B12 Solipsism

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FBI vs. Apple Continued – Apple ID Changed While iPhone In Government Hands

Restoring iPhone From Backup 2015-01-01 at 11.33.01 AM
Restoring iPhone From Backup 

The unnamed FBI official who was boasting to WSJ journalists about the Farook case being “nearly perfect” as a test probably wishes that quote hadn’t been used now in light of this development:

[Apple said it] had been in regular discussions with the government since early January, and that it proposed four different ways to recover the information the government is interested in without building a backdoor. One of those methods would have involved connecting the iPhone to a known Wi-Fi network and triggering an iCloud backup that might provide the FBI with information stored to the device between the October 19th and the date of the incident.

Apple sent trusted engineers to try that method, the executives said, but they were unable to do it. It was then that they discovered that the Apple ID password associated with the iPhone had been changed. (The FBI claims this was done by someone at the San Bernardino Health Department.) Had that password not been changed, the executives said, the government would not need to demand the company create a “backdoor” to access the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook

(click here to continue reading Apple: Terrorist’s Apple ID Password Changed In Government Custody, Blocking Access – BuzzFeed News.)

Did you notice? The FBI had possession of Farook’s iPhone for over 24 hours, before some agent or other employee changed the Apple ID password. (!!!???!!!)

Changing the Apple ID password isn’t hard, but it isn’t something you do without meaning to.  You’d have to log-in, give the old password, then create the new password, entering it twice. Presumedly, you’d either commit the password to memory, or WRITE IT DOWN.

Hmmm, “nearly perfect test case” indeed. 

Terrorism theatre, part the 234,323rd.

After the FBI sneeringly complained that encryption, privacy and security were merely marketing phrases to Apple, Apple responded with an eyeroll…

Creating the backdoor access, the executives said, would put at risk the privacy of millions of users. It would not only serve to unlock one specific phone, they said, but create a sort of master key that could be used to access any number of devices. The government says the access being sought could only be used on this one phone, but Apple’s executives noted that there is widespread interest in an iPhone backdoor, noting that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Thursday that his office has 175 Apple devices he’d like cracked. They also claimed that no other government in the world has ever asked Apple for the sort of FBiOS the government is demanding that it build now.

Asked why the company is pushing back so hard against this particular FBI request when it has assisted the agency in the past, Apple executives noted that the San Bernadino case is fundamentally different from others in which it was involved. Apple has never before been asked to build an entirely new version of its iOS operating system designed to disable iPhone security measures.

The Apple senior executives also pushed back on the government’s arguments that Apple’s actions were a marketing ploy, saying they were instead based on their love for the country and desire not to see civil liberties tossed aside.

(click here to continue reading Apple: Terrorist’s Apple ID Password Changed In Government Custody, Blocking Access – BuzzFeed News.)

Booting Up

If you haven’t read digital forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski’s blog post entitled “Apple, FBI, and the Burden of Forensic Methodology”, you should click through and read it right away (well, within 5 seconds). The FBI’s request is quite a big ask, not something considered last minute, but obviously planned carefully for maximum impact. Director Comey has been pushing for back doors to Apple and Google smartphones for a long time. 

Apple must be prepared to defend their tool and methodology in court; no really, the defense / judge / even juries in CA will ask stupid questions such as, “why didn’t you do it this way”, or “is this jail breaking”, or “couldn’t you just jailbreak the phone?” (i was actually asked that by a juror in CA’s broken legal system that lets the jury ask questions). Apple has to invest resources in engineers who are intimately familiar with not only their code, but also why they chose the methodology they did as their best practices. If certain challenges don’t end well, future versions of the instrument may end up needing to incorporate changes at the request of FBI.

If evidence from a device ever leads to a case in a court room, the defense attorney will (and should) request a copy of the tool to have independent third party verification performed, at which point the software will need to be made to work on another set of test devices. Apple will need to work with defense experts to instruct them on how to use the tool to provide predictable and consistent results.

In the likely event that FBI compels the use of the tool for other devices, Apple will need to maintain engineering and legal staff to keep up to date on their knowledge of the tool, maintain the tool, and provide testimony as needed.

In other words, developing an instrument is far more involved than simply dumping a phone for FBI, which FBI could have ordered:

  • Developed to forensically sound standards 
  • Validated and peer-reviewed 
  • Be tested and run on numerous test devices 
  • Accepted in court 
  • Given to third party forensics experts (testing) 
  • Given to defense experts (defense) 
  • Stand up to challenges 
  • Be explained on the stand 
  • Possibly give source code if ordered 
  • Maintain and report on issues 
  • Defend lawsuits from those convicted 
  • Legally pursue any agencies, forensics companies, or hackers that steal parts of the code. 
  • Maintain legal and engineering staff to support it 
  • On appeals, go through much of the process all over again

The risks are significant too:

  • Ingested by an agency, reverse engineered, then combined with in-house or purchased exploits to fill in the gap of code signing.
  • Ingested by private forensics companies, combined with other tools / exploits, then sold as a commercial product.
  • Leaked to criminal hackers, who reverse engineer and find ways to further exploit devices, steal personal data, or use it as an injection point for other ways to weaken the security of the device.
  • The PR nightmare from demonstrating in a very public venue how the company’s own products can be back doored.
  • The judicial precedents set to now allow virtually any agency to compel the software be used on any other device.
  • The international ramifications of other countries following in our footsteps; many countries of which have governments that oppress civil rights.

