August 26, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 5:17 PM


Wolfowitz, a neo-con and strong supporter of Iraq war, says he'll vote for Clinton (Deutsche-Welle, 8/26/16)

Paul Wolfowitz, a neo-conservative who as a senior advisor to then-US President George W. Bush was a vociferous advocate for the preemptive war against Iraq in 2003, says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses a security risk to the country and that he will vote for the Democratic candidate, Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Wolfowitz told Der Spiegel magazine that he has "serious reservations" about Clinton, but that he could not vote for Trump.

"It's important to make it clear how unacceptable he is," Wolfowitz told the magazine.

Posted by orrinj at 2:55 PM


Berkeley's Soda Tax Is Working And That Could Be A Game Changer (Nancy Fink Huehnergarth, 8/26/16, Forbes)

A study published on Tuesday found that Berkeley, California's penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks had reduced consumption by 21% in low-income neighborhoods - precisely where health officials hoped to see the largest decrease.

"Low-income communities bear the brunt of the health consequences of obesity and diabetes, so this decline in soda and sugary beverage consumption is very encouraging," said study senior author Kristine Madsen, an associate professor of public health at UC Berkeley, in a statement. "We are looking for tools that support people in making healthy choices, and the soda tax appears to be an effective tool."

Posted by orrinj at 11:08 AM


Why Are We Still Wasting Billions on Homeland Security Projects That Don't Make Us Any Safer? (Stephen Engelberg, 8/26/16, Pacific Standard)

In his September cover story for The Atlantic, Steven Brill recounts how the political lessons of those early years evolved into an approach he succinctly summarizes as "never again." Politicians and government bureaucrats understood that the public would not forgive a second, devastating strike. For the administrations of both President Bush and President Barack Obama, "never again" has meant saying yes to any initiative that could be sold as plausible protection against a future attack. The "never again" approach has remained in place even as those who commit acts of terrorism have shifted in recent years to take advantage of the lethal possibilities of the ever-more connected world.

Certainly, some of the government programs created to address vulnerabilities exposed by the 9/11 attacks were long overdue. The U.S. needed a much better system for screening air travelers, one that did not allow people to board airplanes with lethal weapons in hand. And it made sense to harden New York's underwater subway tunnels to limit the damage a bomb could do to both passengers and the city's infrastructure.

But for every valid effort, it seems like the terrorism-industrial complex came up with an array of boondoggles that were profitable for the companies involved but added little to the security of ordinary Americans. The upwards of $47 billion spent on FirstNet, the troubled effort to make sure firefighters and police could talk to each other in an emergency, staggers the imagination. Altogether, Brill calculates, the government has spent $100 to $150 billion on equipment and programs that do not work. What might have been accomplished if all of that money had been spent on, say, reducing the cost of a college education for poor and middle-class kids?

"Never again" might have made some sense when the enemy America faced, al-Qaeda, put all of its effort into planning terrorism spectaculars like the simultaneous attack on two American embassies or the destruction of the Twin Towers. The international logistics and footprint required for such operations gave intelligence and law-enforcement officials something to detect.

Posted by orrinj at 11:01 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:54 AM


Texas elector threatens not to vote Trump : Another Republican member of the Electoral College wavers in his commitment to back the GOP nominee. (KYLE CHENEY 08/25/16, Politico)

Chris Suprun is a member of the Electoral College from Texas, a state the GOP can reliably count on to deliver votes every four years to the Republican presidential nominee.

But this year, with Donald Trump sitting atop the ticket, Suprun is warning he might not cast his electoral vote for the GOP standard-bearer. Indeed, he won't rule out throwing his vote to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if Trump doesn't moderate his demeanor.

"I'm not a professional politician. I've got no training on this one," said Suprun. "The nominee is ... saying things that in an otherwise typical election year would have you disqualified."

Posted by orrinj at 10:50 AM


More Americans Can Afford Medications Under Obamacare: Study (Robert Preidt, 8/26/16, HealthDay Reporter)

At the recession's height in 2009, over 25 million Americans said they had not filled a prescription in the previous year because they couldn't afford it, the analysis of federal government data showed. That was nearly one in 10 Americans.

Between 1999 and 2009, every age group except seniors found prescription drugs increasingly difficult to afford. Among seniors, the problem was worst in 2004, when 5.4 percent were unable to afford their medicine. In 2006, once the new Medicare Part D program was in place, that number fell to 3.6 percent, the study found.

The Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Most groups now have greater ability to afford prescription drugs, the researchers said. For example, the percentage of 19- to 25-year-olds who couldn't afford to fill a prescription fell from nearly 11 percent in 2010 to just over 8 percent in 2011, as the Affordable Care Act let young adults remain on their parents' health insurance.

Posted by orrinj at 10:43 AM


Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon is registered voter at vacant Florida home (Jon Swaine and Lauren Gambino in New York and Richard Luscombe in Miami, 26 August 2016, The Guardian)

Donald Trump's new presidential campaign chief is registered to vote in a key swing state at an empty house where he does not live, in an apparent breach of election laws.

Stephen Bannon, the chief executive of Trump's election campaign, has an active voter registration at the house in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which is vacant and due to be demolished to make way for a new development.

"I have emptied the property," Luis Guevara, the owner of the house, which is in the Coconut Grove section of the city, said in an interview. "Nobody lives there ... we are going to make a construction there." Neighbors said the property had been abandoned for several months.

Bannon, 62, formerly rented the house for use by his ex-wife, Diane Clohesy, but did not live there himself. Clohesy, a Tea Party activist, moved out of the house earlier this year and has her own irregular voting registration arrangement. According to public records, Bannon and Clohesy divorced seven years ago.

On the other hand, it's not a swing state thanks to his boss, so his illegal vote doesn't matter.

Posted by orrinj at 10:38 AM


MLK's Niece: 'Black Lives Matter In The Womb ... But They Don't Want' To Say That (Michael W. Chapman, August 24, 2016, CNS)

Alveda King, 65, is a Christian minister, author, and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. She regularly speaks on pro-life issues.

During a recent interview on The Jim Bakker Show, co-host Lori Bakker asked, "If black lives matter, then why is it that black women are more than 5 times as likely as a white woman to have an abortion?"

Alveda King said, "Planned Parenthood hates it when this is explained. About 60 to 70% of all Planned Parenthoods are in minority neighborhoods. Abortion is billed and marketed - abortion mills or clinics are in predominantly black communities and we have proven this. Just traveling around the country and they'd say, 'oh, here's an abortion mill,' and it would be on or near a street named after Martin Luther King Jr. I began to see that beginning and then there were various organizations, and so we did the research and Life Research Institute really did confirm that."

"So then you get there [the abortion clinic], and they say, 'We really want to help you. We want abortion to be safe, legal and rare. But if you get pregnant, we're going to do this. We want you to be a credit to your race,'" explained King. "And it's [abortion] not rare. The recourse to this before '73 was the Negro Project. And the Negro Project was marketed primarily to the black community giving free and low-cost vasectomies and tubal ligations."

"When abortion became legal, then it was offered on a disproportionate rate to the black community, and sold as reproductive health care, reproductive freedom - this is your right," said Alveda King. "But Black Lives Matter in the womb, I would think. I think the womb that brings forth the black life should matter. But they don't want that out there. That's the thing. And so because black lives absolutely matter, what about the babies in that womb? What about that mama?"

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at 7:45 AM


Rudy Van Gelder, Audio Engineer Who Helped Define Sound of Jazz on Record, Dies at 91 (Peter Keepnews, 8/25/2016, NY Times)

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio engineer whose work with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and numerous other musicians helped define the sound of jazz on record, died on Thursday at his home, which doubled as his studio, in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his assistant, Maureen Sickler.

Mr. Van Gelder, as he took pains to explain to interviewers, was an engineer and not a producer. He was not in charge of the sessions he recorded; he did not hire the musicians or play any role in choosing the repertoire. But he had the final say in what the records sounded like, and he was, in the view of countless producers, musicians and listeners, better at that than anyone.

The many albums he engineered for Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse and other labels in the 1950s and '60s included acknowledged classics like Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," Davis's "Walkin'," Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage," Sonny Rollins's "Saxophone Colossus" and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father."

I don't know anything about the technical aspects of recording sound, but I know the sound of a Rudy Van Gelder recording.  The unique timbre of each instrument is captured distinctly and cleanly, and yet they all blend together with a beautiful warmth.  Also, there is no doubt about the spatial relationship of the I write this, I'm listening to "Lester Left Town" from The Big Beat (for all of the great artists he recorded over the years, when I think of Van Gelder, I first think of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers).  I can picture the band right in front of me: Lee Morgan (on the left) and Wayne Shorter (to Lee's right) front the band, with Bobby Timmons and his piano on the far left, Jymie Merritt on bass behind the horns and Blakey to the back right.  (Sure, I know that that's a pretty standard set-up for a jazz quintet, but when RVG is at the sound board, you really hear it in the recording.  The relative space between the players "feels" right and it seems like you're sitting right in front of the band in the studio.)  Finally, the dynamics are captured with extraordinary sensitivity.  You can hear it right from the start in "Lester Left Town": the barely audible woodpecker-like rim shots that Blakey lays down after the first phrase from the horns become a little louder after that phrase is repeated, and then as the tune moves on, Blakey bashes the cymbals at a little higher volume, and he then turns around first 16-bars into the second 16 with a short press roll that in just a beat or two crescendos and crashes like a wave onto shore.   It all sounds so unprocessed that one might be fooled into concluding that there's not much skill involved in placing place a few mikes in a room of great musicians and hitting the "record" button.  But comparing Van Gelder's work to that of pretty much every other engineer who ever made a jazz record proves that isn't the case.  And that may be his real genius -- in creating recordings that were so faithful to the sound of the musicians and so clearly devoid of any mixing, compression, distortion or other engineer-imposed effects, he paradoxically created a "sound" for which he became famous.

