Puerto Rico

What They Voted For: Swampstyle

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Ital Vardi brings this wonderful bit of news for the Huffington Post:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a shareholder in a private Montana company that manufactures and sells firearms and advanced weapons materials, a financial interest he did not disclose when nominated last year.

In response to inquiries from HuffPost, both Zinke and the company, PROOF Research Inc., confirmed the secretary’s holdings, though the dollar value placed on them varied. This previously undisclosed holding comes to light after numerous decisions in his first year in office that benefited the hunting and gun industries.

PROOF Research Inc. was first established in 2011 in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, under the name Extreme Precision Armaments Inc., according to state of Montana business records. The company specializes in the production of lightweight rifles with high-precision carbon fiber barrels for hunting and military applications and was born as a merger of four smaller firearms and gun parts companies. It later changed its name to PROOF Research Inc. and moved to the nearby town of Columbia Falls.

According to the company’s website, its facility in Columbia Falls produces “the world’s finest composite barrels, stocks, and complete rifles.” A second facility in Dayton, Ohio, makes specialized high-temperature composite materials for the aerospace and defense industries, including components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-2 stealth bomber.

Obvious questions present themselves, but there is also something inherently clownish about the brazen stupidity of the omission, and given everything else, Steve Benen’s point last week, that the “Interior Secretary can’t seem to stay out of trouble”, resonates anew. There is also some impulse to raise an eyebrow at the seeming strangeness of a small firearms firm with such specialized defense-industry pedigree.

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Required Reading (Justice and Dissent)

[#kneelbeforeJustice]Colin Kaepernick (r.) and Eric Reed kneel during the national anthem before a 2016 NFL game. (Photo: Associated Press)

“Donald Trump took time out from comparing missiles with Kim Jong Un and ignoring Puerto Rico to declare that the athlete who takes a knee is a ‘son of a b***h’ who should be fired for disrespecting America. He was harder on the athletes than on the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.”

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This is not one of those things where I get to say something like, “What he said!” or, “Plus one!” More directly, we can rest assured my part has something to do with paying the fuck attention.

Dear black people:

I guess we’ve messed up again. Seems like we’re never going to learn how to properly protest, no matter how hard conservatives try to teach us.

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A Strange Moment in History

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, 15 March 2016. (Detail of photo by Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)

This couldn’t have waited until tomorrow?

Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination.

(Yen, et al.)

It seems for the moment this development has any number of people puzzled. On msnbc, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Andrea Mitchell all offered double-takes over the timing. While it is certainly possible to understand a certain notion, that these superdelegates decided to start wrapping up the Democratic Show in favor of turning to the Big Show, the idea that professional political hands couldn’t see the problem with the timing is problematic. Then again, maybe they didn’t coordinate. We might note this isn’t like when South Dakota upped its prestige a notch when its superdelegates decided to clinch the nomination for Donald Trump. Right now, as far as we can tell, of the ninety-five Democratic superdelegates who had yet to commit publicly during repeated inquiries over the last seven months, some did this time around, and AP just happens to be able to turn its eye to history, scooping the candidate herself.

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News from the Colonies

So … almost … there.

The news from the colonies:

The Puerto Rican government on Friday announced it will no longer defend the U.S. commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban.

The Washington Blade“Because of sexual orientation, Puerto Rico has denied rights that others enjoy,” said Justice Minister César Miranda during a press conference in San Juan. “This is not correct.”

The announcement coincides with a brief Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which is hearing a lawsuit against the island’s same-sex marriage ban.

“To the extent that commonwealth law does not afford homosexual couples the same rights and entitlements that heterosexual couples enjoy, the commonwealth recognizes that equal protection and substantive due process guarantees mandate application of heightened scrutiny in this case,” reads the brief. “Under said heightened standard, the commonwealth cannot responsibly advance before this court any interest sufficiently important or compelling to justify the differentiated treatment afforded so far to plaintiffs.”

(Lavers)

Three brief notes:

• Many thanks to Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, whose outlook has apparently evolved greatly over the last year.

• We … are … winning.

• This is not over, yet.

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Lavers, Michael K. “Puerto Rican government to no longer defend marriage ban”. The Washington Blade. 20 March 2015.

Going Out In Style

Corpse on a MotorcycleIt is often said that funerals are for the living, so I’m not sure what to make of a story out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Morticians at the Marin Funeral Home paid homage to David Morales Colón, a twenty-two year old shooting victim, by arranging his body for display at the wake on his motorcycle.

No, really. If you don’t believe me, the story is up at Jalopnik, which pulled its coverage from the Guaynabo tabloid, Primera Hora.

Corpse on a Motorcycle, AgainBut no, I’m not sure what to think. I mean, part of me despises grandiose funerary rites as misguided therapeutic rituals for the survivors. But then, there’s also a part of me that wants to follow Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry, to be shot into space and allowed to decay from orbit. (See Ray Bradbury’s “Kaleidoscope”.) Given the extravagance, though, I think it would be much more fun for the living to shoot my remains out of a cannon. You know, just for the hell of it. Leave ’em laughing, that sort of thing.

So, yes, that part of me looks at the late Señor Colón on his motorcycle and thinks, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Ride on, zombie.”