Greta Thunberg is a hero.
On Wednesday, Greta Thunberg bluntly told Congress that it's time to step up and actually do something about climate change. "You're not trying hard enough. Sorry," said the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist.
Thunberg and four other student activists were invited to speak to the House Climate Crisis Committee and a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee about climate change. Rather than read her prepared remarks, Thunberg submitted the UN's 2018 report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Why? "I don't want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists."
"This is not political views or my opinions," said Thunberg. "This is science."
Everything Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Said Before Congress | NBC New York www.youtube.com
We've got a new book club coming up, some George Orwell history, Molly Ivins, and non-Newtonian cat physics.
The news continues to be terrible, and so we continue to need these weekly reminders that not everything is horrible -- just the biggest things going on right now! There, don't you feel a lot better?
In hyper-local news, a Boise man continues to enjoy having adopted a cat recently:
What's the deal with cats and boxes, huh?
Get Elizabeth Warren's Government Hands Off Our Social Security! Just Kidding, Liz, FEEL IT UP PROPER!
As an Old Fart, Yr Dox Zoom is all for this!
Elizabeth Warren has a crazy idea: Instead of acting like Paul Ryan should ever have been taken seriously, even once, how about we improve Social Security? She proposes increasing monthly Social Security benefits for everyone currently receiving them by $200 a month, and also taking steps to improve the retirement incomes of those who traditionally have not been able to get much out of Social Security because the system was never very kind to some kinds of workers: "women and caregivers, low-income workers, public sector workers, students and job-seekers, and people with disabilities." Not surprisingly, it's paid for by increasing Social Security taxes on the top two percent of Americans, who currently pay a far smaller portion of their income into the system than most workers.
It's a heck of a good plan, and an economic analysis by Mark Zandy of Moody's Analytics found it would raise 4.9 million seniors out of poverty, increase economic growth, stabilize the Social Security program, and even reduce the federal deficit by a trillion dollars over 10 years. Let's take a look at this sucker, and then have a nice nap. Is there a draft in here?
She terrifies the big banks! Oh, and, uh, that's really BAD!
CNBC host Jim Cramer handed Elizabeth Warren a great talking point Tuesday, when he and some of the network's other talking heads fretted about what Warren would do to those poor, long-suffering megabanks. The big banks, Cramer said, are simply terrified of Warren, and golly, the rest of America should share their concerns, since don't most Americans empathize deeply with the Wall Street bankers who crashed the economy a decade ago? Remember, back when Cramer was insisting Bear Stearns was a great stock to buy, shortly before the bank collapsed? Jon Stewart had some fun with that, way back in the day!
Yes, our frame of reference for "Jim Cramer" will always be Jon Stewart. What, Cramer thinks we should call him "Jimmy the bar builder?" No, here's Jim "the sheep fucker" Cramer and his worries about what Warren will do to the banks, and America. Roll 212!
If only Jon Stewart could have been there!
That was one hell of a short week, huh?
Welcome, Wonkers, to another Sunday Nice Things, your weekly shelter from the endless crapstorm of awfulness out there. Time to take a break, have a cuppa, and relax for a moment. We'd tell you to put your feet up, but we saw what you tracked in.
In hyper-local news, a Boise area man was immobilized for nearly an hour by his recently-adopted cat, Thornton, who wanted a hug.
I am at this moment typing with a cat in my lap; the little purrbooger has an arm and his chin resting on my left forearm. It's exactly what I signed up for. Now let's get on with the Nicetiming, shall we?
Yay for public outcry fixing shit that shouldn't have been broken to start with.
Here's the good-news update to that awful story of Trumplandia in Action! Ismail Ajjawi, the 17-year-old Palestinian refugee kid who was deported from the US in late August after a customs inspector at Logan Airport didn't like things written by Ajjawi's Facebook friends, finally made it back to the USA in time to start classes at Harvard on Tuesday.
The group that sponsored Ajjawi, Amideast,
said in a statement that the United States Embassy in Beirut reviewed Mr. Ajjawi's case and reissued a visa. Harvard officials confirmed that Mr. Ajjawi was on campus.
Ajjawi's attorney, Albert Mokhiber, thanked Harvard and Amideast for all their efforts to get the kid on campus in time for the beginning of classes.
"The anxiety was beyond belief for everybody," Mr. Mokhiber said. "Thank God it all worked out."
Mr. Ajjawi made it to Harvard on Monday in time to appear in his class photo, Mr. Mokhiber said, adding that Mr. Ajjawi was taken aside by Lawrence Bacow, the president of the university.