The last few ATJ's have been bittersweet celebrations due to the deaths in quick succession of Bobby Hutcherson, Toots Thielemans and Rudy Van Gelder, but I hope to have some happier posts coming up, including the celebration of Sonny Rollins 86th (!) birthday in a couple of weeks, my long-gestating review of an Aaron Diehl album that was released last year and some recordings of music from my favorite jazzy-but-not-jazz musical "Guys and Dolls."

August 25, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 7:01 PM


In major speech, Hillary Clinton attacks Donald Trump as lifelong racist (DANIEL DALE, Aug. 25, 2016, The Star)

Quote by quote, tweet by tweet, Hillary Clinton made an argument Thursday with no precedent in America's modern campaign history: that her opponent is not just dangerous and foolish but an unrepentant lifelong racist.

In a calm but blistering Nevada speech aimed in large part at moderate Republicans, Clinton systematically outlined Donald Trump's alleged housing discrimination as a 1970s landlord, his offensive remarks about minority groups, and his embrace of conspiracy theorists, nationalist foreign leaders and the bigots of the online "alt-right."

"Of course, there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment. But it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it and giving it a national megaphone. Until now," Clinton said.

Clinton offered specific examples. At one point, she described Trump's retweet of a Twitter user who goes by the name "WhiteGenocide™." At another, to gasps from the crowd at a Reno college, she read out four incendiary headlines from Breitbart News, the far-right website run by his new campaign chief.

"From the start," she said, "Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of America's two major political parties."

The speech represented a deepening of Clinton's strategy of separating Trump from the rest of his party. She favourably cited the way three previous Republican nominees, George W. Bush, Bob Dole and John McCain, handled racial matters.

The election really is this simple : are you with or against the candidate of racism?



"Race is at the foundation of everything to the alt-righters," says Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the alt-right movement as a hate group. "They have this idea that white people and white civilization is under assault by the forces of political correctness, by social justice and so on."

The term "alt-right" is merely a rebranding of an ideology with deep, dark historic roots, says Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and author of the book Cyber Racism. In fact, you could say it's a "dog whistle" for white supremacy. "People who are in the United States, mostly white people, are uncomfortable saying white supremacy," Daniels says. "They're more comfortable saying alt-right"

And social media has been an important vehicle for that rebranding, she says, because it's a place where, for better or worse, all ideas can have equal weight, regardless of where they originate. "It creates an equivalence of ideas, the undermining of expertise," Daniels says. "That's part of what has given them more power. No one's an expert or everyone's an expert. White supremacists saw that and got that early on and use that to their advantage."

Posted by orrinj at 4:43 PM


A Majority of Republicans Are Cool With 'Amnesty' (Eric Levitz, 8/25/16, New York)

Only 18 percent of Americans believe that undocumented immigrants "are not as honest and hardworking as U.S. citizens." Among Trump's strongest supporters, that figure is 34 percent -- six points higher than among Republican voters, as a whole. Even more starkly, while just 27 percent of all voters think the undocumented are more likely to commit "serious crimes" than are other Americans, 59 percent of Trump's base says the opposite. That puts Trumpists out of step for the majority of their own Party, as 52 percent of Republicans say the undocumented are no more criminal than the rest of us sinners.

Posted by orrinj at 4:31 PM


Demystifying the Islamic State (Andrew Liepman and Colin P. Clarke, August 2016, Rand)

Of the three concentric circles that comprise the Islamic State group, the war is going better than expected against the two innermost circles--the first is the caliphate itself, the core of the Islamic State's organization. In the next outermost circle, the outlying areas of Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, things are going reasonably well, as Islamic State affiliates in those countries are being slowly but steadily attenuated. Perhaps the most concerning is that last concentric circle, the amorphous and disconnected outer ring of lone wolves and small groups of jihadists inspired by Islamic State propaganda and ideology.

