August 18, 2017
IT'S A REPUBLIC...:
One of the strangest aspects of the current era is that the president of the United States seems to have little interest in running the country's government. A political novice with no fixed ideology or policy agenda, Donald Trump took office as if orchestrating a hostile corporate takeover. In his first six-plus months as president, he has followed his own counsel, displaying open contempt for much of the federal work force he now leads, slashing budgets, rescinding regulatory rules, and refusing to follow standard operating procedures. This has cost him allies in the executive branch, helped spur creative (and increasingly effective) bureaucratic opposition, and, thanks to that opposition, triggered multiple investigations that threaten to sap party and congressional support.Furious at what they consider treachery by internal saboteurs, the president and his surrogates have responded by borrowing a bit of political science jargon, claiming to be victims of the "deep state," a conspiracy of powerful, unelected bureaucrats secretly pursuing their own agenda. The concept of a deep state is valuable in its original context, the study of developing countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, and Turkey, where shadowy elites in the military and government ministries have been known to countermand or simply defy democratic directives. Yet it has little relevance to the United States, where governmental power structures are almost entirely transparent, egalitarian, and rule-bound.The White House is correct to perceive widespread resistance inside the government to many of its endeavors. But the same way the administration's media problems come not from "fake news" but simply from news, so its bureaucratic problems come not from an insidious, undemocratic "deep state" but simply from the state--the large, complex hive of people and procedures that constitute the U.S. federal government.
THEY'RE NAZIS, NOT FASCISTS:
Is there a common heritage that will cover El Greco and Hume and Dostoyevsky? Is there one that can include the Jacobites and the Jacobins? There is, but it is not racial, and white supremacists reject it because it rejects them. The unifying heritage of Europe is religious and philosophical. It is Jerusalem and Athens, in one famous formulation. Christian religion and Greek philosophy, filtered through Roman law and culture, are the foundation of European culture. The tensions, agreements, developments and settlements between these have shaped the Western world, and these roots of Western civilization are not congenial to white supremacy.Christianity is universal in its message and Jewish in its origins. For centuries after its founding, Christianity's center was the Mediterranean world, including Asia Minor and North Africa. Christianity has never been defined by race, and locally-grown racist heresies are only sustainable among those ignorant of Christianity's teachings, origins and history.Greek philosophy is likewise ill-suited to serve as a basis for white identity. It is either too universal (addressing the human condition in general) or too local--none of us live as citizens of an ancient Greek polis. Later philosophical developments in Europe, such as the philosophies of the Enlightenment, likewise tend to be too universal for white supremacists seeking a tribal identity. As for the scientific revolution that developed within Western culture (albeit with much borrowed from outside Europe), math doesn't care what color someone is.The achievements of European culture in art, literature, philosophy, government, and so on are inseparable from the roots of that culture. Remove the religion and philosophy, and the tapestry of Western culture falls apart, a few disparate threads fluttering to the floor amidst the dust. There is no unified "white" culture or heritage except for that of Western civilization, which is not defined by race and which always reaches beyond race.Some achievements and developments are only possible under certain cultural conditions, but culture isn't race. Western civilization is not reducible to skin color, and the racist self-declared defenders of European culture are pig-ignorant of it. Indeed, white supremacists hate most of the cultural heritage they ostensibly claim, precisely because it is not defined by, or confined to, any race.
IT'S A PURITAN NATION:
The U.S. Constitution never explicitly mentions God or the divine, but the same cannot be said of the nation's state constitutions. In fact, God or the divine is mentioned at least once in each of the 50 state constitutions and nearly 200 times overall, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.
PITY THE POOR FLATLANDERS:
DONALD HAS NO CHILDREN:
Heather Heyer's mother, Susan Bro: "I'm not talking to the president now. I'm sorry. After what he said about my child." pic.twitter.com/e211KVVlJZ— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) August 18, 2017
Democrats are already preparing for a possible 2020 presidential bid by Vice President Mike Pence, with a major group dedicating staff -- including on the ground in Indiana -- to dig up dirt on him, amid rumblings that Pence is positioning himself for a run.American Bridge 21st Century -- a Democratic opposition super PAC and nonprofit funded by liberal mega-donors -- is leading the effort, which started earlier this summer and kicked into high gear following a New York Times story reporting on Pence's "shadow campaign."