This far exceeds the realm of “reasonable assistance”, especially considering that Apple is not a professional forensics company and has no experience in designing forensic methodology, tools, or forensic validation. FBI could attempt to circumvent proper validation by issuing a deviation (as they had at one point with my own tools), however this runs the risk of causing the house of cards to collapse if challenged by a defense attorney.

(click here to continue reading Apple, FBI, and the Burden of Forensic Methodology | Zdziarski’s Blog of Things.)

Not something an Apple intern can do in an afternoon, in other words, but a significant task imposed on a private corporation by a government agency, in support of “what some law-enforcement officials privately describe as a nearly perfect test case.” 

Written by Seth Anderson

February 19th, 2016 at 9:05 pm

You Wanted To Disappear was uploaded to Flickr

Foggy afternoon, Chicago

(The sculpture is called Progress Lighting the Way for Commerce)

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/E79yTw

I took You Wanted To Disappear on September 12, 2009 at 05:14AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 19, 2016 at 09:27AM

Written by eggplant

February 19th, 2016 at 1:53 pm

FBI vs. Apple – The Fight Over Smartphone Encryption

Cell phone-iphile
A few more details re: the FBI vs. Apple case

A conspiracy minded person might wonder how much the FBI and NSA knew about the planned attack before it happened. Maybe James Comey decided a little collateral damage was a fair price to pay?

As the fight between federal officials and tech companies over encryption has intensified in recent years, talks between the two sides have produced few results, while Congress has struggled to craft legislation on the issue.

FBI leaders had been scanning for a case that would make a compelling argument about the dangers of encryption. In the San Bernardino phone, they found what some law-enforcement officials privately describe as a nearly perfect test case.

(click here to continue reading U.S. and Apple Dig In for Court Fight Over Encryption – WSJ.)

Again, having 9 Justices on the SCOTUS is extremely important, for many reasons, including this case:

Apple has a few more days to file its formal response to the court, which can be summed up as: “No.”

After a series of briefings at this local level, if neither side is happy, the case will be passed on to the District Court. Still no solution? The case would then be escalated to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the court which handles these sorts of issues on the US West Coast.

If that court backs the FBI, and Apple again refuses, it could eventually reach the US Supreme Court, whose decision will ultimately be final, and in this utterly fascinating case, precedent setting.

(click here to continue reading Apple vs the FBI – a plain English guide – BBC News.)

Cell Phone Evolution
Cell Phone Evolution

Is it even possible to do what the government is requesting? Yes, it does seem so, per the analysis of Dan Guido.

Again in plain English, the FBI wants Apple to create a special version of iOS that only works on the one iPhone they have recovered. This customized version of iOS (*ahem* FBiOS) will ignore passcode entry delays, will not erase the device after any number of incorrect attempts, and will allow the FBI to hook up an external device to facilitate guessing the passcode. The FBI will send Apple the recovered iPhone so that this customized version of iOS never physically leaves the Apple campus. As many jailbreakers are familiar, firmware can be loaded via Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) Mode. Once an iPhone enters DFU mode, it will accept a new firmware image over a USB cable. Before any firmware image is loaded by an iPhone, the device first checks whether the firmware has a valid signature from Apple. This signature check is why the FBI cannot load new software onto an iPhone on their own — the FBI does not have the secret keys that Apple uses to sign firmware.

(click here to continue reading Apple can comply with the FBI court order – Trail of Bits Blog.)

Would You Believe
Would You Believe

and finally, some other tech companies spoke up in support of Apple’s stance:

On Wednesday, Apple’s peers in the technology industry – also eager to keep reputations over security intact – gave their backing to the iPhone maker.

Jan Koum, the creator of Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, wrote: “We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake.”

The Information Technology Industry Council, a lobbying group that represents Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, Blackberry and a host of others, put out this statement: “Our fight against terrorism is actually strengthened by the security tools and technologies created by the technology sector, so we must tread carefully given our shared goals of improving security, instead of creating insecurity.”

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said: “Forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy.”

Edward Snowden, whose revelations about US government spying provoked Apple’s stance on passcode-protected data, said the FBI was “creating a world where citizens rely on Apple to defend their rights, rather than the other way around”.

(click here to continue reading Apple vs the FBI – a plain English guide – BBC News.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 18th, 2016 at 11:41 am

Posted in Apple,crime,government

Tagged with ,

Apple Doesn’t Want to Create Special Software For the FBI To Bypass Security

Pippin's New MBA

I’m on Apple’s side on this, 1,000%, the government should not be allowed such latitude. Apple currently has the full letter on their website, some excerpts below.

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.

This moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

(click here to continue reading Customer Letter – Apple.)

A new version of the iOS, created just for the government to inspect our private communications? That doesn’t sound good, in fact, that is a horrible precedent for private industry. I assume this case will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, all the more reason to have a full 9 Justices sitting on the court.

Apple store

Tim Cook continues:

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

 

(click here to continue reading Customer Letter – Apple.)

for reference:

The All Writs Act is a United States federal statute, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1651, which authorizes the United States federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

(click here to continue reading All Writs Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Apple Logos

The NYT gives a little context:

Apple said on Wednesday that it would oppose and challenge a federal court order to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.

On Tuesday, in a significant victory for the government, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook’s co-workers at a holiday gathering.

Judge Pym ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.

But hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who say that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.

(click here to continue reading Tim Cook Opposes Order for Apple to Unlock iPhone, Setting Up Showdown – The New York Times.)

The WSJ adds:

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said the company will oppose a federal judge’s order to help the Justice Department unlock a phone used by a suspect in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack.

In a strongly worded letter to customers posted on Apple’s website early Wednesday, Mr. Cook called the order an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” with “implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

The order, reflected in legal filings unsealed Tuesday, marks a watershed moment in the long-running argument between Washington and Silicon Valley over privacy and security.

In the order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym agreed with a Justice Department request that Apple help unlock an iPhone 5C once used by Syed Rizwan Farook. The order calls on Apple to disable certain security measures on the phone, including a feature that permanently disables the phone after 10 unsuccessful tries at the password. Such measures have kept agents from reviewing the contents of the phone, according to the filing. When the phone is locked, the data is encrypted.

Apple said it isn’t opposing the order lightly nor does it question the FBI’s intentions, but it feels that the government has overreached.

In her order, Judge Pym gave Apple five days to appeal.

(click here to continue reading Apple Opposes Judge’s Order to Help Unlock Phone Linked to San Bernardino Attack – WSJ.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 17th, 2016 at 9:36 am

Posted in Apple,crime,government

Tagged with , ,

Thanks, Obama was uploaded to Flickr

That’s the cheapest gasoline I’ve purchased in quite some time.

And for the record, not directly related to Obama’s administration, as far as I know. (Though it was a talking point of Newt Gingrich and other GOP presidential candidates in 2012)

for instance:
http://ift.tt/1HeyuUX

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/E2KE3P

I took Thanks, Obama on February 15, 2016 at 12:04PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 15, 2016 at 06:04PM

Written by eggplant

February 15th, 2016 at 10:10 pm

The Scalia Vacancy On The Supreme Court

Anton Scalia Is Dead

If the Republican Party of 2016 were students of history, and not just do-nothing nihilists, they would vote on the new Supreme Court Justice within a day or two of Obama nominating him. Even if there were hearings to discuss the “fitness” of the candidate, the vote shouldn’t take more than a month. The NYT made a handy-dandy graphic for reference.

The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.

But as we all know, the Republicans’ main gambit during the Obama administration has been “party over country”, as proven again and again and again by their actions of delaying the simplest action.

I bet you didn’t realize that the term of the president has been truncated, now it isn’t four years, but three years, per the GOP anyway. 

So what to do? Sally Kohn argues Obama should make a recess appointment:

Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution reads: “Power to nominate the Justices is vested in the President of the United States, and appointments are made with the advice and consent of the Senate.” Last we all checked, President Obama is the President of the United States. Appointing a Supreme Court justice is his privilege and responsibility. Republicans, incidentally, are pointing to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who Senate Democrats successfully blocked. But Democrats didn’t announce, hours after the vacancy was created and before any names were floated, that they would unanimously block any justice Reagan would nominate. Their opposition was specifically limited to Bork. And when Bork was blocked and Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Today, Republicans haven’t declared their opposition to a specific candidate. They have declared their opposition to President Obama nominating anyone. So what are President Obama’s options? Since he has said he will nominate a justice to fill the vacancy and not bow to this ridiculous Republican temper tantrum, my sense is he has two realistic options. The first is to nominate a superstar moderate to fill the vacancy—someone it will be very politically hard for Republicans to oppose.

Obama’s second option is a recess appointment. It just so happens that the Senate is currently in recess until Feb. 22nd. While a Supreme Court ruling in 2014 constrained such appointments, the way Senate Republicans have taken this current break might make it possible for President Obama to legally make an appointment.…Obama has strong wind at his sails to do this, with McConnell and others already declaring their blanket opposition to backing any nominee, and I’m not gonna lie, it would be a really powerful “Fuck you” gesture to make to a Republican Party that has been nothing but problematically petulant since Obama took office.

(click here to continue reading Obama has two choices in filling the Scalia vacancy – Quartz.)

My guess is that “No Drama” Obama won’t choose this path though, despite it being reasonable. I do hope Obama at least nominates a candidate in a week or so, and then consistently pushes the Senate to perform its “advise and consent” role. Lame-duck interm appointments and executive appointments may be frowned upon (for some reason), but Obama has more than 300 days left in his term! My understanding of lame-duck was it is from November of an election year to the next inauguration the following January. 

Barack Obama - 49th Ward mural
Barack Obama – 49th Ward mural

Joan Walsh has more on that topic:

Leave it to Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell to defile Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s “originalist” constitutional legacy, when he’d barely been gone 24 hours. McConnell says President Obama can’t appoint Scalia’s successor; the choice must be left to “a new president,” although Obama has more than 11 months left in his term.

Thus did McConnell seem to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution to strip a year from the president’s final term. All 43 presidents before him had four-year terms (unless they died in office or resigned, of course), but when it comes to arguably the president’s most important job, McConnell would limit Obama to three years.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday evening. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.” Note to McConnell: A majority of the American people elected Barack Obama, twice. He is the first American president to get more than 50 percent of the popular vote, twice, since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is in fact our right to have a voice in the selection of a justice. Obama is our voice.

(click here to continue reading Mitch McConnell Wants Obama to Have a 3-Year Last Term | The Nation.)

as does Senator Elizabeth Warren:

The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did — when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes.

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.” Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself.

It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that — empty talk.

(click here to continue reading (2) U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.)

We’ll see what happens, I suspect the topic will be in the news until the Democratic Party nominee wins the 2016 election.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 15th, 2016 at 10:04 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with ,

Transactional Journalism Is Not Journalism

Planet Hillary

Planet Hillary 

I don’t really fault politicians, or other media manipulators for asking, the shame is on the alleged journalists for accepting the quid pro quo. 

Margaret Sullivan, the very good Public Editor of the New York Times, writes, in part:

Here’s an ugly term: Transactional journalism — also known as a quid pro quo.

Hardly an unfamiliar idea, it came up this week with the disclosure that a writer for The Atlantic made a deal to use a particular word — “muscular” — in describing a 2009 speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in order to get an advance copy of the speech. Her aide also required the writer, Marc Ambinder, to favorably mention a State Department delegation attending the speech.

In emails that were made public by Gawker, Mr. Ambinder agreed (“got it,” he wrote of the instructions from Philippe Reines of Mrs. Clinton’s staff) and received his advance copy. The practice rightly was termed “corrupt” by Erik Wemple of The Washington Post, though he gave Mr. Ambinder credit for “appropriate contrition.” (The Atlantic has appended an editor’s note to the article.)

(click here to continue reading Times Reporter: ‘I Would Never Cut a Deal Like That’ – The New York Times.)

Yeah, well The Atlantic appended this weasle-worded note to the original article:

Editor’s note: On February 9, 2016, Gawker called the reporting of this post into question. It is The Atlantic’s policy never to cede to sources editorial control of the content of our stories.

That’s a pretty thin defense, wouldn’t you say? Does it really apologize? Does it admit that what Gawker reports is accurate? 

Laughing At Your Airs
Laughing At Your Airs

The New York Times reporter who covered the exact same speech also used the word, “muscular” but pinky swears he didn’t sell his soul, just that he was unoriginal:

A New York Times reporter, Mark Landler, whose article on the speech also used the word “muscular” and also mentioned the delegation, told me in the strongest terms on Wednesday that he had not made any sort of similar arrangement and would not do so. “That would be a very serious breach of journalistic ethics,” Mr. Landler told me by phone.

Earlier, in an email, he wrote: “No, I would NEVER cut a deal like that. My use of the word muscular may have reflected a lack of originality, but it did not reflect collusion

Juxtaposition
Juxtaposition

Gawker has more details of the transaction:

Hillary Clinton’s supporters often argue that mainstream political reporters are incapable of covering her positively—or even fairly. While it may be true that the political press doesn’t always write exactly what Clinton would like, emails recently obtained by Gawker offer a case study in how her prodigious and sophisticated press operation manipulates reporters into amplifying her desired message—in this case, down to the very word that The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder used to describe an important policy speech.

The emails in question, which were exchanged by Ambinder, then serving as The Atlantic’s politics editor, and Philippe Reines, Clinton’s notoriously combative spokesman and consigliere, turned up thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed in 2012 (and which we are currently suing the State Department over). The same request previously revealed that Politico’s chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, promised to deliver positive coverage of Chelsea Clinton, and, in a separate exchange, permitted Reines to ghost-write an item about the State Department for Politico’s Playbook newsletter. Ambinder’s emails with Reines demonstrate the same kind of transactional reporting, albeit to a much more legible degree: In them, you can see Reines “blackmailing” Ambinder into describing a Clinton speech as “muscular” in exchange for early access to the transcript. In other words, Ambinder outsourced his editorial judgment about the speech to a member of Clinton’s own staff.

(click here to continue reading This Is How Hillary Clinton Gets the Coverage She Wants.)

and finally:

Speaking of journalistic ethics and practices, it would have been decent of Breitbart’s reporter to reach Mr. Landler for comment before going the route of innuendo.

(click here to continue reading Times Reporter: ‘I Would Never Cut a Deal Like That’ – The New York Times.)

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, etc.

Breitbart is trash, to be blunt.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich

Carryout at 17 East Ohio
Carryout at 17 East Ohio…

Speaking of John Kasich, his path to the nomination seems unlikely, especially as more attention gets paid to him and his teeth-grinding.

Last summer Elizabeth Nolan Brown wrote:

If you talk to Ohioans—and Ohio is my home state, so I do—you’ll find that most people don’t really like Kasich, not even Republicans. They might like his stance on spending, or taxes, or abortion, but Kasich himself? Arrogant. Condescending. Manipulative. 

In Politico …, Alex Isenstadt explores what he calls Kasich’s “anger management problem.”

Kasich has “a resume seemingly tailor-made for a serious run for the Republican nomination: blue-collar upbringing, congressional budget hawk, Fox News commentator, investment banker, successful two-term governor of Ohio,” writes Isenstadt. “But there’s just one problem, according to interviews with dozens of those who’ve worked in politics alongside him at various points over the last several decades: his short fuse.” Isenstadt collects myriad, anonymous examples of people (including wealthy donors) that Kasich has pissed off with his prickly personality. Even Sen. John McCain—not exactly known as a model of decorum and restraint—has spoken of Kasich’s “hair-trigger temper.”

Kasich’s crew is trying to play this potential liability as a sign of the governor’s authenticity and willingness to call the proverbial spade a spade, something they say voters will recognize and appreciate. I guess we’ll see. There’s no doubt that shtick plays well with the GOP base (see Bush the second) but Kasich’s particular brand of brimstone seems more pouty narcissist than rhetorical rebel or iconoclast

(click here to continue reading The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich – Hit & Run : Reason.com.)

and she concludes:

The thing about John Kasich is, he’s kind of a jerk,” wrote Molly Ball at The Atlantic in April. It’s quick becoming the conventional wisdom about Kasich—whom, Ball informs us, has a Machiavelli quote pinned to his office wall.

I spent several days with Kasich in Ohio in February, and during that time he told me, repeatedly, that he did not read The Atlantic—and his wife didn’t, either. He said that my job, writing about politics and politicians, was “really a dumb thing to do.” … At a Kasich press conference I attended at a charter school in Cleveland, he interrupted several speakers, wandered off to rummage on a nearby teacher’s desk as he was being introduced, and gleefully insulted the Cleveland Browns, to a smattering of boos.

Kasich has previously said that he does not read Ohio newspapers, either (they don’t provide him with an “uplifting experience”). 

Kasich may have been “the Paul Ryan of his day” when he was in Washington, but perhaps the reform-minded yet combative upstart who won’t take no for an answer has a shelf life. Politicians are supposed to evolve and become more effective with time, and what can be admirable and ambitious at 40 just seems immature, churlish, and curmudgeonly by 63.  

(click here to continue reading The Unbearable Smugness of John Kasich – Hit & Run : Reason.com.)

(more on that weird claim not to read newspapers in Ohio via Vince Grzegorek)

The governor of Ohio doesn’t read Ohio newspapers.

That’s fact, straight from the mouth of John Kasich himself. The exact quote: “I don’t read newspapers in the State of Ohio.”

We’ll forgive his feeble grasp on the English language and assume he didn’t mean that he doesn’t read newspapers while he’s physically within the geographic boundaries of Ohio, and that he really meant he doesn’t read newspapers that are based in Ohio.

One could infer from the wording that he at least reads some newspapers, just not ones headquartered in the Buckeye State, but that’s still a flabbergasting statement.

Why doesn’t he read them? Via Ohio Capital Blog and Plunderbund, it’s because it doesn’t give him an “uplifting experience.”

(click here to continue reading John Kasich Doesn’t Read Ohio Newspapers | Scene and Heard: Scene’s News Blog | Cleveland Scene.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

New Hampshire Primary 2016 Is Over

http://i1.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1501/24308034364_571001a978.jpg?resize=500%2C260&ssl=1

The first primary of the 2016 campaign is officially over, and let the spin begin. Well, 92% counted, as of this moment, but close enough to finished to call. Despite the breathless nature of most political commentary, the race for the nomination for either party is far from over.

New Hampshire Primary Results

 

A few tidbits of interest, beginning with good news re: Democratic turnout. Well good news for Bernie Sanders, anyway…

Sanders has already cleared one hurdle that no Democratic insurgent in past presidential contests has managed: He’s become the party’s beer-track candidate, at least among white voters. In past election contests, stretching from Eugene McCarthy in 1968 to Barack Obama in 2008, the underdog outsiders won the support of the young and the upscale, but couldn’t gain a majority of the working-class vote. Sanders, by contrast, won the vote of lower income caucus attendees in Iowa, and in New Hampshire, he ran strongest among voters with annual incomes beneath $30,000, and beat Clinton handily, though with declining margins, up to the $200,000-plus category, where she prevailed by 7 percentage points.

The age gap between the two candidates’ supporters was so vast that that could have affected the outcome among income categories, as voters under 30 invariably have lower incomes than their elders. What’s particularly impressive about Sanders’s support from young voters is less his immense margins of victory—he won 82 percent of voters under 25 and 85 percent of voters between 25 and 29—and more the level of their turnout. Voters under 30 constituted 19 percent of the Democratic turnout on Tuesday, while voters 65 and older constituted 17 percent—a notable reversal of normal voter participation levels, and clear testament to Sanders’s ability to mobilize the young.

(click here to continue reading The Establishment Tanks.)

and the myth of the Bernie Bros:

If you follow Matt Bruenig at all, you’d know by now that the idea of the “Bernie Bro” is a complete myth. Indeed, poll after poll shows that the perceived “gender” gap is really nothing more than an age gap. Sanders polls much better than Clinton with young women. It’s like this entire primary is just old Democrats telling young Democrats to get off their lawn. 

So, Sanders was recently forced to condemn mean sexist people on the internet. Yet, as Gloria Steinem says that young women support Bernie because they are just boy crazy, Clinton is not called to condemn her sexist supporters. And when Madeline Albright tells people that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other out,” Clinton does not apologize. In fact, she just laughed. 

(click here to continue reading WOW. Before the “Bernie Bro,” Clinton supporters created the “Obama boy.” No, seriously..)

Chanukah 7 Candles

But is it good for the Jews?

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday became the first Jewish candidate in history to win a presidential primary election, setting off a familiar mixture of celebration and anxiety among Jews in the United States and abroad, who pondered what his milestone victory meant for the broader Jewish community.

(click here to continue reading As Bernie Sanders Makes History, Jews Wonder What It Means – The New York Times.)

 Recycled Robot
Recycled Robot

Josh Marshall thinks Marcobot Rubio is done:

I believe we can say with a reasonably high level of confidence that Marco Rubio’s quest for the presidency is over. I don’t expect he realizes it yet. I don’t expect he’ll drop out any time soon. But a broad appraisal of the fundamentals should tell us fairly clearly that the end is only a matter of time. Late on Saturday evening I started to think if I could remember a debate where one candidate had damaged another candidate quite that badly in a single encounter. The only instance that came to mind was Lloyd Bentsen’s notorious “you’re no Jack Kennedy” assault on Dan Quayle in 1988.

But on reflection I realized that Christie’s evisceration of Rubio was worse.

His campaign team seems to realize just how badly that trust has been damaged. As he did in his concession speech tonight, in an overnight email to supporters Rubio said he “dropped the ball” and promised that it would “never happen again.”

But it’s hardly the first time. There was of course the notorious if rather trivial water bottle grab during his 2013 State of the Union response. But that was followed by his far more consequential immigration reform gambit.

Rubio embraced the post-2012 RNC “autopsy” and put himself forward as a charismatic young Hispanic legislator who would both buck and deliver his party for comprehensive immigration reform, setting himself up for a presidential run in 2016 and at least mitigating the GOP’s historic and mounting estrangement from the country’s rapidly growing Hispanic minority.

It was a bold and audacious move at which he failed utterly.

Indeed, more than simply fail, he completely abandoned his own position in the process of failing. By last fall he was reduced to referring to his own bill as something that somehow happened to him and explaining its current irrelevance as somehow having something to do with ISIS. Again and again, Rubio seems to choke at key moments – sometimes in trivial and comical ways and at other times more monumentally.

(click here to continue reading Strong Horse, Weak Horse.)

A New Way Of Living
A New Way Of Living

seems like even the Rubiobot’s campaign staff knew the gig was up:

After video circulated online Tuesday showing Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) New Hampshire chairman locked in a physical altercation with a protester dressed as a robot, the political organizer behind the stunt said in a phone interview with TPM that the tussle was unprovoked.

Aaron Black, a progressive activist, said in a phone interview that he had no idea the man who grabbed him at a event on the day of the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary was Cliff Hurst, Rubio’s state campaign chair.

“I just felt his hands and arms around my neck,” Black told TPM. “I asked, ‘Why are you putting your hands on me?’”

In the video, Hurst can be seen grabbing Black, who’s toting a homemade “ROBOT RUBIO” sign, around the neck in an effort to drag him away from where Rubio was speaking while others attempt to force Black from the area with massive campaign signs.

Black told TPM he asked Hurst, “Do you realize all these cameras are here and it doesn’t look good?” before the chairman released him and walked over to shake hands with Rubio.

 

(click here to continue reading ‘Robot’ Activist On Tussle With Rubio Campaign Chair: He Put His Hands On My Neck!.)

Chris Christie didn’t move up much in the polls after his Rubio-bot interaction though:

After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the state upon which he had staked his presidential bid, Gov. Chris Christie is heading home to New Jersey on Wednesday to weigh his options for the future of his campaign.

The governor had originally planned to fly to South Carolina to attend a forum, saying Tuesday morning that he had already booked a plane ticket. But his showing led him to change his plans as the vote totals came in Tuesday night.

“We’re going to go home to New Jersey tomorrow, and we’re going to take a deep breath,” he told supporters, adding that he and his family “will make a decision on our next step forward based on the results that come in here in New Hampshire.”

Mr. Christie spoke in a solemn tone, and his wife, Mary Pat, at one point wiped her eyes. But true to his campaign slogan of “telling it like it is,” Mr. Christie spoke pragmatically about his situation.

(click here to continue reading Chris Christie Heads for Home to Reassess – The New York Times.)

And like every presidential election cycle, some are speculating that there will be a brokered convention, for reals this time:

New Hampshire sure left its mark on the GOP race by decisively reshaping it from a three-man race into a five-man race: Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump. Essentially, none of the “mainstream” (to use that word loosely) candidates has emerged as a serious challenger to Trump and Cruz, which means the GOP is likely looking at a very very long nomination fight, reports Alexander Burns:

Michael O. Leavitt, a former governor of Utah and a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, said he believed the window for any Republican candidate to clinch the nomination before the party’s convention in Cleveland this summer was rapidly closing.

Mr. Leavitt, who has not endorsed a candidate in the race, said he had reviewed the delegate allocation rules for every state and concluded that Mr. Trump would have to capture about 45 percent of the popular vote to win a majority of delegates for the convention. Mr. Trump has not approached that threshold in the polls so far, and Mr. Leavitt said no other candidate was likely to do so as long as so many of them remained in the race. “It will be difficult for him to be a breakaway front-runner,” Mr. Leavitt said of Mr. Trump. “There are a lot of candidates that have staying power, whether it’s by living off the land or a ‘super PAC’ or a combination.”

(click here to continue reading The odds for a GOP brokered convention just got way better.)

Happy-go-lucky
Happy-go-lucky

John Kasich is the sanest Republican candidate, but I agree with John Ellis Bush! Bush’s assertion: the path for Kasich is tenuous at best.

As primary results trickled in Tuesday evening, Jeb Bush’s campaign made the case that that the former Florida governor is well-positioned for a strong showing in South Carolina — a state where Granite State second-place finisher John Kasich has no viable path. Calling Kasich the “leading Republican advocate for expanding Obamacare” and pointing to the Ohio governor’s past cuts to defense spending, Tim Miller, spokesman for Bush, told reporters: “He doesn’t have a constituency past New Hampshire. He does not have a viable path to the nomination, and he certainly does not have a viable path in South Carolina.”

(click here to continue reading Bush Campaign: John Kasich Has No Path To The Nomination – BuzzFeed News.)

though of course Kasich is happy to keep trudging on. Well, skipping tra-la-la perhaps:

“Tonight, John Kasich is the story coming out of New Hampshire,” John Sununu, a former US senator from the state, declared as he introduced the Ohio governor to a packed ballroom of supporters here in Concord. The crowded risers at the back of the room, lined with TV cameras and photographers, attested to the shifting narrative created by Kasich’s surprise second-place finish in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.

Kasich himself seemed slightly shell-shocked by how well he had performed, after initially laboring in “totally obscurity” as he criss-crossed New Hampshire to introduce himself to voters. “There’s something that’s going on that I’m not sure that anybody can quite understand,” he said when he took the podium. “There’s magic in the air with this campaign. Something big happened tonight.” The question for the Kasich campaign, which has focused its resources heavily on New Hampshire, with the candidate holding nearly 190 events in the state, is what comes next? South Carolina, with its base of religious conservative voters, is not considered Kasich country. And more than a month will elapse between his strong New Hampshire finish and the contest in his native Ohio.

Kasich has run a positive if deeply introspective campaign. “We never went negative because we have more good to sell than to spend our time being critical,” he said, adding, “Tonight the light overcame the darkness.” His message of hope and healing—he has repeatedly urged his supporters to “just slow down” and listen to others—has seemed out of place in a race that has been dominated by a candidate, Donald Trump, who has thrived on divisiveness.

(click here to continue reading John Kasich: “Slow Down” and Put on Your Seatbelt | Mother Jones.)

Stephen Colbert paid homage to the Ben Carson debate entrance:

Written by Seth Anderson

February 10th, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with

Your Silent Sorrows In Empty Rooms was uploaded to Flickr

River North at night

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/Dm2ja8

I took Your Silent Sorrows In Empty Rooms on July 04, 2011 at 03:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 07, 2016 at 01:32PM

Written by eggplant

February 7th, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Cyanotype, Photography’s Blue Period, Is Making a Comeback

Lake Street Bridge During A Blizzard
Lake Street Bridge During A Blizzard – toned blue.

I’ve made digital cyanotypes as long as I’ve used the Alien Skin “Exposure” plugin for Photoshop, but I’ve never made an actual one. The faux, digital versions are much different than actual cyanotypes. I’m intrigued though, the emotional impact of a blue-toned photograph is compelling.

The Phoenix artist Annie Lopez wanted to stand out among her contemporary peers. Instead of trying to invent something utterly new, she has been turning to a 174-year-old photographic printing process — cyanotypes, once used for copying architectural drawings — and giving it her own distinctive twist.

Making a cyanotype involves placing a negative image — which could be a photographic negative, or an object, as in a photogram — on treated paper or fabric. (Ms. Lopez took from her own life and her father’s battle with Alzheimer’s, using photocopies of medical books as well as comments made by family members.) After an iron-based solution is brushed on, the paper is placed under ultraviolet light, or in direct sun, to develop.

“One of the best-selling points of this exhibition is that cyanotypes are both underrepresented and trendy at the same time,” said Nancy Burns, who organized the Worcester show with Kristina Wilson of Clark University. “It’s very hip in contemporary art, when you start looking for it.”

The cyanotype process — from the Greek cyan, or “dark-blue impression” — was invented around 1842 by the British astronomer and chemist John Frederick Herschel (1792–1871). The benefits of the format were evident from the start.

(click here to continue reading Cyanotype, Photography’s Blue Period, Is Making a Comeback – The New York Times.)

I’ve also heard cyanotypes called “sun prints”:

Maybe you remember sun prints (also known as cyanotypes) from childhood. You set a leaf or flower on light-sensitive paper and exposed it to the sunlight for a few minutes. Your parent or teacher probably rinsed the print and showed you the results as they developed. A shadow of the specimen emerged—the color of the paper shifted from white to light blue. The final result was a white or bluish-white silhouette on dark blue paper.

When I first started paying attention to cyanotypes, I loved how they rendered familiar objects and shapes as bluish, shadowy abstractions. I also wondered why they reminded me of x-rays or architectural drawings. A description of the cyanotype process from Encyclopaedia Britannica shed some light.

(click here to continue reading Celebrated Summer: Making Sun Prints with Transparencies | Britannica Blog.)

Like I said, I’ve never made an actual cyanotype, yet. The images on this post are simply “toned blue” as a reminder to myself1 that I need to make a real cyanotype. 

Loren Squints Blue
Loren Squints Blue

You’ve Got Everything, Polapan Blue
You’ve Got Everything, Polapan Blue

Across The Evening Sky All The Birds Are Leaving - Copper Blue
Across The Evening Sky All The Birds Are Leaving – Copper Blue

Just A Restless Feeling By My Side
Just A Restless Feeling By My Side

Minister of Design and The Future, Blue
Minister of Design and The Future, Blue

Take the Blue Train
Take the Blue Train

Thistled and Scorned
Thistled and Scorned

Empty Blue Number 2
Empty Blue Number 2

Phil Looks Cold - Blue
Phil Looks Cold – Blue

Footnotes:
  1. like so much of my blog []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 7th, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Arts

Tagged with ,

America And Lead Poisoned Water

When Thinking Leads To The Unthinkable
When Thinking Leads To The Unthinkable…

Scary, and even more reason we should dial back our military adventures, and instead invest in our infrastructure lest we kill ourselves…

“Lead in Flint is the tip of the iceberg,” notes Dr. Richard J. Jackson, former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Flint is a teachable moment for America.”

In Flint, 4.9 percent of children tested for lead turned out to have elevated levels. That’s inexcusable. But in 2014 in New York State outside of New York City, the figure was 6.7 percent. In Pennsylvania, 8.5 percent. On the west side of Detroit, one-fifth of the children tested in 2014 had lead poisoning. In Iowa for 2012, the most recent year available, an astonishing 32 percent of children tested had elevated lead levels. (I calculated most of these numbers from C.D.C. data.)

Across America, 535,000 children ages 1 through 5 suffer lead poisoning, by C.D.C. estimates.

“We are indeed all Flint,” says Dr. Philip Landrigan, a professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Lead poisoning continues to be a silent epidemic in the United States.”

(click here to continue reading America Is Flint – The New York Times.)

Declining Issues
Declining Issues

and this short-sighted austerity by Congress is just sickening:

Some 24 million homes in America have deteriorated lead paint, of which occupants are often unaware. If a toddler regularly breathes lead-contaminated dust, or sucks a finger that has touched the dust, that child may suffer lifelong brain damage.

Yet anti-lead programs have been dismantled in recent years because in 2012 Congress slashed the funding for lead programs at the C.D.C. by 93 percent. After an outcry, some money was restored, but even now these lead programs have only a bit more than half the funding they once had.

 Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

I’ve owned a reverse osmosis water filtration system for a long time, but it only cleans my drinking/cooking water, not the water in my entire house. How about you?

If it is not possible or cost-effective to remove the lead source, flushing the water system before using the water for drinking or cooking may be an option. Any time a particular faucet has not been used for several hours (approximately 6 or more), you can flush the system by running the water for about 1-2 minutes or until the water becomes as cold as it will get. Flush each faucet individually before using the water for drinking or cooking. You can use the water flushed from the tap to water plants, wash dishes or clothing, or clean. Avoid cooking with or drinking hot tap water because hot water dissolves lead more readily than cold water does. Do not use hot tap water to make cereals, drinks or mix baby formula. You may draw cold water after flushing the tap and then heat it if needed.

You may also wish to consider water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, distillation, and carbon filters specially designed to remove lead. Typically these methods are used to treat water at only one faucet. Contact your local health department for recommended procedures. If you want to know more about these filters, please contact NSF International, an organization for public health and safety through standards development, product certification, education, and risk management. Remember to have your well water tested regularly, at least once a year, to make sure the problem is controlled.

(click here to continue reading CDC – