Under Pressure

Finally replaced my (badly beat up and aging) slow cooker with an Instant Pot pressure cooker (that also does slow-cooker duty, as needed).

Broke it in this weekend to make some steel-cut irish oatmeal for brunch, then some chopped up some garlic and celery and tossed it into the pot with some frozen chicken (covered in 2:1 water and white wine) for supper. Took probably 45 minutes to cook, which I consider pretty good for rock-solid frozen chicken, and came out yummy. I'm sold.

Ditch your slow cooker for a pressure cooker
On Serious Eats, Kenji Lopez-Alt tests out different recipes using slow cookers, Dutch ovens, and pressure cookers and comes to th


Here’s the thing: the Hamilton/Pence drama is just that: drama.


It distracts from Trump’s $25million settlement with 6000 defrauded Americans.

It distracts from the Washington Post “stay to play” story about Trump coaxing foreign diplomats to stay at his D.C. hotel.

It distracts from his hiring Jeff Sessions as Attorney General – a Senator who was denied a federal judge appointment by a REPUBLICAN Senate, during the REAGAN era, for being racist.

It distracts from his hiring Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist – a white nationalist who wants to "tear America down" and who compares HIMSELF to Darth Vader and Satan.

It distracts from his hiring Mike Flynn as Security Adviser – a guy who was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency for being mentally unstable, and is an Islamaphobe whose own fears will make it nearly impossible for him to rationally find the best solution to problems in the Middle East.

It distracts from his hiring Mike Pompeo as CIA Director – a guy who supports the NSA surveilling all Americans, opposes closing Guantanamo, and criticizes the Obama administration for closing CIA black sites.

Now, DON’T GET ME WRONG: Pence managed to be the least popular vice-president at a musical where the vice-president kills the hero, and that’s funny and ridiculous and horrible. I get that.

But it’s not IMPORTANT.

The Right (and wrong) Way to Resist Trump

Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.

This piece is positively prescient.

This week, Trump settled a lawsuit for $25 million, and the Trump administration is getting packed in with racists, bigots, and white nationalists.

And Twitter's talking about Pence getting booed at a fucking play, and Trump getting shitty about it.

Because of course he is: first of all he's Trump; second, tactically and strategically speaking, he wants everyone's focus on meaningless drama.

Yes, he's a crap human being, but THAT DOESN'T MATTER: pointing it out isn't enough to stop him; it might not even help.

We need to focus on the stuff that actually matters, or he's going to burn the house down while we're shaking our heads at the ugly drapes.

The Right Way to Resist Trump – NYTimes.com

Trump is So Inspiring, Week 001

This week, I was inspired to:

  • Set up a recurring donation to the NRDC
  • Set up a recurring donation to the ACLU
  • Buy a yearly subscription to the Washington Post
  • Help my niece and her girlfriend get set up Signal for text and voice calls
  • Add HTTPS Everywhere to my Firefox browser, and HTTPS Everywhere to my Chrome browser
  • Add VPN clients to my mobile devices (I was already paying for a license, which I was using only on my computers)
  • Call the state offices for three Colorado congresspeople, regarding Steve Bannon’s presence on the president-elect’s staff.
  • Almost forgot: Reran the Lastpass Security Challenge and updated my passwords and settings until I got into the top 25% of users.

This is Probably the Most Encouraging Political News in the Last Week

For the last few years, I’ve been disappointed by the idea that President Obama would, if the pattern of former presidents held, disappear from the national stage after leaving office. He’s still young (relative to the office), and a great motivator, organizer, and speaker. It seemed a terrible waste.

Also, I’ve long held the opinion that Obama has kept himself sharply in check as the President, both out of – as he says in the interview – “institutional” dictates, and his own sense of the dignity the office requires. I see why he’s done it, but it’s been frustrating (far more so for him, I imagine), especially since no one else in Washington seemed to restrain themselves in similar fashion.

Reading he intends to remain publicly active and, even better, return to more direct language about the things he cares about is, to my mind, fantastic news.

I look forward to supporting many years of his brand of activism.

Obama: once out of office, I’m gonna stop being polite and start getting real
He made the comments to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on Result of Presidential Election

Released in both English and Spanish.

This. This is how you fight during the next for years. State level, on the ground, and hard.

We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.

We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.

While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

Standing applause, right here.

Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on Result of Presidential Election
SACRAMENTO – California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released the following statement on the results of the President election: Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.

The First One Hundred Days of the Hurricane

In one of Dave Hill’s g+ threads, I said:

Just read Trump’s first hundred days road map. It’s horrifying. I went out, sat in my car, and wept. What he’s planning…
So much damage. Globally. Locally. Not decades. A century. Maybe more.

Now, I stand by this assessment, but I thought I’d tear through this thing and compare it to some other information to see what’s likely and what’s not; see if I could find any bright spots.