Thus far the new administration has failed abjectly to forge any new Trump doctrine or foreign policy grand strategy, centered around his "America first" vision. Instead of clarity, there has been policy incoherence and U-turns on issues such as military action in Syria - a departure from Trump's isolationist campaign rhetoric; whether Nato is "obsolete" or "not obsolete"; and also confusion over his stance on the Paris deal.These flip-flops reflect both the ad-hoc nature of the new President's style of governing and the divisions within his team on key foreign policy issues.Take the Paris climate deal. Top Trump aides like son-in-law Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted the US to remain part of the agreement. Trump, for his part, has combined longstanding criticism of the pact with apparent uncertainty about exactly where he stands on it.In June, he finally gave notice he was pulling the United States out of the deal, yet when he met French President Emmanuel Macron last month Trump indicated he may yet reverse course, saying that "something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. Let's see what happens". This potential flip flop comes after intense criticism by world political and business leaders of Washington's abdication of leadership in tackling global warming.What the global backlash to Trump's Paris prevarication underlines is the dramatic shift in international opinion against his administration.A Pew Global poll found last month that around three quarters of those surveyed had little or no confidence in his international leadership and policies. Remarkably, he already enjoys less support than did George W Bush at the height of his own foreign policy travails after the controversy of the Iraq invasion.Other key strands of Trump's specific vision to make "America great again", that have - so far at least - failed to materialise include ending or renegotiating the Iranian nuclear agreement; and his pledges to re-define relations with Russia which have been set back by the new US sanctions legislation on Russia in which he was outmanoeuvred by Congress. In all these cases, Trump's plans have hit the reality of the complexity of international relations and/ or US checks and balances.Trump's political window of opportunity to put an enduring stamp on US foreign policy is narrowing. His ad hoc style of governing, which regularly exposes lack of experience and knowledge of international issues, risks even greater confusion and incoherence.
ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:
A cartoon similar to the latest New Yorker cover https://t.co/tWBqeNnU0F— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 18, 2017
NO ONE HATES JUST MEXICANS:
Breitbart continues to use globes in its headlines to denote Jews. Seriously guys, just use yellow stars. You're not fooling anyone. pic.twitter.com/Wh2pvNDJu7— Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) August 16, 2017
YOUR NEXT CAR WILL BE A VOLT:
Hyundai Motor Co said on Thursday it was placing electric vehicles at the center of its product strategy - one that includes plans for a premium long-distance electric car as it seeks to catch up to Tesla and other rivals.Like Toyota Motor Corp, Hyundai had initially championed fuel cell technology as the future of eco-friendly vehicles but has found itself shifting electric as Tesla shot to prominence and battery-powered cars have gained government backing in China.Toyota is now also working on longer distance, fast-charging electric vehicles, local media have reported.
Three fundraising giants decided to pull events from President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on Thursday, signaling a direct blowback to his business empire from his comments on Charlottesville's racial unrest.The American Cancer Society, a high-dollar client at the club since at least 2009, cited its "values and commitment to diversity" in a statement on its decision to move an upcoming fundraising gala. Another longtime Mar-a-Lago customer, the Cleveland Clinic, abruptly changed course on its winter event only days after saying it planned to continue doing business at Mar-a-Lago, a leading venue for charitable events in the posh resort town.The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which raises money for Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross, also said it would not hold its 2018 gala at the club "after considerable deliberation," though it did not give a reason. The charity had one of Mar-a-Lago's biggest events last season, with about 600 people in attendance.
KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:
"Targeting innocent civilians and killing them is part of a satanic plot being carried out by those terrorists, which aims at tarnishing the concept of jihad and sullying the image of Islam," Hezbollah said.
JOBS PEOPLE WON'T DO:
Jim Bogart sees a growing trend in his patch of America: Farmers are turning more and more to machines because they can't find enough workers to harvest fruits and vegetables.It's an issue costing California farmers millions of dollars and, they argue, it will eventually mean higher food prices at supermarkets."With the shortage of workers, we have to develop other means to help us grow, harvest and process our crops -- robotics, mechanization, automation," says Bogart, who is president of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.The farmers in Bogart's area aren't alone. Farmers across the state are investing more in robots and other automated technologies as they struggle to fill job openings, according to a Federal Reserve survey published in July.