To counter the threat the Islamic State group poses to the Middle East and the West more broadly, it is crucial to understand what the terrorist organization is and what it is not, where it is truly dangerous and where its power and reach have limits. Attributing all jihadist violence to a ruthless gang headquartered in Raqqa, brilliantly planning attacks and managing their caliphate while pulling the strings near and far, exaggerates the power of the Islamic State group and plays into their propaganda and recruiting efforts.

First, the Islamic State is the caliphate, a defined territory stretching across parts of Iraq and Syria with its capital in Raqqa. The caliphate is more than just territory, however, as it remains a major attraction for foreign fighters traveling to the region to join the organization and differentiates the Islamic State group from its chief ideological competitor, al-Qaida. The caliphate is both the Islamic State group's greatest strength--it is what drew tens of thousands of volunteers--and its greatest vulnerability, as the dramatic battlefield defeats of late clearly show.

Second, the Islamic State group is a collection of provinces, affiliates, franchise groups or wilayats, not all of which are created equal. The Islamic State has claimed relationships with satellite groups in Libya, the Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan, and has garnered bayat, or allegiance, from organizations or splinter groups of these organizations previously independent or formerly aligned with al-Qaida, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia and others throughout the Muslim world. This haphazard collective of ne'er-do-wells should not be seen as more than it is. Some groups are, indeed, dangerous and enduring, but most--like the caliphate itself--are likely not.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Islamic State is an ideology. What it represents is the embodiment of Salafi jihadism and all of its undercurrents--anti-American, anti-Jewish and, of course, anti-Shia. This ideology motivates individuals and groups around the world to conduct attacks in the Islamic State's name, as happened in San Bernardino, Orlando and elsewhere. This third manifestation of the Islamic State group is the most insidious, unpredictable and difficult to eliminate.

Now, for what the Islamic State is not: It is not an existential threat on the order of the challenge the United States faced during the Cold War. It is not a nuclear-armed nation-state like the Soviet Union, nor is it a near-peer adversary, trained and equipped for conventional military operations like China, Iran or North Korea.

It's hardly fair to blame the UR for how easily he won his phase of the WoT.

Think the world is on fire? Obama's national security adviser says things are better than ever. (Zack Beauchamp, August 18, 2016, Vox)

The basic starting point, according to Rice, is that the world is better than it ever has been -- and it's getting better still:

We are in an era where, as the president has often said, if you didn't know who you were going to be, or whether you were going to be male or female; white, black, Asian, Native American, Latino, [or] something else; if you didn't know if you were going to be straight or gay -- if you didn't know anything about who you were going to be and you had to pick a time in which to be born...

You would pick this time. Because the odds of success for any individual are much higher in the aggregate than they've ever been.

Rice's support for this theory was a series of rattled-off metrics.

"More people are free of poverty than ever before, conflict between states is less than ever before, technology is providing extraordinary opportunities for advancement, and health and agriculture and well-being," Rice says. "Compare the era we're living in today to the losses we suffered in World War II or even in the Vietnam War, or compare the economic challenges we face now to the Great Depression."

Rice is right on the evidence. The number of people living at $1.25 per day or less declined by roughly 1.1 billion people between 1990 and 2015. The number of war deaths per 100,000 people worldwide has increased in the past three years, owing largely to the war in Syria, but is still far lower than it was even 20 years ago. Average global life expectancy worldwide was 48 in 1950; it was 71.4 in 2015.

Obama and his advisers see these improvements as the product of a network of global institutions and dominant ideas -- things like the global free trade regime, the United Nations, America's alliance networks in Europe and East Asia, and the like. They believe this basic international order has worked to make the world a much better place than it's ever been.

Because Team Obama sees the world's basic institutions through this very positive lens, they're focused on protecting them. The most important foreign policy task, for Team Obama, is to make sure the world keeps getting better.

That means, first and foremost, protecting the current system from things that threaten it.

"We can renew the international system that has enabled so much progress, or we can allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability," Obama said in a 2014 address to the United Nations. "We can shape the course of this century, as our predecessors shaped the post-World War II age."

Think about the Obama administration's stated priorities over the years: the pivot to Asia, the push for global climate change agreements, the nuclear negotiations with Iran. Each was designed to address something that could at least theoretically threaten important parts of the system: a conflict-ridden relationship with China, catastrophic climate change, a nuclear Iran.

In those cases, the Obama administration was willing to take risks and spearhead ambitious new policy initiatives, because the tail risk of inaction was extremely high.

The administration is less willing to act, by contrast, when it comes to immediate crises -- significant problems that nonetheless don't pose systemic threats. The Obama administration has been very wary of getting pulled into a major involvement in Syria, for example, or a large-scale troop deployment to fight ISIS.