SPOILERS: It’s still pretty fucking horrible, but not as horrible. You might still sit in your car and weep (if you were inclined to do so in the first place), but maybe not for as long? I dunno.

Here we go:

Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.

So, two three things:

  • We have term limits – they’re called elections.
  • Congress has to pass Amendment Proposals by 2/3rds majority in both houses before it goes to a popular vote. (Or passed by a constitutional convention called by 2/3rds of the states.)
  • Noted weasel/turtle hybrid and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has flat out said the Senate won’t consider this.

Conclusion: this will get no traction, as there’s not enough support for it where there needs to be, and there are more than a few solid arguments that term limits would make corruption-via-lobbyists worse.

This is in the top-four to top-five least horrifying things on the list, but it’s still pointless campaign rhetoric. The White House will propose it, it’ll get shot down like the first level of Duck Hunt, the end.

A hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health).

Well, he’s got to squeeze his “YOU’RE FIRED!” tagline in there somewhere…

Smaller Government! More jobs (for contractors)! Maybe!

I wonder how many times Trump’s successfully used a hiring freeze in one of his companies, to good effect, but I don’t wonder about that enough to dredge through the sewage plant that is his business history.

Frankly, this isn’t the kind of thing that sticks around for long before reality brings people to their senses, but I have no doubt the Chief Executive can cut headcount. I’m sure understaffed federal offices will be HUGELY POPULAR AND MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY, so… by all means, Donald, piss people off. It’s what you’re good at.

I fully expect there will be some article in about five years that starts off “that [horrible thing that happened in 2018], and how the federally hiring freeze directly caused it and made it worse.”

Add a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.

This reads like a ‘draw from the deck’ add-on rule for Fluxx.

I fucking hate Fluxx.

This may win as the most … child-like item on the list? Standard campaign-rhetoric for small government. Ultimately meaningless and/or hamstrings government administration, because the department that needs a regulation doesn’t also have the ability to get rid of supposedly unneeded regulations in some OTHER department.

Watch government grind to a halt as no government agencies can get anything new done and spend most of their time negotiation a regulation shell-game. Fun times.

THE PROBLEM: this reads like something the chief executive can put into play via executive order, so there’s a much smaller chance that someone with some common sense can or will kill the idea.

A 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service

I’m sure there’s no downsides this at all.

In this case, I can’t tell how much support such a ‘ban’ would require; if it needs congressional buy-in, it’s a non-starter. If it’s some kind of executive order? Well, fine, but it can be removed as easily as it was enacted by the next president, if that’s the case. (See some of the stuff on discrimination-prevention, below, for unfortunate examples of same.)

A lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

These two fall under the “sure whatever, that’s probably not the most horrible thing in the world,” category, which I want to put something in because it’s depressingly small.

Again, though, I don’t know how you put a lifetime ban on this without congressional support to… you know… MAKE A LAW, so it all rolls back to whether Paul Ryan and the weasel/turtle give a damn about it, or (more accurately) if they can milk the “issue” for a bump in approval ratings back home. I doubt that’s the case, because WTF cares? There are bigger issues.

I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205

“Announce my intention.”

In other words, he promises (now) to promise (later) to talk about doing something.

I mean… you want to withdraw from NAFTA? Okay. It’s not been good for many sectors of the country. Knock yourself out, but my god this language could not get more mealy-mouthed.

I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

This one, on the other hand, is very straight forward and direct, in part because TPP isn’t in place yet and is thus a lot easier to simply back out of. People who get mad about TPP will love it — hell I’m happy about this; TPP has been a bad idea from the get-go, and is one of the few things pretty much every candidate agreed on, so by all means knock yourself out and do a positive thing; I like putting something in the (again, tiny) ‘good, or at least not bad’ box. Without the US, the TPP agreement literally cannot continue.

The problem is, the other TPP countries are still in the process of passing their implementing legislation, which contains all of the worst measures in the TPP, including the extension of the term of copyright, strict rules against DRM circumvention, and the prohibition against mandates to review source code for bugs and backdoors. The countries that continue along the path of passing their implementing legislation will end up in the worst of all possible worlds — having accepted all the US demands on copyright and other digital policies, but without receiving any trade benefits from the United States in exchange.

I’m sure Trump would call that a ‘win-win’.

I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator

Shocking development: One of his first moves upon entering office will be calling people names.

Another shocker: Every country with a functioning central bank — including the U.S. — is a currency manipulator. The duty of a central bank is to manage/manipulate the value of its nation’s currency by expanding or contracting the money supply, as appropriate for national policy. China would be negligent in its government of the country if it did not do this.

But hey, let’s point a quivering finger at China, the Republican’s (current) favorite foreign scapegoat.

Someone with more foreign policy background will have to jump in with reasons why this label means anything, or what it’s supposed to accomplish, besides souring US/Chinese relations (which may in fact BE the whole point, I don’t know).

I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.

Okay? Sounds like basic Republican and/or conservative Dem rhetoric. At face value, doesn’t seem like a horrible idea, and I’m sure it netted him a couple million votes from the Louisiana Purchase region of the country. Hooray for something in the “not horrible” box.

I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

Annnnd fuck. Here’s where things start going down a hill and right at a cliff.

If this restriction was originally an Obama-era end-around executive order (he did tons of these, since he couldn’t get a law passed after 2010), then this is going to happen, and quickly, because those sorts of things go as easily as they come – all the chief executive has to do is send a fucking memo.

On the other hand, if these are federal regulations, this isn’t fucking UP to him, and a battle commences, and popular/political resistance can accomplish something.

I can’t sort out at this time where this sort of thing falls on the scale between “Needs congress”/”Needs disparate federal agency support”/”Executive Order Fuck You Do It.” Anyone?

Also: clean coal, as a phrase, makes me crazy.

Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward.

The wording of this one seems to imply that all that needs to happen is a Executive Order reversal, but that doesn’t really pass the sniff test. Keystone passes through some blue states with Dem senators, and almost all states are more purple than anything else anyway, and win or lose, #DAPL has demonstrated that pipelines don’t just happen while the locals stand idly by.

Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.

First thing: I want to call out that the guy specifically mentions ‘fixing America’s water infrastructure’ RIGHT THERE. Two points back: he’s talking about increasing shale and natural gas (fracking).


Seriously, what is wrong with this guy? The only scientific theory with stronger universal agreement than Climate Change is GRAVITY. This isn’t an intelligence test anyone on the planet should fail and, in fact, 64 percent of Americans are worried about global warming.

This is something we can and in fact MUST fight for at every level of our lives and government. We need to be doing everything we can to fight climate change or, quite literally, nothing else we do is going to matter. At all.

Trump’s EPA transition team will be led by Myron Ebell, who claims that accession to the Paris Climate Accord is unconstitutional, that global warming is “modest” and “nothing to worry about” and “a warming trend would be good for other people” because “more people die from blizzards and cold spells than from heat waves.”

This, if I’m being honest, is the absolute low point of this horrorshow of a 100-day plan.

Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama

All of them, in other words… UNLESS I find out I like them once they benefit me. (Thomas Jefferson would understand that escape clause quite well.)

One of the big one’s here was the mandate that you couldn’t discriminate in your hiring practices and still work with federal agencies. That will be gone, which means federal contractors can, if they so choose, go back to being bigoted assholes with shiny halos, and everything’s hunky-dory.

But… you know, gay marriage has overwhelming national support, so good luck to those folks basking in the glow of some Pence-powered “protection of religion expression” act – being an asshole is your right; losing business… that’s your consequence. Good luck.

Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I haven’t looked at his list of 20, but say hello to another 2 or 3 fucking decades of an oppressively conservative Supreme Court, unless Ginsberg can hold out another 4 and a half years.

Now obviously, the follow-on effect here is the devastating part – there’s the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade, gay marriage, further reduction in gun control… all sorts of stuff.

But first, the cases have to come to the court, and here’s a couple rays of sunshine:

The Supreme Court can’t do anything if no one brings the case, and with every passing year day, these issues will become something no one would bother with.

Unfortunately, none of that really helps things like transgender rights. At best, the Supreme Court will go the strongly conservative route of “Let the States Decide”, and we’re back to picking our vacation spots based on which states aren’t bigoted jackasses, and working on this at a local level.

Luckily, there are a lot of monied groups out there willing to push for equal rights, and that helps.

Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities.

I had to look this up, because I hadn’t heard the term before. A “sanctuary city” is a name given (by whom, I wonder?) to a city in the United States (or Canada) that adopts local policies designed to not prosecute people solely for being an undocumented individual in the country in which they are currently living.

The designation has no legal meaning, and there’s no federal funding specifically targeted at these cities in support of this practice, so what this really says is:

“Take away all federal funding, across the board, for everything, from any city who does this thing.”

Currently, noted Sanctuary cities in the U.S. include:

  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Phoenix
  • San Diego
  • Salt Lake City
  • Denver
  • Dallas
  • Austin
  • Houston
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis
  • Chicago
  • Detroit
  • New York City
  • Baltimore
  • Washington D.C. (yes, really)

Denver is a sanctuary city, and that makes me proud.

So… let’s see… back of the napkin math, and not counting suburbs, that’s 25 million people just in the strict metropolitan area. Denver’s listed at 600 thousand, but the greater metropolitan Denver area is 2,800,000 or so, which is obviously far more. If I stick to that same ratio (4.5:1) we’re actually talking about over 110 million people in these areas, if you count the suburbs. 20 of the largest cities in the country.

So that’s one third of the entire U.S. population he’s talking about.

And – get this – the strong majority of Americans agree that immigration helps the country more than it hurts, by a 59 percent to 33 percent margin.

Yeah, go ahead and deny any and all Federal funding to these cities, because they’re being welcoming humanitarians, Donald. That’ll go over like gangbusters. No possible backlash there.

Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back

Someone hand me some popcorn. I want to watch them fund this kind of effort.

Actually, being more cynical: watch it come from the school budgets, because it’s not coming from military spending.

Or it will BE military spending, and we’ll have tanks and national guard in the streets of those same big cities. Fantastic.

Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Other people have examined the term “extreme vetting” at some length. In short, this idea is against the very idea of our country, and HEY GUESS WHAT this particular campaign promise has already magically vanished from the campaign website.

Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy.

Short term benefit for long term desert hellscape thanks to lack of industry regulation. Awesome. “Regulatory relief” translates to “let industry do WTF-ever”, as does “lifting restrictions on American energy”, surprising precisely no one.

I’ll note that the chief executive need Congress for this, so this is something where the most objectionable bits can be fought/delayed/whatever.

The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.

Sounds awesome in theory. How’s that deficit going to look?

Eh. We’ll make Mexico cover it.

End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

… you know…

Does anyone else think this whole list reads a little… contradictory, when it comes to business?

Or not, maybe. The overarching message seems to be: “Bring your business back to the country, or you will suffer untold pain, buuuuuuut you’re going to be able to do pretty much whatever you want once you’re operating back in the borders, and to hell with the long-term consequences.


American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

We’re going to get contractors to responsibly and effectively fix our infrastructure and take over government-handled services, in exchange for yuuuuuge tax breaks.

That has worked SO WELL in the past.

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

“Brings education supervision to the local communities.”


Preach Teach that young earth theory, Texas. You do you.”

I’m sure, given “Whites Without a College Education” is his strongest demographic, Trump will be all over making college more accessible, so as to eliminate his base. Trump College. Yes. He’ll get right on that.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts.

Get rid of the ACA and replace it with “divert some of each paycheck into a savings account you can only access when you’re sick”, because that’s something low-income families would totally do if only they’d known.

You know what? a majority of Americans support some kind of universal health care, 58 percent to 37 percent. Pretty sure it needs to be a bit more robust than telling people ‘save money for a rainy day’ to make them happy.

Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

This one, I don’t hate. Some of it sounds like stuff you can already do (claim childcare on taxes, for example).

That said, what low-income families can divert funs to Savings Accounts, contribution matching or no?

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall.

In all seriousness, how the hell can we force another country to pay for our bullshit? I mean, how is that even a thing?

Testudines/Heterocephalus Chimera and noted snort-stiffling-Trump-critic Mitch McConnell has said this “is not a top priority,” so getting Congress on board with this nonsense is, thankfully, unlikely.

Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.

The only bright spot in there is ‘train and assist local police’, though I think it’s probably foolish optimism to expect that training to include ‘stop shooting black people for no goddamn good reason.’

Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values.

Whose values? Who is “our?” Which values, specifically?

Also, I doubt the largest military on the planet by several orders of magnitude is wasting away under the defense sequester, but hey: military spending. Always and forever, amen.

Only bright spot, more verbiage about veteran care.

Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

Typical campaign rhetoric. How is that “Big Change in Washington” going?

Well, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, obvious-anagram Reince Priebus and a Goldman Sachs executive are all in line for top administration positions.

Where’s that leave us?

Well, it’s not good.

But it’s not horrible

It’s horrible.

But it can be fought.

Executive orders, by their nature, are transitory things. Stuff that requires buy-in from outside the oval office are going to be harder sells. There’s some stuff that will go forward with ease, because it’s the sort of Classic GOP bullshit that would have gone forward regardless of which Republican gained office.

The truly Trump-esque stuff does not seem to have strong Congressional support, and/or can be fought (or fought off) at the state and local level.


Fight. At the state and local level. Be the change you want to see. Stand In Defense.

For myself, I’m supporting the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in addition to some of minority rights groups I’ve linked in the last few days.

Also, depending on how much Pence is present with his BS, I’ll be throwing in with Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State (thanks to Les Jenkins for that one).

I'm not going to say who I'm voting for

I will say what I am voting for.

I'm voting for women.

I'm voting for my kids.

I'm voting for improved rights and equality for LGBTQ Americans, and Hispanic Americans, and Black Americans, and Muslim Americans.

I'm voting to protect the environment, and combat climate change; I'm voting for the future my kids are going to have to live in.

I'm voting against hate, against fear.

I'm voting for respect, and respectful discourse.

I'm voting for fewer walls and better, affordable education.

Most importantly, I'm voting.

I hope you do too.