THAT'LL NEVER PENETRATE THE BUBBLE...:
Adm. William F. Moran, vice chief of naval operations, told reporters Thursday that about a dozen sailors who were aboard the USS Fitzgerald when it collided with a container ship June 17 off the coast of Japan, killing seven crew members, will face disciplinary action, including the top two officers and top enlisted sailor.
IMMIGRANTS, GETTING THE JOB DONE:
More interesting was his "blunt" message to "the neo-Nazis and to the white supremacists and to the neo-Confederates," which began: "Your heroes are losers. You are supporting a lost cause. Believe me, I knew the original Nazis." He explained that he was born in Austria in 1947, right after World War II, and growing up he "was surrounded by broken men, men who came home from the war filled with shrapnel and guilt, men who were misled into a losing ideology. And I can tell you that these ghosts that you idolize spent the rest of their lives living in shame. And right now, they're resting in hell." He said it isn't too late to change course, and he wasn't buying Trump's "fine people" excuse for the Charlottesville marchers."If you say 'Arnold, hey, I was just at the march, don't call me a Nazi, I have nothing to do with Nazis at all,'" Schwarzenegger said, "let me help you: Don't hang around people who carry Nazi flags, give Nazi salutes, or shout Nazi slogans. Go home. Or better yet, tell them they are wrong to celebrate an ideology that murdered millions of people. And then go home."
WAIT, THE DEFENSE OF THE STATUE...:
Under the cover of night, a work crew removed the statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the grounds of the State House, ending the monument's 145-year perch on the prominent spot in Annapolis. [...]Taney was chief justice of the United States and author of the infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery and found that black Americans could not be citizens. [...]About two-dozen onlookers gathered around the street as word spread that the statue might come down. About 1:20 a.m., sprinklers turned on, dousing onlookers and workers until the water was shut off about 15 minutes later.Gwen Norman of Baltimore happened upon the crowd watching the removal of the statue after a night out in Annapolis with friends.She was pleased that Baltimore had removed its Taney statue and three Confederate monuments, and felt fortunate to witness the Taney removal in Annapolis."It was a beautiful thing to wake up and see something so beautiful happened when I was asleep," said Norman, 27."It was nice to see Annapolis get prettier tonight," said her companion, 30-year-old Ian Wolfe of Frederick. [...]Miller, who does not support removing the statue, sent a letter to Hogan Thursday evening saying the vote lacked transparency because it was held by email rather than in public. [...]Miller said the installation of a statue of late Justice Thurgood Marshall -- the first African-American appointed to the high court -- on the opposite side of the State House was "a very public and purposeful compromise to give balance to the State House grounds recognizing our State and our Country have a flawed history."
THE IRON LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES:
Similarly, the OKC bombing allowed Janet Reno to crush the militia movement.Apple, LinkedIn, Spotify and Twitter have joined a growing chorus of technology companies to hit out at the far right and Donald Trump's attempt to put white supremacists and leftwing counter-demonstrators at Saturday's Charlottesville protest on the same moral plane.Following the lead of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google, Go Daddy and others, Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged $1m donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League and sent a strongly worded memo to staff, quoting Martin Luther King, about the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday."We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it," Cook wrote. "This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality."I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans."
SO EASY THE RUSSIANS CAN DO IT:
Russian cosmonauts released a satellite made almost entirely with a 3-D printer on August 17 in a first for the space program.Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergei Ryazansky sent into orbit five small satellites on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, one of which had an exterior casing and battery packs made with a 3-D printer.
August 17, 2017
THE DRIVERS ARE THE TERRORISTS:
This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island.They were joined by other states trying to discourage protests -- typically relating to Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline or other left-leaning causes -- that sometimes obstruct traffic.The North Dakota bill would shield drivers from civil and criminal liability. The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Keith Kempenich, perversely suggested that shielding drivers who kill protesters was a necessary anti-terrorism measure.