Posted by orrinj at 4:25 PM


Denouncing Trump's bigotry, Hillary Clinton flatters mainstream Republicans in order to demoralize them (Matthew Yglesias, August 25, 2016, Vox)

In a speech today on the subject of Donald Trump's ties to the "alt right," Hillary Clinton painted the GOP nominee as a dangerous racist with a history of discriminatory conduct and hateful rhetoric that dates back to before the beginning of his presidential campaign.

She also went out of her way to deny that this aspect of Trump and Trumpism has anything to do with the Republican Party mainstream.  [...]

Politically speaking, the key passage of Clinton's speech was one where she made an unusual move for a candidate and offered fulsome praise to the opposition political party. Rather than noting the ways in which Trumpism has ties to the GOP past, she highlighted elements of the Republican Party history that push in the opposite direction:

This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump. It's a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.

Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the party to get out.

The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims "love America just as much as I do."

In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Sen. McCain made sure they knew -- Barack Obama is an American citizen and "a decent person."

Clinton is flattering Republicans about their past to shame them about their present.

To reach the kind of electoral targets Clinton is currently aiming for in places like Arizona and Georgia -- or to help her party's House members who need to win in districts that are 4 or 5 points more Republican than the nation as a whole -- Clinton needs to win in places that are full of lifelong Republicans.

Posted by orrinj at 4:19 PM


Surprise! Fake Babies Actually Make Kids Think Teenage Motherhood is Awesome : A new study found that infant simulators increase teenage girls' odds of getting pregnant. (BECCA ANDREWS, AUG. 25, 2016, Mother Jones)

It's a common scare tactic in school systems that have the money to pull it off: Give teenage girls dolls that cry incessantly, need to be changed often, and basically acts like any newborn would. Make them take care of it for a grade. The exercise will, in theory, deter girls from pregnancy by having them deal with the consequences in advance, and it can earn them an easy A.

But in a new study, Australian researchers found that the exercise is doing more harm than good--when they compared girls in Australia who participated in the program to girls who did not, eight percent of the girls who carried the doll gave birth at least once while they were still in high school, compared with four percent of girls in the control group who never worked with the doll.

Posted by orrinj at 4:06 PM


Scotland Is The Latest Country To Run For A Day On Renewables Alone (CHARLIE SORREL 08.23.16, Co.exist)

As the world enjoys month after month of the hottest weather ever recorded, more and more countries (like Portugal and Costa Rica) are proving that renewables can provide enough electricity to exceed their entire power needs. Scotland is the latest to join the club: Its wind turbines recently supplied its entire energy needs for one day.

On Sunday, August 14, Scotland's wind turbines pumped 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity into the grid, while the country's entire consumption was 37,202 MWh. That includes homes, factories, businesses, everything.

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 PM


AI Is Here to Help You Write Emails People Will Actually Read (Klint Finley, 8/23/16, Wired)

Respondable analyzes your messages as you write them, predicts how likely they are to get a response, and then suggests ways you can improve them. If your subject line it too terse, for instance, or the email's tone seems rude, it will tell you. In theory, this will make life easier for people on both ends on the exchange: The recipient the email will get clearer, more actionable emails, and the sender should be more likely to get a prompt response. The project is in its early days but it does give us a glimpse of how AI might work in concert with humans, not to take our jobs but to make our jobs a bit easier.

Posted by orrinj at 3:55 PM


Autism-Linked Genes Often Differ Between Siblings (Amy Norton, Aug. 25, 2016, HealthDay News) 

In families that have more than one child with autism, the gene variations underlying each child's disorder often differ, new research shows.

Posted by orrinj at 1:20 PM


The University of Chicago Doesn't Support 'Trigger Warnings' Or 'Safe Spaces' (Rachel Dicker, Aug. 25, 2016, US News)

"You will find [at Chicago] that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement," Dean of Students Jay Ellison wrote. "At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort."

"Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own," Ellison continued.

Posted by orrinj at 1:14 PM


In Praise of the Private Email Server : If you aren't secretary of state, it's actually a really smart idea. (Nat Meysenburg, 8/25/16, Slate)

For years, I've been trying to convince people that there is value in having an email server in your closet. But few seemed to really get it, so I often found myself wishing for a high-profile example to illustrate why it is a good idea. That wish has, in a way, come true: The casual news consumer has had the pleasure of hearing about a "private email server" quite a lot over the past year.

Let's begin with a disclaimer. It was a bad idea for Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, to use a private email server for official State Department business--full stop. When you hold that, or any other, government position, you should assume that all of your emails will be part of the public record. This is a good thing. If you are a member of the Cabinet, the world will eventually have its chance to pick through your inbox, be it by Freedom of Information requests, congressional inquiry, leaking, hacking, or simply declassification after 50 years. This is a good thing. Best to just leave all business on the company mail server, and talk about your daughter's wedding elsewhere.

Having stipulated that, let's do something unheard of in an election year while talking about a nominee and leave the politics aside for minute. Let's not talk about Hillary Clinton the politician. Let's instead talk about Hillary Clinton as the example of a citizen exercising legal rights afforded to her by the Constitution, and how those rights were secured through self-hosting. More importantly, let's use the Clinton email saga as an example of how you, an average private citizen, could secure those very same rights through the simple act of putting a server in your home.

August 24, 2016

Posted by orrinj at 8:09 PM


Bernie Sanders's New Political Group Is Met by Staff Revolt (ALAN RAPPEPORT and YAMICHE ALCINDOR, AUG. 24, 2016, NY Times)

A principal concern among backers of Mr. Sanders, whose condemnation of the campaign finance system was a pillar of his presidential bid, is that the group can draw from the same pool of "dark money" that Mr. Sanders condemned for lacking transparency.

The announcement of the group, which was to be live streamed on Wednesday night, also came as the majority of its staff resigned after the appointment last Monday of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders's former campaign manager, to lead the organization.

Several people familiar with the organization said eight core staff members have stepped down. The group's entire organizing department quit this week, along with people working in digital and data positions.

After the resignations, Mr. Sanders spoke to some who had quit and asked them to reconsider, but the staff members refused. [...]

At the heart of the issue, according to several people who left, was deep distrust of and frustration with Mr. Weaver, whom they accused of wasting money on television advertising during Mr. Sanders's campaign; mismanaging campaign funds by failing to hire staff or effectively target voters; and creating a hostile work environment by threatening to criticize staff members if they quit.

Claire Sandberg, who was the organizing director at Our Revolution and had worked on Mr. Sanders's campaign, said she and others were also concerned about the group's tax status -- as a 501(c)(4) organization it can collect large donations from anonymous sources -- and that a focus by Mr. Weaver on television advertising meant that it would fail to reach many of the young voters who powered Mr. Sanders's campaign and are best reached online.

"I left and others left because we were alarmed that Jeff would mismanage this organization as he mismanaged the campaign," she said, expressing concern that Mr. Weaver would "betray its core purpose by accepting money from billionaires and not remaining grass-roots-funded and plowing that billionaire cash into TV instead of investing it in building a genuine movement."

Far from leading a movement, Bernie will disappear without a trace. He was a moment and the moment failed even among Democrats against a weak rival.

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 PM


Charlie Sykes' Air War : How one of the most influential #NeverTrumpers is battling his party's nominee and questioning some long-held beliefs. (ERICK TRICKEY August 21, 2016,  Politico Magazine)

Since last year, the most influential political talk show host in Wisconsin has found out just how hard it is to be a #NeverTrump conservative on right-wing radio. Ever since Sykes began denouncing Donald Trump on the air--which he does just about every time he talks about the presidential election--he's strained his relationships with the listeners of his daily radio show.

Sykes' many arguments with listeners over Donald Trump's serial outrages have exposed in much of his audience a vein of thinking--racist, anti-constitutional, maybe even fascistic--that has shaken Sykes. It has left him questioning whether he and his colleagues in the conservative media played a role in paving the way for Trump's surprising and unprecedented rise.

A few days before the Wisconsin congressional primary in early August, Sykes seized on remarks by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's opponent, Paul Nehlen, that raised the idea of deporting all Muslims, even American citizens. It's the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that has become the norm during a presidential cycle that has featured Trump's calls for immigration bans on Muslims, loyalty tests and mass deportations. A friendly and round-faced guy with glasses, Sykes, 61, doesn't even try to conceal his disgust, but a large segment of his listeners, like Audrey from Oshkosh, are eager to defend ideas that Sykes believes violate fundamental conservative principles.

"Yeah! Let me make a comparison, and I don't mean this in a bad way," Audrey says. "They're talking about phasing out breeding of pit bulls. Well, not all pit bulls are bad."

"You're comparing American citizens, Muslims, to rabid dogs," Sykes responds.

"No, I'm saying, they're talking about phasing out the breed because so many are bad. No one wants to phase out poodles! I mean, there's no Lutherans doing this! We never know when one of these people are going to be radicalized."

"One of these people," says Sykes.

Sykes ends the call. He's silent, broadcasting dead air. He looks upset, like he's stopped breathing. He goes to a commercial break.

"OK, that doesn't happen very often," he says off-air. "I'm not usually absolutely speechless." He says his listeners never talked like this until recently.

"Were these people that we actually thought were our allies?" he asks.

Posted by orrinj at 8:00 PM


Hillary Clinton has eased one of the biggest doubts about her capacity to be a good president (Matthew Yglesias on August 19, 2016, Vox)

As Donald Trump undertakes his second major campaign shakeup of the summer, it's worth reflecting on the remarkable stability of Hillary Clinton's 2016 quest for the presidency. Campaign chair John Podesta is exactly where he was a year ago. So are policy point man Jake Sullivan, communications director Jennifer Palmieri, spokesperson Brian Fallon, and basically everyone else.

The campaign is bigger than it was a year ago, with more field organizers and regional offices and an ever-expanded digital team. But fundamentally the team was put in place back when Joe Biden was seen as Clinton's main rival for the Democratic nomination.

The difference is stark: Trump appears to be running a pirate ship with endless mutinies on board while Hillary Clinton is running a well-disciplined battleship.

Posted by orrinj at 5:18 PM


Central Bankers' Main Challenge: Staying Relevant (GREG IP, Aug. 24, 2016, WSJ)

When central bankers gather this week in Jackson Hole, Wyo., they will be consumed not with some pressing crisis in the global economy but by an existential threat to their relevance.

The threat stems from the realization that the sluggish economic growth that has prevailed since 2009 may be here to stay. If so, then so are today's low interest rates.

Central banks set interest rates to balance investment and savings and thus keep economies fully employed and inflation stable. The interest rate that achieves that balance is called the natural rate. The fact that inflation and growth are now so sluggish despite ultra-easy monetary policy shows that the natural rate has fallen--by 1 to 2.5 percentage points since 2007 in the U.S., Canada, Britain and the eurozone, according to a recent Fed study. Fed policy makers think the U.S. natural rate is 3%, down from 4.5% before the recession. That's 1.5 percentage points less ammunition to counteract the next shock to the economy.

Won't Someone at the Fed Think of the Millennials? (Sid Verma, August 24, 2016, Bloomberg)

For the Federal Reserve to succeed in its mandated bid to anchor inflation higher, it needs to overcome a big demographic hurdle: millennials don't expect prices to rise anytime soon.

There's a good reason for that: Americans who entered the workforce from 2000 onwards have experienced a benign inflation climate, with core Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price inflation averaging just 1.7 percent, below the Fed's 2 percent target. And the PCE rate hasn't breached 2.5 percent at any point since the turn of the millennium.

Central Bankers are guarding against a phenomenon that no longer exists and damaging the economy periodically by fighting it.  They need to adopt policies that are relevant to the deflationary epoch.

Posted by orrinj at 5:01 PM


Why Germans give their kids paper cones on the first day of school  (Deutsche-Welle, 8/23/16)

 By far the most important [ritual...associated with starting elementary school] the so-called "Schultüte," literally school bag or cone."

...would give kids cones not filled with ice cream.

Posted by orrinj at 4:53 PM


Trump's shrinking trade appeal evident in North Carolina (THOMAS BEAUMONT, 8/24/16, Associated Press)

 Hillary Clinton "owes the state of North Carolina a very big apology," Donald Trump thundered, condemning the loss of manufacturing jobs due to free-trade deals supported by the Democratic presidential nominee.

The attack line drew no more than polite applause at his event last week in Charlotte.

In the state that may be the most pivotal to Trump's White House bid, the audience for the Republican's chief economic pitch is shrinking by the day. Textile and furniture manufacturing no longer dominates the state's economy as it did a generation ago. Banking, technology and others industries have driven North Carolina's economic output to grow faster than any state in the past three years.

Voters are flowing into the state at a firehose rate -- young, educated and many who take high-paying jobs when they arrive. They're coming from everywhere and quickly diluting North Carolina's conservative political underpinnings.

"Clinton is winning," said North Carolina Republican pollster Michael Luethy. "Particularly because folks who have moved to the state in the last five years are very different voters. They're persuaded by a different issue set than those have been here a while."

Posted by orrinj at 4:48 PM


Why Trump Is Failing With College Grads : His dark message of decline doesn't resonate among voters with college degrees. (WILLIAM A. GALSTON, Aug. 23, 2016, WSJ)

The support of white voters with a college education is the key battle of the 2016 presidential contest, and Donald Trump is losing it. In 2012 Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama by 14 points among college-educated whites, according to exit polls. The average of top national surveys shows Mr. Trump trailing Hillary Clinton among these voters by nine points, and the latest Pew Research Center survey gives Mrs. Clinton a 14-point edge.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, these voters are more important than ever. As recently as 1988, whites without a college degree formed 54% of the electorate, compared with only 31% for whites with a four-year degree or more and 15% for nonwhite voters. A Center for American Progress analysis shows that by 2012, the noncollege white share of the electorate had fallen by 18 points to 36%, while college-educated white voters had risen five points to 36% and minority voters nearly doubled to 28%.