"I told his dad, the hard part begins today, he's at Harvard, and we had a little chuckle over that," Mr. Mokhiber said.
Hooray for a brief victory for sane people!
Heading up to Nice Things for the Labor Day weekend show.
You guys. YOU GUYS.
Yr Wonkette received a cease and desist letter two nights ago. And it's from none other than our favorite black white nationalists (ALLEGEDLY), Gravel and Polyester. I mean Diamond and Silk. And I, A LAWYER, am just MANY EXCITE to tell you all about it.
People used to shake sticks at things a lot more in the olden days I guess.
Yr Dok Zoom has gone and adopted a cat, a nice big 6-year-old fellow named Thornton. Today's Nice Things is going to be completely different from last Sunday's, because last week all the cat photos were of Thornton before we brought him home, and now he lives with us and all the cat pictures will be of Thornton lazing around on his cat tree. So it's very different! Thornton and I would like to thank highly respected political pundit Our Girlfriend for acquiring the cat tree from a neighbor, who also provided many cat toys, about which, more later. We also thank you, Dear Reader, for indulging us as we tell you all about this big affectionate doofus who now follows us around the apartment, asking little cat questions. We assume they all translate to either "Why are you not feeding me?"
Trust us, he's been fed.
The ACLU is about to get a $223,000 donation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Welp, Kim Davis is back.
Don't worry, she isn't, like, running for public office, or even really doing much of anything. But she's back in the news, which means we had to remember that she exists, and that's never really a good time.
On the other hand, Davis is back in the news because she and the Commonwealth of Kentucky got their asses handed to them, and that actually IS a good time!
In a pair of decisions from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Kim Davis got properly benchslapped for her blatant violation of the US Constitution.
Davis is represented in these cases by the nutjobs over at Liberty Counsel, the "religious liberty" organization that specializes in hate speech and discrimination. And it's always fun to watch them get smacked around a little, too.
Miller v. Davis
In Miller v. Davis, the ACLU represents four couples whose constitutional and civil rights were violated when Davis decided to go full homophobe and refuse to issue marriage licenses after Obergefell made marriage equality the law nationwide.
Back when this all happened, Kentucky's asshole Governor, Matt Bevin, praised Davis and called her bigotry "an inspiration ... to the children of America." And his general counsel said "Bevin doesn't believe Davis acted unconstitutionally and continues to support her actions." Despite that, the commonwealth tried to get out of footing the bill for Davis's indefensible actions, claiming Davis wasn't a state actor when she blatantly violated the law. On Friday, the Sixth Circuit said, "Sorry, Matt, it's time to pony up."
Here's how the court described what happened in Miller:
Under the "American Rule," parties typically pay their own attorney's fees. Congress created an exception, though, for plaintiffs who win cases against government officials over civil-rights violations. Here, plaintiffs applied for marriage licenses only to find that Kim Davis, who oversaw marriage licensing for Rowan County, Kentucky, wouldn't issue them. So they sued her for infringing their constitutional right to marry, and the district court ordered Davis to give them what they wanted. Once they obtained licenses (or chose not to seek them again), they chose not to pursue the lawsuit any further. But they did pursue attorney's fees, which the district court awarded and required the Commonwealth of Kentucky to pay.
The defendants tried to argue that no one should have to pay for the plaintiffs' attorneys fees, but the court shut them down pretty hard. The next issue was who should have to pay -- the commonwealth, the county, or Davis. Because issuing marriage licenses is the responsibility of the commonwealth, the court ruled Kentucky had to pay.
So the ACLU has a nice $222,695 coming its way, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Ermold v. Davis
Ermold v. Davis is a second suit related to Davis's fuckery after Obergefell. That case is at a much earlier stage than Miller and the issue here was whether Davis can be sued by two other couples for violating their constitutional rights.
There's a shitty doctrine called qualified immunity that shields government officials from being sued for damages in a lot of circumstances. We could rant about it all day, but because we're here to celebrate Kim Davis being held accountable for her actions, we'll spare you. Suffice it to say, it helps shitty people get away with shitty things all the time.
But it doesn't apply here! As the court put it:
For a reasonable official, Obergefell left no uncertainty [about the law]. For Davis, however, the message apparently didn't get through. And it still doesn't appear to have gotten through: She now argues that Obergefell doesn't even apply to her conduct.
As you can probably tell from that language, the Sixth Circuit was not particularly amused with Davis's arguments, here.
But that's not all! Davis also tried to argue that Obergefell didn't apply to her, because the couples could have gone to other Kentucky counties to exercise their constitutional rights. The court didn't take kindly to that argument, either.
Davis provides no legal authority for that proposition. We can find none. And we know why: that's not how qualified immunity works, and that's not how constitutional rights work.
THAT'S NOT HOW THE CONSTITUTION WORKS, KIM!
It sucks that these cases have to be brought, but it's always great to see hateful assholes get what's coming to them. And the ACLU is about to get a $223,000 donation from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
We have kitties, armed bears, and an update on our favorite cussy botany guy.
It's Sunday, which means it's time for Nice Things, which you may have heard we can't have, bu au contraire, Pessimism Puss! -- we have them right here, hurrah! And as many of you already knew, Yr. Dok Zoom's gone and fallen in love with a kitty that he'll be bringing home Monday or Tuesday, depending on when he gets his apartment cleaned up. Kids, say hi to Thornton:
If Thornton decides to shred our already sad-looking couch, we're OK with that. He's the nice thing, after all. But we'll buy a good sturdy scratching post anyway.
Yes, even if they're in cages. And about those cages...
A federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration's claim that detained immigrant children don't necessarily need little luxuries like soap, toothbrushes, edible food, or even a place to sleep. In a ruling yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the government really and truly does have to comply with the 1997 Flores agreement that sets requirements for how the government treats undocumented children in detention.
Flores requires children be held in "safe and sanitary conditions," but in June, DOJ lawyer Sarah Fabian argued that since the consent decree doesn't specifically define "safe and sanitary," then the government can treat detained kids however it wants, as long as it's not actively injuring them too badly. You're alive and not up to your needs in filth? You're safe and sanitary! Next you'll be complaining the water in cells tastes like bleach, even though bleach is very very sanitary indeed.
We've got stupid questions, marauding owls, and the aforesaid dogs.
Yr Wonkette remembers our first years at this this little mommyblog, when August was a really slow time for news. Congress was on recess, and it always seemed like a good time to review the history of the phrase "the silly season," which actually goes all the way back to at least 1861. (Wikipedia notes that's primarily a British phrase, but it gets used here too, along with the more prosaic "slow news season.") Yeah, we remember slow news days. Good times, man.
But since our universe entered its current crapsack phase, there are no slow news days: it's all madness all the time, and the silly season, like competent governing, is largely a matter of nostalgia. Mister, we could use some tipsy bow-tie-wearing ducks getting into pub fights with dogs again. Come to think of it, the August-September 2012 slow news season is when Yr Wonkette started throwing My Little Pony memes all over at least one writer's articles. But we digress. Point is, there is still a place for silliness, and Sundays at Wonkette is it.
Bad times: Innocent people are in prison!
Badass Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner is at it again. After spending half of his life in prison for a murder he didn't commit, 44-year old John Miller was released from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution -- Mahanoy last week.
John Miller isn't alone; wrongful convictions are much more common than most people think. Nearly 2,500 people have been exonerated nationwide since 1989 -- and lost a collective 21,725 years to a flawed criminal justice system.
Jesus God America.
Waking up to news of a second mass shooting within 24 hours, we have to admit it almost seemed inappropriate to be bringing you kittens and puppies and lite news things. There's so much horror -- is it irresponsible to look away? But we had this thing partly written already, and maybe it would help to have some reminders that not everything in the world is awful. Rest assured; our intent isn't to distract, but to offer a chance to recharge before we all get back into our daily focus on what this damned country needs to work on. Let's take a moment to breathe.
Which Presidential Candidates Would You Allow To Dogsit?
By the end of Wednesday's debate, we were ready to ditch the CNN-arranged slugfest, and along came this Twitter thread by Lauren Hough, who is very much worth following. Her political analysis via doggos is very accurate, too.
Go read the whole thing; it's beautiful and no, we won't steal the entire thread. Also, she's right about Warren, we suspect.
Look At This Sunlit Hummingbird! Just Look At It!
These are some gorgeous photos by Christian Spencer; go see the full set!
How To End Your Civil War Diary
Military history PhD candidate Eric Michael Burke found the perfect ending for a Civil War diary; the diarist is Private Calvin Ainsworth, of the 25th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.
I have been gone three years. I meet my wife and Oh, such a greeting. I left our baby boy in the cradle, six weeks old. I find him walking the fence. I said to my wife, "That boy will surely fall off the fence", and my wife said, "That boy will never fall off the fence", and he never did.
Add Ashokan Farewell as needed.
A Couple Things To Read
1. Game Theory. The Atlantic explainers how the game "Candy Land" was invented by a San Diego schoolteacher, Eleanor Abbott, to give little kids stuck in a polio ward something to keep them occupied. Not a lot is known about Abbott, but she knew exactly what kids were going through -- first hand:
There is reason to believe that Abbott was ideally suited to consider polio from a child's perspective. As a schoolteacher, she would have been acquainted with children's thoughts and needs. And in 1948, when she was in her late 30s, she herself contracted the disease. Abbott recuperated in the polio ward of a San Diego hospital, spending her convalescence primarily among children.
Imagine what it must have been like to share an entire hospital ward with children struggling against polio, day after day, as an adult. Kids are poorly equipped to cope with boredom and separation from their loved ones under normal circumstances. But it would be even more unbearable for a child confined to a bed or an iron lung. That was the context in which Abbott made her recovery.
The very earliest editions of the game feature a little boy wearing a leg brace. And there's a good argument to be made that Candy Land may have been more than just a way to pass the time. Its bright colors were a distraction from the institutional white of a hospital ward, and the whole game "functions as a mobility fantasy."
It simulates a leisurely stroll instead of the studied rigor of therapeutic exercise. And unlike the challenges of physical therapy, movement in Candy Land is so effortless, it's literally all one can do.
2. Warming Trends. Columbia Journalism Review reports audiences are finally paying a lot more attention to stories on climate. That could mean a change in the amount of coverage the topic gets in popular media. And damn, is that change needed!
Last fall, when the United Nations released a landmark climate report concluding that disastrous impacts of warming were nearer than previously thought and that rapid, worldwide changes were necessary, many leading outlets didn't cover the news at all. This spring, major networks devoted significantly more airtime to the royal baby than they did to climate change; ABC's World News Tonight, in particular, gave the baby more coverage in a week than it did climate change over the entirety of 2018.
An analysis of online reader behavior suggests public demand for more, and better, climate reporting may be increasing. CJR asked Chartbeat data scientist Su Hang to analyze "roughly 1,300 media websites worldwide (mostly in North America and Europe)" from January 2017 through June of this year.
Looking at the first quarter of each year, she found that the number of "engaged minutes" site visitors spent with climate stories in the first quarter of 2019—in other words, the minutes people spent reading—had almost doubled from the time spent in previous years. "The amount of time and attention readers are paying to climate change is strong and growing stronger," Hang says.
Reader data from the Los Angeles Times similarly shows climate reporting "has outperformed average stories in other news sections," and The Guardian says its fundraising for climate coverage has brought in some of the strongest donations of any beat -- and there again, "contributions resulting from environmental coverage were up 50 percent compared with the year before." In-depth climate stories are also getting far more views at the New York Times; what's more, subscriptions to its "Climate Fwd:" newsletter are way up. A CBS News VP says climate isn't just one of those eat your vegetables things that people need to be persuaded to read, but is becoming a genuine market: "This is going to affect almost every aspect of human life [...] I really consider it the beat of the future."
Yes, like taking action to reduce greenhouse gases, this should have happened decades ago. But as readers demand more and better coverage, we may start getting to a sort of informational tipping point that will lead to real political and economic change, late though it may be. That's the sort of positive feedback loop we need.
Random Twitter Wonderfulness
This disheveled baby parrot is our spirit animal.
The full pic is epic, and appears to have been bouncing around the interwebs since at least 2017.
Note to influential political pundit Our Girlfriend: when your daughter says she's tired of sending you new baby pics (Welcome again, Octavia, and God Damn It You've Got to Be Kind!), text THAT pic back.
Editorial comment over.
Hug someone you love. Pet a dog or cat or bearded dragon. Take a news hiatus if you need to. Watch that Steven Universe self-forgiveness song if it helps. And we'll get back to the politics soon enough. Yr Wonkette Loves You.
Yr Wonkette is supported 100 percent by you, the reader. If you can spare the money for a donation, that would be the nicest thing of all!
Dems in This Array!
Ilhan Omar posted a fine couple of photos to Twitter on Thursday to remind Donald Trump he's not getting her down, not one bit. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (and other members of Congress) were visiting Ghana as part of a trip to mark the 400th anniversary of the first slave ships coming to North America. So while visiting the Cape Coast Castle, one of many points from which enslaved people were shipped off to the Americas, Omar posed for a couple of snapshots with Nancy Pelosi, to say they're getting along just fine, and anyone who has a problem with either can just go find a door and not return from it.
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