The Red Sox were the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate, in 1959, a full 12 seasons after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Brooklyn. Yawkey was so opposed to employing a black player, he chose, for a dozen seasons, to run his team at a decided competitive disadvantage. He demonstrably cared more about having an all-white team than winning.He actually could have signed Robinson. In 1945, Boston politicians forced the Red Sox to have a tryout for African-American players under threat that they wouldn't allow games to be played on Sunday. Robinson was one of three players brought to a sham of a workout. Robinson impressed the assembled media and some scouts, but never stood a chance with Yawkey.Instead, Robinson soon signed a minor-league deal with Brooklyn, joined the majors a season later and went on to an iconic, Hall of Fame career. Pair him with Williams in the middle of the late 1940s Red Sox lineup, and perhaps that Red Sox World Series drought ends six decades earlier.John Henry is a great baseball owner. In 2002 he bought the Sox from the Yawkey Trust and has delivered three World Series titles, a modernized Fenway Park and a complete overhaul in the team's racial progressiveness.Yet he can't get over that in 1977, the City of Boston honored the then-recently deceased Yawkey by renaming a tight sliver of a street that runs along the left field line outside Fenway after him. Yawkey Way has been its name ever since. These days, during the season, it is shut down and used as a pregame fan gathering, drinking and dining spot."Haunted," Henry said in an email to the Boston Herald, citing Yawkey's racism.And he'd like to see the street name changed to something else. The Red Sox don't own the street. The city does, so it's not an organizational decision. Henry said city politicians have rebuffed him in the past because they didn't want to "open a can of worms."After incidents and a terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, and "in light of the country's current leadership stance with regard to intolerance," Henry said he is going to try to open that can all by himself. Here's a billionaire businessman going after Donald Trump via Tom Yawkey Way.
This is Trump's moment of truth on trade, one of his premier issues. But even before Lighthizer sat down at the table, it was almost certain "America First" and "Made in America" will remain empty promises when the NAFTA talks end in January.One obvious reason: Mexico and Canada have a lot at stake, too, both politically and economically. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces an election next summer. Justin Trudeau has to bring something back to Canada for restive industrial lobbies, greens, and other interest groups. Everyone goes home a winner is the name of this game. And nobody can win much of consequence unless there is a loser on the other end.The 1994 pact could use an update. Chrystia Freeland, Trudeau's foreign minister, is looking for a "modernized NAFTA" come January, and all sides are in for this. This means topics such as rules of origin, local content, e-commerce technology, and emerging products such as batteries that drive electric cars will be on the table this fall. The new NAFTA will have new sections, but it won't in any way be a radically new path forward.Trump promised too much, and nobody in his administration -- not Lighthizer, not Wilbur Ross at Commerce -- has yanked him into reality. They all seem to be going at the trade question with bad strategy and very misguided tactics.
VOTING HATE IS ALWAYS A MISTAKE:
This is a little like David French going full MAGA. Julius Krein, who founded a journal devoted to defending Trumpism, is off the Trump train:When Donald Trump first announced his presidential campaign, I, like most people, thought it would be a short-lived publicity stunt. A month later, though, I happened to catch one of his political rallies on C-Span. I was riveted.I supported the Republican in dozens of articles, radio and TV appearances, even as conservative friends and colleagues said I had to be kidding. As early as September 2015, I wrote that Mr. Trump was "the most serious candidate in the race." Critics of the pro-Trump blog and then the nonprofit journal that I founded accused us of attempting to "understand Trump better than he understands himself." I hoped that was the case. I saw the decline in this country -- its weak economy and frayed social fabric -- and I thought Mr. Trump's willingness to move past partisan stalemates could begin a process of renewal.It is now clear that my optimism was unfounded. I can't stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president.Far from making America great again, Mr. Trump has betrayed the foundations of our common citizenship. And his actions are jeopardizing any prospect of enacting an agenda that might restore the promise of American life.
PITY THE POOR FLATLANDERS:
For the second consecutive year, New Hampshire ranks as the No. 1 state for families to live richer lives, finds a new study by personal finance website GOBankingRates. [...]The rankings were determined by analyzing 12 key factors grouped into the following five categories:Jobs and Income: Median household income and state unemployment rate.Housing: Median home listing price and state property tax rate.Lifestyle: State tax rate, annual child care costs, cost of groceries and school district grade.Healthcare: Average family health insurance premium and percentage of employer contribution to employee health insurance.Safety: Annual Violent crime rates and property crime rates.