Posted by orrinj at 4:43 PM


Obama creates 87,500-acre national monument in Maine's North Woods (KEVIN MILLER, 8/24/16,

President Obama designated more than 87,500 acres of forestland in Maine's fabled North Woods as a national monument Wednesday in a historic but unilateral decision following years of fierce debate.

With the stroke of a pen, Obama created the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument - the second national monument in Maine history after Acadia National Park's precursor - on land east of Baxter State Park in an area facing severe economic uncertainty. The move is likely to delight conservation activists and infuriate local opponents fearful the designation is trading potential industrial-based opportunities in the Katahdin region for mostly seasonal tourism jobs.

The designation is a substantial yet partial victory for Roxanne Quimby, the wealthy co-founder of the Burt's Bees product line whose nonprofit, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., donated the land to the federal government this week. 

The Left voted for Eleanor Roosevelt but got Teddy.

Posted by orrinj at 4:36 PM


Old people are happier than young people, study finds (The Week, 8/24/16)

Getting old might not be as bad as it's cracked up to be. Though growing older inevitably comes with the aches and pains of an aging body, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry added further evidence to the theory that it also comes with increased levels of happiness. After surveying 1,546 San Diego residents between the ages of 21 to 99, researchers found that the older people were, the happier they seemed to be.

Posted by orrinj at 1:36 PM


The Geo-Gamechanger? : Review of Chollet's The Long Game (Matt Gobush | August 22, 2016, Providence)

One of the many strengths of Chollet's account is, indeed, its inductive power: from the administration's varied approach to a diverse set of international challenges, he abstracts principles that capture the president's worldview. Obama's long game, Chollet posits, is defined by eight features: balance, sustainability, restraint, precision, patience, fallibility, skepticism, and exceptionalism. These are evidenced in the Administration's pivot to Asia (balance), handling of Afghanistan (sustainability), war against terrorism (precision), response to Russian aggression (patience), and so on. His analysis helps stitch together a coherent strategy from these disparate situations.

The "long game checklist," as Chollet refers to it, is revealing not only for what it includes, but also for what it does not. Largely absent from Obama's foreign policy has been a priority on the promotion of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and other progressive ideals. The author channels Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian realism and William James' pragmatism in describing the president's innate skepticism towards pursuing an ambitious values agenda. Obama's long game connotes realism and, as Chollet implies, an introspective realism focused on the means of exercising American power more than on the ends. Unlike his predecessors, Obama's legacy is not a vision of new world order, a bridge to a better future, or a struggle against an axis of evil, but a new understanding of America's potential and limits on the world stage.

While the book lives up to its goal of illuminating the "intellectual foundations" of Obama's foreign policy, it also confronts the hard cases in detail. Indeed, the first chapter is devoted to the Syria crisis, seen by many as Obama's norte mare. As Marc LiVecche and I argued in dueling essays in the spring issue of Providence, the red-line episode displayed the Obama doctrine's moral feebleness (my words) and bungling failure (LiVecche's). Chollet disarms our critiques--literally--by recalling a manifestly positive outcome of the tortured diplomatic episode: Assad's total and unconditional abandonment of his formidable chemical weapons arsenal. Even Israeli prime minister Netanyahu, a thorn in the president's side, readily acknowledges his nation and the world are safer as a result of Syria's chemical disarmament, however feeble and bungling the administration's rhetoric during the crisis. Advantage Chollet.

Chollet is less persuasive, however, in arguing that Obama's "unique style of foreign policy... is best suited to leadership in the twenty-first century." The surprising parallels he draws with the foreign policies of Republican predecessors Eisenhower, Nixon, and Bush 41 beg the question of whether the long game is a grand strategy more fit for containing rival superpowers, such as during the Cold War, than for managing asymmetric threats from rogue regimes and non-state actors, such as the United States and its allies face today.

One would prefer an Evangelical, like Reagan, Clinton or W, but a mere Republican will do.

Posted by orrinj at 1:31 PM


Trump aide accused Catholics of backing immigration to boost church (Rafael Bernal - 08/23/16, The Hill)

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's new campaign CEO, previously accused Catholics of supporting Hispanic immigration to prop up the church's numbers on his radio program in the spring. 

"I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics," Bannon told Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who, along with dozens of other leaders, wrote an open letter to fellow Catholics denouncing Trump. 

"I get that, right? But I think that is the subtext of part of the letter, and I think that is the subtext of a lot of the political direction of this."

That's the text, not a subtext.

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