Monthly Archives: June 2016

This is offensive and irresponsible. I hope tornados strike their houses.

RT @POTUS: The list goes on. When Members return, I hope they’ll share my commitment to work together to do what must be done. https://t.co…
rt-potus-the-list-goes-on-when-members-return-i-hope-theyll-share-my-commitment-to-work-together-to-do-what-must-be-done-httpst-co 

Tough Days For Trump Continue

I pointed out here that Trump’s campaign is sending solicitation emails to members of Parliament.

But it is worse than that:

Members of parliament in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have all received the emails, according to news reports and tweets from the politicians.

For example…

The Trump campaign has also asked members of parliament in Iceland for campaign contributions, according to Icelandic media. At least three Icelandic members of parliament have received a Trump fundraising email, according to the Iceland Monitor. A couple members of parliament told the Morgublaðið newspaper that they had received emails, according to a report in Iceland Magazine.

Guess what? That’s illegal.

So there’s that.

And then there is the possibility that Trump is lying about his contributions to his campaign.  Back on June 23rd, on the heels of the Trump campaign’s catastrophic and humiliating May FEC report, he grandly announced that he was forgiving the debt and that he would file the relevant paperwork with the FEC that day.

When Donald Trump said last Thursday he was forgiving over $45 million in personal loans he made to his campaign, the announcement drew plenty of coverage. Many even reported Trump’s statement as if the deal was done.

But it’s not.

A week later, NBC News has learned the FEC has posted no record of Trump converting his loans to donations. The Trump Campaign has also declined requests to share the legal paperwork required to execute the transaction, though they suggest it has been submitted.

Last week, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said Trump was submitting formal paperwork forgiving the loan on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Reached by NBC this week, she said the paperwork “will be filed with the next regularly scheduled FEC report,” and declined to provide any documentation.

The delay could matter, because until Trump formally forgives the loans, he maintains the legal option to use new donations to reimburse himself. (He can do so until August, under federal law.)

So there’s that.

And that Trumpian behavior — saying he will do a noble thing with this money and then not doing it — is coming back to haunt Trump in other ways:

Trump has a long-standing habit of promising to give to charity. But Trump’s follow-through on those promises was middling — even at the beginning, in his early days as a national celebrity.

In the 1980s, Trump pledged to give away royalties from his first book to fight AIDS and multiple sclerosis. But he gave less to those causes than he did to his older daughter’s ballet school.

In recent years, Trump’s ­follow-through on his promises has been seemingly nonexistent.

The Post contacted 188 charities searching for evidence of personal gifts from Trump in the period between 2008 and this May. The Post sought out charities that had some link to Trump, either because he had given them his foundation’s money, appeared at their charity galas or praised them publicly.

The search turned up just one donation in that period — a 2009 gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of New York City.

And then there is his campaign which still isn’t staffed:

Nearly everyone can agree that Donald Trump’s path to the White House goes through Pennsylvania.

But local party leaders in some of the state’s most pivotal counties say there’s been almost no outreach from his campaign so far, and there’s scant evidence of any Trump-driven ground organization. What infrastructure is in place lags behind the Democratic coordinated campaign on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

And then there’s this – eavesdropping on private persons’ phone calls:

At Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he runs as a club for paying guests and celebrities, Donald Trump had a telephone console installed in his bedroom that acted like a switchboard, connecting to every phone extension on the estate, according to six former workers. Several of them said he used that console to eavesdrop on calls involving staff.

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to written questions with one sentence: “This is totally and completely untrue.”

The managing director of Mar-a-Lago, Bernd Lembcke, did not respond to emails. Reached by phone, he said he referred the email query to Trump’s headquarters and said, “I have no knowledge of what you wrote.”

At the 126-room Mar-a-Lago mansion, Trump keeps an apartment set aside for himself and his family, and rents the rest out to guests and members.

BuzzFeed News spoke with six former employees familiar with the phone system at the estate.

Four of them — speaking on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements — said that Trump listened in on phone calls at the club during the mid-2000s. They did not know if he eavesdropped more recently.

They said he listened in on calls between club employees or, in some cases, between staff and guests. None of them knew of Trump eavesdropping on guests or members talking on private calls with people who were not employees of Mar-a-Lago. They also said that Trump could eavesdrop only on calls made on the club’s landlines and not on calls made from guests’ cell phones.

Each of these four sources said they personally saw the telephone console, which some referred to as a switchboard, in Trump’s bedroom.

None of the four supports Trump’s bid for president. All said they enjoyed their time working at Mar-a-Lago.

And then the polls… oh my God the polls.

First you have predictor extraordinaire saying that as it stands today, Trump has a 20% chance of winning.

538today

The latest polls are overwhelming for Clinton….

latestpolls today

… except for one outlying Rasmussen poll.  Apparently, they are continuing their streak of being wrong and GOP-biased.

And there’s all kinds of other knocks out there.  Like the fact that Trump ties are made in China.

Or the constant exposure of his lies by Politifact.

pantsonfire

And on and on and on — another bullshit “university” before Trump University that was just as fraudulent.    Large GOP donors openly NON-endorsing Trump.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce openly saying that Trump’s policies will start a trade war and cause loss of millions of jobs, inflation, etc.  The revelation that Hillary Clinton spent $20 million in advertising this past month compared to Trump’s….. zero dollars.  How nobody wants to speak at his convention.

These are DAILY hits on Trump.

But there’s more.  Believe it or not, I actually listened to Trump’s speech in Bangor, Maine yesterday and I found it perplexing.

First of all, why Maine?  He’s not going to take Maine.

Secondly, 70% of the speech was whining.  Seriously.  Whining about one particular brief second of a Clinton ad which supposedly showed him golfing in Turnberry Scotland (never mind that Clinton nor that ad said anything about Trump golfing in Turnberry Scotland).  Whining about how the GOP candidates he beat were not adhering to the GOP “pledge” to support the GOP nominee (never mind that Trump did the same thing 3 months ago).  Whining about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying how terrible he was (Rule No One from The West Wing — don’t keep on repeating what your critics say; it only cements the criticism).

When he finally got to some substance, he read from his prepared bullet points about trade.  That was about 50 minutes and 30 seconds into a 85 minute speech

As you can see, the crowd gets pretty subdued as he says things like:

I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.

Can I hear it for Article 2205???? Whoop-whoop!!

Then he did the wall shtick and then out the door.

It was the same red meat we’ve seen a thousand times but now with 15 minutes of dry policy read from a script.  This cannot actually be his plan for winning.

20 percent chance, Nate?  Hey, I get how everyone needs to hedge their bets because this is an odd election.  But I can’t believe it is that high.  Not with all the dings Trump and his campaign take on a daily basis.

UPDATE:  Trump is speaking in Manchester NH right now.  The crowds?

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RT @KagroX: And that brings us to 500 people who’ve accidentally shot themselves in 2016. #GunFAIL

RT @pzf: JUST IN: The judge who sentenced Brock Turner to six months probation just sentenced a Latino man to 3 years for the same crime.

RT @Brand_Allen: New NC Civitas poll puts HRC +2 against DJT (was +4 DJT last month). It’s the 3rd NC poll in a row to have HRC ahead (YouG…

RT @HillaryClinton: They were made in places like:

Mexico
China
Vietnam
Honduras
Hong Kong
Taiwan
South Korea
Singapore
Bangladesh
Oman ht…

RT @akarl_smith: Hillary is campaigning in Charlotte, NC with Obama Tuesday. First rally together https://t.co/pqmId2Fmqz
rt-akarl_smith-hillary-is-campaigning-in-charlotte-nc-with-obama-tuesday-first-rally-together-httpst-copqmid2fmqz 

RT @sahilkapur: Obama will campaign with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday 7/5 in Charlotte, NC.

Chris Stevens’s Family: Don’t Blame Hillary Clinton for Benghazi https://t.co/MLw6U63m84 via @newyorker

That’s the pro-business U.S Chamber of Commerce, folks, the biggest and most conservative business lobby you’ll find

Trump Spams Parliament

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Numerous members of the British parliament have complained that they have received multiple emails from the Trump campaign asking for a donation.

Guess the pivoting to be a real serious candidate still has some bugs.

Benghaziiiiiiiiiiii! Report!!

The New York Times headline says it all:

benghazclint

But you wouldn’t know that reading the right wing blogs.

Sure the report condemns many things, but not Hillary Clinton.  Of course, wingnuts will try to blur the lines.

Here’s what the New York Times says:

Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.

The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which it occurred, and it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts in there that they could not protect.

And that seems to be an accurate assessment.  Watch how the right wing plays it though.

For example, the report says “Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]”  [http://benghazi.house.gov/NewInfo]

How is that spun on right wing sites like Hot Air?  “Americans died because the Obama/Clinton team failed to deploy military assets” 

Suddenly, Hillary Clinton was in charge of deploying military assets as Secretary of State.  Did you know that?  And let’s ignore the fact that Obama actually ordered military assets to be deployed.

But let’s pin it on Obama and Clinton anyway.

In truth, the House Benghazi report — while condemning the security in Benghazi, including the State Department’s own investigation — says essentially nothing new that hasn’t been found by prior investigations and congressional hearings.  They fleshed out a detail or two.  And that cost taxpayers $7 million dollars.

Cue sad trombone and sad elephant.

Meanwhile, Trump has not tweeted anything (nor has he tweeted anything about yesterday’s pro-choice Supreme Court decision)

More Brexit Fallout

The Dow dropped another 250 points today, as it (and other world markets) assessed the fallout from the UK’s decision to leave the EU.  At one point, it dipped to well below 300 points off.

In addition, Standard & Poor’s announced that it had lowered the United Kingdom’s sovereign credit rating from “AAA” to “AA,” citing last week’s referendum. Fitch, meanwhile, moved its rating from “AA+” to “AA.”

But others are beginning to see even more fallout.  For example. London’s position as one of the world’s premiere financial centers is bound to change in the wake of a vote to leave the European Union.  In coming years, it’s highly possible that major companies in London will no longer have unfettered access to the EU — and many firms have voiced a need to move employees elsewhere.

That’s where Dublin comes in.

“A lot of businesses in the U.K., in order to stay part of the EU, will expand operating subsidiaries or even redomicile to Ireland,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. “Having Dublin become more of a financial center could be part of the longer-term trajectory here.”

Dublin has a number of things going for it: First and foremost, as the capital of the Republic of Ireland, it’s still in the EU and will continue to enjoy freedom of trade and movement with Europe. It also has close proximity to London and Continental Europe, universal English language fluency, an existing banking presence, and a low tax policy.

 

The Politico Headline Says It All

Repubconven

Maybe Ted Nugent could play for three days straight.

And it is no wonder.  Trump is plummeting in even more polls. Here’s the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll:

Support for Donald Trump has plunged as he has alienated fellow Republicans and large majorities of voters overall in the course of a month of self-inflicted controversies, propelling Democrat Hillary Clinton to a double-digit lead nationally in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey finds sweeping unease with the presumptive Republican nominee’s candidacy — from his incendiary rhetoric and values to his handling of both terrorism and his own business — foreshadowing that the November election could be a referendum on Trump more than anything else.

Roughly two in three Americans say they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation; are anxious about the idea of him as president; believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias; and see his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican American heritage as racist.

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RT @chrisgeidner: BREAKING: #SCOTUS STRIKES DOWN BOTH Texas abortion provider restrictions in a 5-3 decision.

RT @HillaryClinton: SCOTUS’s decision is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right—not just on paper…

SCOTUS Strikes Down Oppressive Abortion Restrictions

This morning, the Supreme Court struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40.

The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. It applied a skeptical and exacting version of that decision’s “undue burden” standard to find that the restrictions in Texas went too far.

The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.

One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

“We conclude,” Justice Breyer wrote, “that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”

I’m not surprised by the outcome, nor am I surprised by swing justice Kennedy joining the “liberals” on the court.  Frankly, the Texas restrictions were NOT intended to support women’s health.  If you saw who proposed those restrictions (longtime Texas anti-abortion legislators) and listened to their rhetoric, “health of women” was a sham rationale.  Their real objective was to make abortion clinics so regulated that they could not afford to make the required changes, and eventually close down.  In fact, to date, twenty abortion clinics have closed down under those regulations.

So, yes, a victory, and it would have been a victory even if Scalia was alive and on the court.  But it does underscore the importance of the election and who gets to pick the next justices.

Arya taking care of family business tonight #GameofThrones

Wait. Is Tyrion coming on to Dany? #GameofThrones

RT @HayesBrown: producers: we need to substantially cut actor costs for the final two seasons

writers: SAY NO MORE

#GameofThrones

This show is going from having too many characters to, like, three of them #GameofThrones

Tommen has left the House!! #GameofThrones

Well, that’s one way to do it. BOOOOOOM #GameofThrones

Children of the Cersei #GameofThrones

Cersai has done something very very bad. Watching this unfold is beautiful and eerie #GameofThrones

You really don’t know much about the science of polling, do you.

RT @PaulBegala: Comments like this are why most Americans think @realDonaldTrump must never be our President:

RT @Marina_Sirtis: I am so disappointed with my people’s decision this morning. Just spectacularly unbelievable #Brexit

RT @joshtpm: For USA, this is what rest of world feels like when USA does something incredibly stupid,w/consequences for all but which they…

What Atrios Said

This is great:

WHEN TEXAS SECEDES….

The conversation with Uncle Sam will be something like:

You aren’t going to close your military bases, are you? Well, yes.
You aren’t going to close the borders and enact border checks, are you? Well, yes.
You aren’t going to require visas for Texan patriots to visit the US, are you? Quite possibly.
You aren’t going to end all of those transfer payments you make? Hell yes.
What about the Social Security owed to our residents? Interesting question, isn’t it.
There aren’t going to be tariffs between our nations, are there? Everything is negotiable.
My child just married an American. Will he be able to live in the US? That’s complicated…

etc.

RT @mmurraypolitics: Q: Should Scotland be able to declare its independence?

Trump: “That’s up to the people of Scotland… I love the peo…

RT @Lin_Manuel: Gonna be a lotta What Comes Next? playing today.
Lotta 🌍 turned 🙃.
That’s what music is for. Turn it up.

We’re Now A Golf Course

Idiot:

“If the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly,” he said, referring to the location of his resort. “For traveling and for other things, I think it very well could turn out to be positive.”

When a reporter pointed out that “the country is not a golf course,” Trump’s response was a staggering “no, it’s not, but you’d be amazed how similar it is.” That’s a statement that should give American voters pause, since Trump has driven his Scottish golf courses into the ground, financially speaking.

UPDATE – Clinton response ad:

The World Turned Upside Down

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The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU last night, and even though negotiations to leave will take years, the impact is felt now.  The pound sterling has dropped in value about 10 percent.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who proposed the referendum as a way to remain in office (even though he was against leaving), is quitting.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – overwhelmingly in absolute terms and evenly spread across Scotland. The roots of that are a deeper European identity, reflexive contrariness to England, a deeper attachment to social democracy and many other things. Just two years ago Scotland came just short of voting to leave the UK. One of the small ‘no’ arguments was whether the EU would allow the Scots, at least any time soon, to enter as an independent country. I have zero expertise on Scottish nationalism, but looking at the big picture – the span not of months but of years – it’s hard to see how Scotland doesn’t leave the UK now.

You can count on London losing several major international banks and thousands of jobs to Ireland, Scotland, and/or the continent, something that Farage and Johnson can explain to the sheeple who probably didn’t even know what the hell they were really voting for.

And the US stock market, which opened 35 minutes ago (as I write this) is down 384 points, not as bad as the 508 drop at the opening bell. [UPDATE at 4:10pm – Dow closed down 611, losing all gains made this year in one day] Now, to be sure, the initial markets today and Monday are going to be volatile, but they are also going to be meaningless.  The market needs to be watched, but how it looks two weeks, two months, and even two years from now is more important than how it looks today.  This is not the end of Brexit.  This is the beginning of it.  Years of negotiation about the terms of Brexit are to come.

Here, I think is the most important graph of the day:

Clq7LmNWkAQ5GA1

Yes indeed.  As it says, those who must live with the result of the EU referendum the longest want to remain.

What is the market reacting to?  Well, uncertainty.  Uncertainty about the terms of the UK exodus.  Uncertainty as to whether Scotland will leave the UK (Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain).  Uncertainty as to whether France and Germany might follow the UK.

The parallels between the Brexit vote and the US elections are not lost on anybody.  On one side, you have a populist, nationalist, anti-elite, anti-immigration movement — the equivalent of Trumpism here in the States.  On the other side, everybody else– from conservative to liberal — the so-called “elite” (which is actually a compliment).

Ignoring the advice of educated businessmen and politicians, the people of the United Kingdom have spoken, acting more on a sense of nationalism (yes, white nationalism) than reason.

Which is why — already — the United Kingdom is plummeting financially and the pound is worth far less than it was 24 hours ago.  It make trade more difficult for the UK.  It will make travel and foreign training and cultural exchange more expensive.

And some of the things that UK “leave” voters thought would be true simply won’t happen.  Check out this video, where Nigel Farage of the “once-fringe United Kingdom Independence Party” basically owns up to creating a sham “Leave” reason:

Writing for the Guardian, Diane Abbott summed up the Brexit results as a false promise:

For many Brexit voters the prime minister just confirmed to them how little the winners of globalisation like him cared about them, the losers.

If only the false promise that Britain’s malaise of disenfranchisement, voicelessness and an economic system that rewards the rich at the expense of the poor could be fixed by leaving the EU. The idea that migrants or politicians in Brussels are the problem with modern, unequal Britain was the canard at the core the referendum debate.

Britain’s problems come from a place much closer to home. They come from successive government policies that have promoted the financialisation of our economies and public services, thereby valuing profit over people. They come from a Tory government slashing public services and widening inequality under the dubious banner of austerity. And they come from a prime minister who was passionate about nothing but his own political survival.

These problems are so systemic today that fixing them will take a radical change to the structure of both our economy and political class. More of the past will not do to resolve the very real and interconnected global issues of our time: vast and rising wealth inequality, climate change and a foreign policy trapped in a cycle of destruction.

That feels about right.  And the pro-Brexit pundits and politicians are a lot like the dog who finally caught the car.  NOW WHAT?

And those sentiments exist here among those who feel like they are globalization’s losers and the political class’ victims. And who do they listen to?  TRUMP.  Got Mexicans? No problemo. TRUMP stops unwanted immigrants in their tracks. Pesky establishment? TRUMP politically incorrects for that. Lost your job? TRUMP again. Whites not white enough? TRUMP will make them bolder if not brighter.

Trump — located ironically in Scotland today to cut ribbons on his golf course (for the elites) — is, of course, praising this.

For the rest of us, this is a cautionary tale.

And how about this for a plot twist: The Brexit may not happen at all. There have already been murmurs that Thursday’s vote will lead the EU to offer new, more generous terms to convince Britain to stay, prompting a second referendum. An online petition calling for a re-do drew so much traffic that it crashed the U.K. government’s website Friday morning. This is, to be clear, a very unlikely scenario — the referendum results were close, but not that close, and none of Britain’s leaders is backing the idea of a new vote so far. But in theory, it is still possible that we could do all of this again.

Sidenote

Vocativ reports:

After residents of the UK voted today to leave the European Union, the movement for an independent Texas may be gaining serious momentum, with thousands online calling for a “Texit.”

The largest group agitating for secession is the Texas Nationalist Movement, which has been promoting its own version of Brexit, called Texit, over the past several weeks. The group has taken inspiration from the pro-exit campaign in Britain, noting that the two movements share many of the same principles.

Scotland voted REMAIN, you idiot.

RT @WillMcAvoyACN: It’s like @realDonaldTrump doesn’t actually know what the fuck is going on in the world.

RT @WillMcAvoyACN: Oceans rise, empires fall

RT @KagroX: This is your fault for ending Downton Abbey, by the way.

BBC, ITV and Sky News all now calling it for LEAVE. Amazing.

RT @FullFrontalSamB: We ran out of paper towels. Guess we can just use these. #Brexit https://t.co/ilQ9Ar0Gb2
rt-fullfrontalsamb-we-ran-out-of-paper-towels-guess-we-can-just-use-these-brexit-httpst-coilq9ar0gb2 

RT @RexHuppke: It’s so refreshing to see another country seem amazingly dumb for a change. #brexit

RT @Hariboconomics: The pound has gone from $1.50 to $1.36 in a little over three hours.

RT @GavinHJackson: Double checked and yes, lowest since the early 80s for sterling against the dollar.

Dow futures are plummeting because LEAVE is winning Brexit vote, but it’s still early

RT @danpfeiffer: GOPers ending the Democrats’ demonstration for gun laws so they can vote to help Wall Street is all you need to know about…

RT @seungminkim: Sen. Tillis, former NC House speaker, says if he ran the House, he would’ve had the Dems arrested if they didn’t stop over…

You Can Now Make Star Trek Movies….

… and you won’t get sued for copyright infringement, as long as you follow these guidelines, just released by CBS and Paramount:

Guidelines for Avoiding Objections:
  1. The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.  
  2. The title of the fan production or any parts cannot include the name “Star Trek.” However, the title must contain a subtitle with the phrase: “A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION” in plain typeface. The fan production cannot use the term “official” in either its title or subtitle or in any marketing, promotions or social media for the fan production.
  3. The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations or clips from any Star Trek production. If non-Star Trek third party content is used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing.
  4. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
  5. The fan production must be a real “fan” production, i.e., creators, actors and all other participants must be amateurs, cannot be compensated for their services, and cannot be currently or previously employed on any Star Trek series, films, production of DVDs or with any of CBS or Paramount Pictures’ licensees.
  6. The fan production must be non-commercial:
    • CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease.
    • The fan production must only be exhibited or distributed on a no-charge basis and/or shared via streaming services without generating revenue.
    • The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray.
    • The fan production cannot be used to derive advertising revenue including, but not limited to, through for example, the use of pre or post-roll advertising, click-through advertising banners, that is associated with the fan production.
    • No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.
    • The fan production cannot derive revenue by selling or licensing fan-created production sets, props or costumes.
  7. The fan production must be family friendly and suitable for public presentation. Videos must not include profanity, nudity, obscenity, pornography, depictions of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or any harmful or illegal activity, or any material that is offensive, fraudulent, defamatory, libelous, disparaging, sexually explicit, threatening, hateful, or any other inappropriate content. The content of the fan production cannot violate any individual’s right of privacy.
  8. The fan production must display the following disclaimer in the on-screen credits of the fan productions and on any marketing material including the fan production website or page hosting the fan production:
    “Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”
  9. Creators of fan productions must not seek to register their works, nor any elements of the works, under copyright or trademark law.
  10. Fan productions cannot create or imply any association or endorsement by CBS or Paramount Pictures.
CBS and Paramount Pictures reserve the right to revise, revoke and/or withdraw these guidelines at any time in their own discretion. These guidelines are not a license and do not constitute approval or authorization of any fan productions or a waiver of any rights that CBS or Paramount Pictures may have with respect to fan fiction created outside of these guidelines.

Brexit

As the polls close in Britain, I thought I would weigh in on the historical vote to see if England will leave the European Union.

And I say, without a whole lot of knowledge, that is seems like a bad idea to me, and sentiments to get out of the EU seem to be based on nothing more than nationalism, rather than any sort of strong evidence that England will do better outside the EU.  Put another way, brexiting seems like Trumpism, England-style.  It appears to be riding on a wave of anti-immigration and even xenophobia.

I hope, for their sake mostly, that it doesn’t pass.

Turnout is a key decider in the referendum. A high turnout should benefit the pro-EU, because that would suggest younger people, who often support continued membership but are less likely to vote, did actually show up at the ballot box.

Reports of bad weather — rain and flooding — are coming in — this is going to have a negative impact on turnout.

When will we know who wins?

  • Voting starts at 7 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. (2 a.m.-5 p.m. ET), but there won’t be any exit polls by the major broadcasters because of concerns over accuracy. Some smaller research companies and financial firms, worried about what the outcome could mean for their customers, markets and currency volatility, have commissioned private exit polls but: They probably won’t share them and only the truly brave would rely on these to call the race given that they may be a little untested in surveys of this kind or even vested in the result.
  • It is illegal in Britain to publish the results of any exit poll before voting finishes at 10 p.m. local time.
  • The Electoral Commission says it expects to have a result around “breakfast time” Friday in the U.K. When it says a result, it means it expects to have counted all 382 wards voting. There are small and large areas, so they each have a different weight in determining the overall result. The first of the announcements are due around 11:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET). By 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. (10 p.m.-11 p.m.), half should be counted. By 5 a.m. (midnight ET), 80% should be counted, it says. But it’s important to remember that while the Electoral Commission will release the counts on individual wards through the night, it won’t formally release a verdict until everything’s counted.

Trump Forgives Loans To His Campaign

Reuters reports:

Donald Trump has forgiven $50 million in loans he made to his campaign, a top staffer said on Thursday, signaling to donors that future contributions will be used to fight Democrat Hillary Clinton and not to repay himself.

The announcement that Trump will not seek reimbursement, made by his campaign finance chief in a CNBC interview, came amid concerns from his backers that he will not be able to adequately fund his White House bid.

“(Trump) loaned $50 million to the campaign. He’s now forgiven that loan. So that is a contribution” by Trump, Steve Mnuchin said, referring to a series of loans made over the past year.

“(Trump) has also said he will contribute significantly more money,” said Mnuchin, the top fundraiser for Trump’s campaign.

He also told CNBC that the presumptive Republican nominee has seen a strong uptick in fundraising in the last week.

Mnuchin said Trump raised about $10 million in conjunction with the Republican Party at fundraising events this week. Trump also raised another $6 million through online donations, Mnuchin said, following the wealthy New York businessman’s first attempt to appeal to supporters to contribute to his campaign.

I would check the fine print.  I suspect there is a piece of paper somewhere that would allow Trump — perhaps through a complicated series of transactions — to get his money back.  Wait.

Democratic House Sit-In Enters Day Two

Late last night, Ryan managed to adjourn the House until after the July 4th break:

After a chaotic, daylong occupation of the House floor, Republican leaders moved in the middle of the night to cut off House Democrats’ gun control “sit-in” by adjourning the House through the July 4 — without a vote on gun control.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought to to quell the Democratic demonstration by having lawmakers vote at 2:30 a.m. on several bills they had to pass this week, including one to combat the Zika virus. After that, Republican leaders sent lawmakers home until July 5, starting their already-scheduled recess a few days earlier than planned.

All of this is ostensibly to pass a “no fly, no buy” bill — i.e., if you are on the “no fly” or any other government terrorist watch list, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.  This is the legislation offered by Senator Feinstein and now Representative Lowey.

And to be honest, there’s legitimate worry that these lists are not very good, that they deny people due process, and that they have a disparate impact when it is used to deny people rights, like the right to board an airplane or (as now proposed) to purchase a firearm. These are some of the reasons why the ACLU opposes the Feinstein/Lowey legislation. Republican opponents raise some of the same issues.

The question, then, is whether the sit-in the Democrats waged yesterday and the fuss they made in the Senate before that are in the service of bad legislation that would ratify a badly flawed system that is already being misused for the no-fly system. Would it grant even more power to the FBI which they could then expand or misuse?

If you restrict yourself to seeing this kerfuffle as about the merits of this proposed legislation, then the answer to those questions is surely ‘yes.’

But this is not a fully developed appreciation of what is going on.

To start with, the Democrats are responding to yet another massacre in which dozens of people were killed or injured in mere minutes by the use of a power semi-automatic rifle. In the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, 26 people were gunned down in approximately five minutes. In the 2012 Aurora massacre, seventy people were shot. In Aurora, the police arrived within 90 seconds of receiving a call. In Sandy Hook, the first police car was there four minutes after they were notified of a shooting situation. Congress has had no answer for how we might prevent or reduce the frequency and lethality of these types of attacks.

What the Democrats are trying to do is break grip the National Rifle Association has on Congress. The heart of that effort has been to leverage overwhelming public support for expanded background checks, but that legislation has gone nowhere. The effort to impose a “no-fly, no-buy” provision will likewise go nowhere in this Republican-controlled Congress, but it also enjoys overwhelming public support. By trying to force votes on these two issues, the Democrats are highlighting the Republicans refusal to address the problem of the ready availability of extraordinarily lethal firearms. Whether the Republicans cast votes or refuse to allow them (as they have done by recessing until after July 4th), this puts them badly on the wrong side of public opinion and heightens their vulnerability to electoral defeat.

It’s not a cynical ploy to gain power. It’s a recognition that all avenues are blocked except getting more power. So, the way this gambit should be judged is on whether it works politically, and not so much on whether the watch list is a flawed mechanism for restricting the rights of anyone for any purpose.

So, if nothing happens, the watch list will continue to have flaws and it will continue to expand. But, if the watch list were to actually be used to restrict gun ownership, the Republicans would suddenly care about those flaws and want to do something to make sure that folks have due process, the right to appeal, and that conservatives aren’t disproportionately impacted. Conservatives tend not to have empathy until they’re personally impacted. When Arlen Specter got sick, he became a champion of the National Institute of Health, and when Rob Portman discovered he had a gay son, he suddenly saw the light on gay marriage. If Republicans think the watch list only inconveniences Muslims from Dearborn, Michigan, they’ll never have any interest in fixing its flaws. But if it impacts one of their assault-rifle loving constituents who can’t figure out how to get taken off this list? That will interest them.

UPDATE (1:09 pm) — Aaaaand it’s over.

House Democrats are now hugging, shaking hands, and taking photos on the floor. The sit-in is now over, and they plan to address supporters outside the Capitol in the next few minutes.

Whether it was a “win” or not, everyone will have a different take.  No vote, of course, but that was pie-in-the-sky.  It raised the profile of the gun control issue, it heightened notice that the Republicans and the GOP leadership are controlled by the NRA.  That’s all good.

Lady Dynamite: A Review

I have had a girlfriend with bipolar issues, and another who has since developed identity diffusion disorder* (formally known as multiple personality disorder).  I’ve worked with informal counselling of families and friends of people stricken with mental illness.  Because of that, I can attest to the fact that it is no picnic to be in their shoes, or anywhere near their shoes (especially when they are not taking care of themselves).

This is why I am so enamored of Maria Bamford who not only handles her affliction head on, but turns it into a comedy both VERY funny and VERY personal.  Her illness is played for laughs.  It’s not the first to do this (“Orange Is The New Black” does this too), but Bamford goes the extra mile by letting the audience know that her mind, while humorous from a distance, is actually pretty scary too.  And she seems to make the audience understand that mania, while enthralling and objectively empowering, actually is dangerous to the point of being life-threatening.  Watching her, you know that Bamford has worked to maintain her stability, knowing what is good for her and what isn’t, but you also know that it is work (and pills and therapy and….) that never ends.

So here’s a review of the show from Slate:

In a scene toward the end of the first season of Lady Dynamite, the Netflix comedy starring Maria Bamford, Maria shares her concern about her lack of friends with her life coach, Karen (played with perfectly vapid sincerity by Jenny Slate).  At first, Karen answers with well-worn therapy jargon, telling Maria, “The only friendship you need to be concerned with is the one with the gal in the mirror.” Maria presses her, saying, “I’m just worried, because the only two friends I have left who will still be friends with me are Dagmar and Larissa”—to which Karen cheerfully responds, “Yeah, because you’re bipolar and you’re incredibly hard to stay friends with. I mean, people are really just going to fall by the wayside. And that’s life … for you.”

What’s remarkable about this exchange is not Karen’s apparent callousness in the face of her client’s troubles. In fact, by the episode’s end, Maria abandons her goal of “no friend left behind,” realizing that not all friendships are worth the sacrifices required to keep them. What makes this scene, and Lady Dynamite as a whole, so refreshing, is that Karen is exactly right. Maria isn’t an easy person to be friends with. She is thoughtful and eager to please, but her good intentions don’t always make up for her bad decisions.  And her desire to help those around her can’t prevent her brain from turning stress into mania, or stop the destructive behavior mania incites.

Maria’s life coach is just one of the many voices of harsh truth throughout the show’s 12-episode season. Some of these truth-tellers are more tactful than others. In the blue-tinted scenes representing Maria’s time in Duluth, MN, taking part in psychiatric outpatient therapy after a severe manic episode, her parents are shown to be kind and patient, but also matter-of-fact about her illness. When her mom scolds her dad for going out just as Maria arrives home, he replies to them both, “I thought we weren’t going to treat her differently just because her frontal lobe went on the fritz.” Her obnoxious best friend from childhood adds her own insight, musing: “Isn’t that funny, all the fame and fortune of Hollywood can’t save ya, if your brain done broke.”

Many of the tone-deaf comments Maria hears regarding her life with Bipolar Disorder (“Actually, I’m Bipolar II,” she tells her life coach, to which her life coach replies, “Right, which means you’re twice as hard to stay friends with.”) are played for laughs. But the humor is that much sharper for its proximity to truth. One of the major themes of the season, and one of the most sincere and affecting elements of Maria’s character, is her struggle to honestly state her own feelings, especially when they are unpleasant or scary. Whether she’s agreeing to act in ad campaigns of increasing absurdity (the most memorable of the bunch being the Bamford Pepper Stepper Pepper-Bot, a backpack-sized robot that feeds whole bell peppers to the jogger wearing it) or buying a nicer house than she needs to please her childhood friend’s aggressive real estate agent (a convincingly intimidating June Diane Raphael), Maria’s inability to say what she really thinks threatens to destroy not only her career, but also her closest friendships and romantic relationships.

While the desire to avoid conflict clearly isn’t new for a TV character (pick almost any sitcom of the last several decades and you’ll clearly find plenty of storylines set into motion by one character withholding information from another), Maria’s fear of sharing her thoughts is based on more than a simple desire to be liked. The character of Maria, like the real Maria Bamford, has good reason to fear how other people might react to her true thoughts., She perceives the world through a lens that is hers alone. This unique view is what makes her such a great comic, and what has earned her such a respected perch within L.A.’s alternative comedy scene. Her albums and specials are full of jokes that range from absurdly hilarious to disturbingly dark, often told in a number of different voices (outside of stand-up, Bamford’s greatest success has been in doing voice work for commercials and animated programs). She is physically small and outwardly cheerful, which highlights by contrast her frequently grim comedic observations. This apparent contradiction is what makes Maria the character, and Lady Dynamite the series, feel so refreshing amid a wide range of half-hour shows featuring stand-up comedians. And it is also what singles out Lady Dynamite’s depiction of mental illness from every other show on television.

Depictions of mental illness on TV have generally grown increasingly nuanced and considered in recent decades, with prestige dramas from The Sopranos to Homeland, treating mentally ill protagonists with seriousness and respect. In the past year, comedies like You’re the Worst, and Crazy Ex Girlfriend have presented characters who are highly functional, frequently charming, and relatively successful, despite living with ongoing symptoms. But Lady Dynamite goes even further. Instead of treating mental illness as an obstacle for a character to overcome, or a device to explain otherwise nonsensical actions, Lady Dynamite builds it into the very fabric of its world. It mines tragedy for comedy, showing us a character who is herself struggling to find the humor within her own terrible pain. It’s the rare comedy that shows us that the reality of mental illness is that darkness can coexist with creativity and fun and hope.

Like Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, or fibromyalgia, Maria’s mental illness will never go away completely. Even after months of psychiatric care, Maria returns to Los Angeles knowing the risk of a manic episode or a suicidal depression isn’t entirely behind her. She actively tries to do the things she knows will help her stay healthy, but the dark realities have not changed, and neither has her desire to make people like her. (When her mother tells her not to look to others for approval, Maria replies, “But that’s literally what standup is, looking for approval from strangers.”).

The wisest advice Maria receives over the course of the first season comes from another comically blunt therapist. While taking part in an art-therapy group at the Duluth psych ward, Maria tries to stop two other patients who are arguing over the magazine cut-outs for their vision boards. Maria says, “Hey, we’re all here to get along.” Without missing a beat, the group therapist corrects her, saying, “No, Maria, we are not. We are all here to better ourselves and sometimes that means expressing your negative emotions in a constructive way.” Trying to set an example, the therapist goes on to tell her patients that they stress her out so much that she sometimes contemplates taking “all the pills” in her desk. She laughs as she says this, patting another patient on the shoulder.

Maria is generally realistic, but she is also an optimist. She believes that happiness, healthy relationships and basic human kindness are not only worth striving for, but are achievable. Her challenge, and the challenge of Lady Dynamite, is balancing that hope and desire for good with the realities of her suffering. The entire show is an exercise in following the art-therapy teacher’s advice: finding a way to use the fear and pain of mental illness to construct something that ultimately brings joy. Just as in life, the truth can be painful, but it can also be incredibly funny.

* No “You sure can pick ’em” comments please.