TIME TO END THIS FIASCO:
Far from being the saviour of the Republic, their president is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office.Start with the ineptness. In last year's presidential election Mr Trump campaigned against the political class to devastating effect. Yet this week he has bungled the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis. Having equivocated at his first press conference on Saturday, Mr Trump said what was needed on Monday and then undid all his good work on Tuesday--briefly uniting Fox News and Mother Jones in their criticism, surely a first. As business leaders started to resign enmasse from his advisory panels, the White House disbanded them. Mr Trump did, however, earn the endorsement of David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. [...]Mr Trump's inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting "Jews will not replace us". Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump's seemingly heartfelt defence of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view.At the root of it all is Mr Trump's temperament. In difficult times a president has a duty to unite the nation. Mr Trump tried in Monday's press conference, but could not sustain the effort for even 24 hours because he cannot get beyond himself. A president needs to rise above the point-scoring and to act in the national interest. Mr Trump cannot see beyond the latest slight. Instead of grasping that his job is to honour the office he inherited, Mr Trump is bothered only about honouring himself and taking credit for his supposed achievements.Presidents have come in many forms and still commanded the office. Ronald Reagan had a moral compass and the self-knowledge to delegate political tactics. LBJ was a difficult man but had the skill to accomplish much that was good. Mr Trump has neither skill nor self-knowledge, and this week showed that he does not have the character to change.
The American Cancer Society is pulling a 2018 fundraiser from President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort— NPR (@NPR) August 17, 2017
DONALD HAS NO CHILDREN:
There are multiple problems with this story. First, it's false. There's no evidence Pershing did such a thing. In fact, he got the history exactly backwards. Pershing worked hard to avoid inflaming religious fanaticism and worked hard to avoid unnecessary loss of life. For example, read this excerpt from a letter Pershing wrote to the insurgents. The language comes from his own memoir:I write you this letter because I am sorry to know that you and your people refuse to do what the government has ordered. You do not give up your arms. Soldiers were sent to Taglibi so that you could come into camp and turn in your guns. When the soldiers went to camp a Taglibi, your Moros fired into camp and tried to kill the soldiers. Then the soldiers had to shoot all Moros who fired upon them. When the soldiers marched through the country, the Moros again shot at them, so the soldiers had to kill several others. I am sorry the soldiers had to kill any Moros. All Moros are the same to me as my children and no father wants to kill his own children.Those are not the words of a man who commits a religious war crime. A comprehensive report over at Snopes contains a number of other, similar reports in Pershing's own words. Simply put, Trump libeled an American hero, the man who led American troops through the crucible of the First World War. The president who relentlessly attacks "fake news" keeps advancing "fake history."Trump isn't just spreading falsehoods, he's doing so in a context that puts a presidential stamp of approval on war crimes. Even worse, he's doing it in direct defiance of the warrior ethos of the American military. There is no possible way that any of Trump's generals would approve of this sentiment. I've never met an American officer who would carry out an order to commit an atrocity like this.
Paste was thrilled to host two blues legends this week when Taj Mahal and Keb Mo brought their new collaborative project to our Midtown Manhattan studio for an intimate performance and a masterclass on the life of blues music.The duo have a new album, the aptly titled Tajmo, out now, and it showcases everything that has made each of them a torchbearer for American music over the past few decades. Taj Mahal has been representing and redefining blues music since 1968, when he released his first album, Taj Mahal, an eclectic mix of traditional songs and modern revamps. With its authentic renditions of songs originally recorded by masters like Sleepy John Estes, Blind Willie McTell and Elmore James, Taj Mahal provided a vital bridge from the delta blues of the 1930s to the blues-indebted rock of psychedelic '60s, helping the music stretch its legs into the 1970s and become part of the permanent fabric of rock.Twenty-five years later, Keb Mo emerged with the blues resurgence of the early '90s, reaching back to Robert Johnson and the deepest roots of the music just as another generation was coming around to the origin story of American songwriting. If their music is steeped in tradition, though, their personal touches are anything but derivative. Both men have spent many years and many albums infusing the blues format with sounds and styles taken from the far corners of the music world, from reggae to folk to calypso to rock 'n' roll, each with an immediately recognizable voice and guitar-picking style.
HE'S NOT AMERICAN:
A leading Republican senator told reporters on Thursday that President Trump "has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful."Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker was at the Rotary Club of Chattanooga and spoke to local reporters there. In video posted by Chloe Morrison of Nooga.com, Corker added, "And we need for him to be successful. Our nation needs for him to be successful."
The hacker, known only by his online alias "Profexer," kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.Profexer's posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January -- just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.But while Profexer's online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.
In a series of three tweets over 14 minutes this morning, President Trump doubled down on his controversial rhetoric from his Tuesday press conference, calling the removal of Confederate statues a contributing factor to "the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart."