurricane Olivia have blocked the Hana Highway near Hana on the island of Maui. (Hawaii Department of Transportation via AP)

Horrible weather is lashing the southeastern coast of the nation, but that’s not the only place in the U.S. where hurricanes are causing trouble. A few days ago Hawaii was dealing with a hurricane, but you sure couldn’t tell it from the national news: Olivia fades away from Hawaii, but its moisture still tormenting Hawaiian isles. And that’s not the first hurricane to hit Hawaii this within the last four weeks: Hawaii Begins Massive Cleanup from Hurricane Lane. Again, something the big media outlets barely covered.

© 2018 Ed Hall (click to embiggen)

© 2018 Ed Hall (click to embiggen)

And let’s not forget that a year ago Puerto Rico, which is also part of the United States, was devastated by a hurricane: We Must Push for Better in Puerto Rico Because President Trump Simply Doesn’t Care and Puerto Rico’s road to recovery. And Trump lied about Puerto Rico’s death toll after Hurricane Maria and Trump’s Psychotic Puerto Rico Tweets Erase Human Beings From Existence for Political Gain.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of news about hurricane Florence, and it is a big deal. People are in danger. It is important: Tropical Storm Florence crawls inland as it batters North and South Carolina and Florence: At least five dead, nearly 1 million without power as storm swamps Carolinas. But even Florence has a political angle: Trump Made It Clear to Virginia That Blue States Now Get Treated Like the Brown People of Puerto Rico:

Virginia’s entire Congressional delegation begged Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration for Virginia, which [as of Tuesday, when this story was publish was] more exposed to the destructive force of the monster hurricane Florence than North Carolina, and is likely to be hit as hard as South Carolina. But initially, Trump only offered emergency declarations for North and South Carolina. He completely ignored Virginia. For many, this omission looked very political. Virginia is now a blue state, as Trump very well knows. By excluding Virginia up until just [Tuesday] afternoon, he sent a clear message of how disasters in the age of climate change will be handled by the emergency government agencies he now controls. If you are a blue state, then he is going to treat you in the same way he treated Puerto Rico (over 4,000 dead, no electricity for a year, etc.). If you are blue, you are as good as brown.

I already mentioned Olivia (which seems to have downgraded to a tropical depression, but can still pack a wallop), but Florence isn’t the only storm looming: Hurricane Florence isn’t alone: Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Olivia, even a typhoon also out there.

Baton down the hatches, and don’t count on any timely help from the feds.

Friday Five (it’s a planet edition)

It’s the second Friday in September, the month in which superior people are born. I must point out that while it is only the second Friday, tomorrow is the third Saturday, so in some ways it is later than you think.

It has been a very busy and interesting week. Not just in my personal life. I had a very hard time keeping this week’s selection as short as it is.

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) science fiction stories of the week, the top five science stories, five stories about horrible things, five videos, and notable obituaries (plus my blog posts—five of them this week, which is the first time in a while).

Science Fiction and Fantasy stories:

How Do We Establish Speculative Fiction’s LGBTQ+ Canon?

How The Left Hand of Darkness Changed Everything.

A monster talent: Ray Harryhausen movie posters – in pictures.

In wake of San Diego Comic Con trademark case, Tampa Bay Comic Con changes name.

Where Have All the SFF Moms Gone?

Science stories:

‘Ground-breaking’ diabetes insulin drug.

Pluto a Planet? New Research from UCF Suggests Yes.

New Reasons why Pluto Should be Considered a Planet After All.

Olympic National Park mountain goats airlifted to North Cascades.

Elephant birds: Who killed the largest birds that ever lived?

Awful News:

Everything We Know About the Off-Duty Cop Who Shot and Killed Her Black Neighbor.

The NRA’s Catch-22 for Black Men Shot by Police.

Audio Reveals Potentially Illegal Coordination Between NRA and Montana Senate Hopeful Matt Rosendale.

Eric Trump’s ugly ‘three extra shekels’ attack on Bob Woodward draws accusations of anti-Semitism.

Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns? Research suggests it’s largely because they’re anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market and beset by racial fears.

In Memoriam:

Bill Daily, witty sidekick on ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ dies at 91.

Donnelly Rhodes Dies: ‘Battlestar Galactica’ & ‘The Flash’ Actor Was 80.

Carole Shelley, a Tony Winner, the original Madame Morrible in Wicked, and voice of many Disney ladies, Dies at 79.

Fenella Fielding best known for her femme fatale roles in many comedy and horror films, Dies at 90.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 9/8/2018: Clap louder….

Why I hate hay fever reason #6502.

Hurricane Maria Killed More People Than Katrina and 9/11 Combined.

No true Martian… or, the myth of the true fan.

It’s not just a word—when I say “Nazi” I mean it.


This terrifying video from The Weather Channel shows the power and danger of Hurricane Florence:

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Rostam – “In a River” (Official Animation Video):

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Dua Lipa – IDGAF (Live):

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MAGIC! – Expectations (Official Video):

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MAX – Still New York ft. New York City Gay Men’s Chorus (Live on the Elvis Duran Show):

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Hurricane Maria Killed More People Than Katrina and 9/11 Combined

I have a few sci fi related posts and some writing posts half written, and so much gets said about the 9/11 attacks on every anniversary that I wasn’t sure I wanted to add to the pile on. But so much of what is said is used to justify discrimination, oppression, and bigotry, so I shouldn’t be silent when I could counter some of that. We, as a nation, learned the wrong lessons from 9/11. The terrorists won—because we have given up many freedoms for an illusion of security. The massive waste of time and money that is the modern airport screening process doesn’t guarantee that there will be no more attacks; at best those measures reduce the probability of certain types of attacks by an infinitesimal fraction of a percent. We used the attacks as a pretext to invade a country that had nothing to do with them (Iraq), in the process kicking off a sequence of events which made it super easy for radical terrorist groups to recruit thousands of people who would otherwise have been peacefully living their lives. We have been bogged down in Afghanistan, a country the previously bogged down the British for decades in unwinnable war, and then the Russians for more decades in an equally unwinnable war, and now, 17-fucking-years later we are similarly bogged down with no achievable objectives and an eternally-changed timeline for getting out.

We’ve spent trillions of dollars (let alone the thousands of military personnel killed or maimed in the process) an accomplished nothing more than radicalizing who knows how many people who would otherwise might have been allies.

Meanwhile, we have ignored and inadequately responded to other disasters closer to home: Hurricane Maria Killed More People Than Katrina and 9/11 Combined: Harvard Study “4,645 people probably died after Hurricane Maria struck the island last September.” We continue to act as if 9/11 was the worst disaster ever to hit this country, while we ignore the pain and suffering of the American citizens in Puerto Rico. We should be ashamed.

If we are going to talk about 9/11, we should talk about some of the heroes: Remembering 9/11 Hero Mark Bingham Mark Bingham, a 6’4″ tall gay man who had the nickname “Bear Trap” was one of the passengers of United Flight 93 who stormed the cockpit of their pilot, preventing the hijackers from crashing the plane into the intended fourth target that day. Mark and the other passengers died as the plane crashed into a field, instead.

Read about the other, often erased, queer heroes here: The Stories of 9/11’s LGBTQ Heroes.

Weekend Update 9/8/2018: Clap louder…

© 2012 Russ Heath

I forgot that I had meant to post this image with yesterday’s Friday Five to go along with Russ Heath’s obituary. Here’s an even better tribute (with many examples of his comics art) than the one I linked to yesterday: Russ Heath (29 September 1926 – 23 August 2018, USA).

In other news…

There was a video clip circulating around the web of a young man in a plaid shirt being removed from the crowd at Trump’s rally, with various comments along the lines of, “if you don’t clap loud enough, Dear Leader has you taken care of.” Well, it appears that the true isn’t that far off: Meet The Trump Rally’s “Plaid Shirt Guy”. Turns he was a Billings High School student that had applied for tickets to the rally. He insists he wasn’t trying to make fun of the rally. But as the story notes, reporters saw staffers looking at pictures of the teens (who weren’t clapping very often) visible behind the Cadet Bonespur. They were pulled out of the crowd by staffers, taken to a back room where police checked their ID, and eventually escorted them out of the building.

I want to repeat that: police escorted three high school students out of the building because they weren’t clapping as enthusiastically as others in the crowd.

In their interviews, the kids insist they didn’t feel mistreated. I’m sorry, but being escorted out of a public event by police because you have a puzzled expression on your face in the video feed behind the president is mistreatment.

Also, I note that one of the teens says in the interview that as everyone was seated, they were all instructed that they needed to clap often and enthusiastically, and make sure that they smile a lot.

Wow. Just, wow.

Friday Five (stuff hits the fan edition)

Pastor tells parents to shun their gay children to ‘show the love of Christ’

It’s Friday! We have arrived at the first Friday in September, the month in which superior people are born. Where, or where has the year gone?

I meant to do another simple Friday Five this week, just five stories and no more. But then things happened. A lot of things, and the Constitutional crises are just piling up. There was also a lot of interesting science news and other cool stories, so there are several sets of five links below.

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, the top five science stories, five stories about things falling apart, five stories about people behaving badly, five videos, and notable obituaries (plus my blog posts).

Stories of the Week:

India just struck down a law banning gay sex.

Senator Tammy Baldwin Talks Equal Rights Under Trump & LGBTQ Representation.

Jury Fines Man $1 For Punching Charlottesville Rally Organizer.

Senate OKs bill expanding federal hate-crimes penalties that Mercer Island banker helped draft.

Volunteers fix mural vandalized on side of oldest Indiana gay bar.

Science stories:

The Truth Behind This Amazing Video from the Surface of a Comet.

These 8 Bird Species Have Disappeared This Decade.

Migration 101: It Doesn’t Come Naturally For Moose And Sheep.

Eating an asteroid a year helps a baby planet grow.

Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent.

Destruction of the Constitution:

This Is a Constitutional Crisis: A cowardly coup from within the administration threatens to enflame the president’s paranoia and further endanger American security.

It Wasn’t Me: Pence, Pompeo, Mattis and Mnuchin Deny Writing Anonymous Op-Ed.

Dear Anonymous Trump Official, There Is No Redemption in Your Cowardly Op-Ed.

Partisan brawl erupts after Booker releases Kavanaugh docs.

Conservative Writer Argues Trump Be Removed by 25th Amendment.

Other News of People Behaving Badly or the Aftermath:

Who the Hell Cares About Steve Bannon Anymore?

I Worked With Avital Ronell. I Believe Her Accuser.

Thousands of spiders, scorpions and more stolen from Philadelphia museum in ‘insect heist’.

Dorothy’s stolen ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ found by FBI after 13 years.

In Defense of Our College’s Mascot, Sir Racist Von Genocide.

In Memoriam:

Marie Severin, versatile Hall of Fame comic-book illustrator, dies at 89.

Russ Heath, Whose Comics Caught Lichtenstein’s Eye, Dies at 91.

Burt Reynolds, Movie Star Who Played It for Grins, Dies at 82.

Burt Reynolds’ Best Roles in a Genre He’s Not Known For: Science Fiction.

Burt Reynolds tribute: The closest the modern era came to producing its own Clark Gable.

Things I wrote:

Three-day Weekend Update: Words and Images.

Of the dead, speak nothing but truth… or, I refuse to whitewash this sepulcher.

Listen, buddy, there is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice, and if you don’t like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and such in your food or beverage, then don’t order it….

Confessions of an absent-minded misplacer, part 2.


SNEAKIN’ AROUND (Dolly Parton & Burt Reynolds) ~ The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas 1982:

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Smokey And The Bandit Theme ( East Bound And Down ) by Jerry Reed:

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Boogie Nights clip (1997):

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Cannonball Run Outtakes:

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Calvin Harris, Sam Smith – Promises (Official Video):

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Three-day Weekend Update: Words and Images

I frequently save memes, cartoons, and the like to use as an illustration for a blog post or Friday Five. I always gather a lot more than I can actually use, so every now and then I share some the I didn’t use.

“Two people you should never trust: A religious leader who tells you how to vote, and a politician who tells you how to pray.”

Very important advice to remember. (Click to embiggen)

“1. 92 year old former President working for free to make the world a better place. 2. A cult leader charging the US $3million a weekend so he can golf.”

Jimmy Carter remains one of my heroes. Even though he lost the re-election, I’m still proud that the first time I voted in a Presidential election it was for Carter. If only he had won that time, the world would be a better place… And in case I’m not being clear, Ronald Reagan pushed the Republican party harder to racism, misogyny, and sectarianism than it had been, setting the stage for Trumpism. (Click to embiggen)

A rich man standing on a literal mountain of money points aa finger accusingliy at a woman on the ground holding a sign the says “Raise the minimum wage.” Rich man is yelling “Your greed is hurting the economy.”

It is truly frightening how not just the rich, but most everyone else, has forgotten that the secret to financial success for a corporation and the nation it inhabits is to insure that the workers can afford to buy all those goods and services the corporations are selling. (Click to embiggen)

Breaking News: Aliens announce this morning that they will NOT pay from Trump's Space Force.

Sometimes the stupidity of Cadet Bonespur is mind boggling… (Click to embiggen)

Cartoon of Trump holding a hammer and standing near Jesus, nailed to a cross. Trump says, “I don't like loser.”

I wish I could be surprised at how thoroughly the religious right has embraced an evil, hateful, lying, cheater traitor. But I grew up in that community, and racism is a fundamental part of that culture. (Click to embiggen)

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Speaking of misusing religion… (click to embiggen)

Man holding sign which reads “Southern Hospitality means welcoming immigrants.”

…and so do the teaching so Christ and the underlying principle of the U.S.A. (Click to embiggen)

And to try to end on a more happy note… (Click to embiggen)

Friday Five (back to basics edition)

It’s Friday! The fifth Friday in August. Wow!

I was very tempted, since this is a fifth Friday, to do five sets of five types of stories. Except that the last several weeks I’ve been doing between two and four sets of five links, which is really stretching the concept. It’s also anti-thetical to the reason I switched from calling my weekly round up “Friday Links” and starting calling it “Friday Five.” Yes, I have bookmarked a bunch of news stories this week, but making myself narrow it down to only five stories and five videos means I spend a lot less time prepping this post than I used to.

Which brings us to the Friday Five: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, the top five videos, notable obituaries (plus my blog posts).

Stories of the Week:

Medieval gaming board clue to lost monastery.

The Alternative Nobel Prize in Literature Shortlist Is Here.

The desert snail at once awoke and found himself famous.

DNA Tests Quietly Reinforce Terrible and Scientifically Inaccurate Concepts of “Ethnicity”.

Queens has more languages than anywhere in the world — here’s where they’re found.

In Memoriam:

Miriam Nelson, 98, Golden Age Dancer and Choreographer, Dies.

Fredd Wayne, Who Played Benjamin Franklin on ‘Bewitched,’ Dies at 93.

In Memoriam Dieter Thomas Heck.

Neil Simon, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, dies at 91.

Things I wrote:

A great man died this weekend… farewell, Neil Simon.


Red-Caped Catholic Loons Protest Library Hosting “Satanic” Drag Queen Story Hour [VIDEO]:

I’m not going to embed the video from this hateful liars, but I’ll link to the news story that contains it…

(Click here.)

1985 // Official Theatrical Trailer:

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Man Meadow – Play It Loud 2018:

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IF YOU EVER GOT IMPEACHED – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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Panic! At The Disco: High Hopes [OFFICIAL VIDEO]:

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ETA: The original post included an image (with credit to the cartoonist), that had been shared elsewhere with credit. I didn’t research closely enough to realize that the people who have been sharing the cartoon had altered the text. So I changed the image accompanying this post.

Weekend Update 8/25/2018: Justice plods on, don’t give up!

A future I hope to live to see…

I haven’t posted a weekend update in a while. This has been a really bad week for Cadet Bonespur. I could have done Friday Five Times Five of links just to articles about that, but the most interesting story to break this week was reported Thursday night, though I only saw it this morning: Manhattan District Attorney Considering Criminal Charges Against Trump Organization. One reason this is so intriguing is that because it would be state criminal charges, Trump can’t undo anything that happens with a Presidential Pardon. Those are limited to federal crimes. Couple that with the CFO of the Trump Organization getting some kind of immunity deal from prosecutors, and we start seeing things get really interesting: ‘Could Lead to the End of the Trump Organization’: Former Prosecutor Discusses Parallels to Watergate.

The sad reality is that no matter how many criminal convictions and guilty pleas are racked up around Trump, his supporters will never abandon him. Congressional Republicans have made it clear they won’t fulfill their Constitutional duties (the President was impeachable on violation the Emoluments Claus of the Constitution practically on day one) unless they perceive that sticking by him is going to harm them. So there isn’t going to be a crack in that solidarity until after the midterms, at the earliest.

But still, the wheels of justice grind on. And guilty verdicts will keep piling up.

“Republicans could end this any time. Choosing not to makes them traitors.”

“Republicans could end this any time. Choosing not to makes them traitors.”

Meanwhile, I continue to try to find ways to keep my levels of outrage down to manageable levels. Getting caught up on shows via the DVR and Netflix, helps. Getting back to by big pile of to-read books also helps.

What are your strategies to reduce stress?

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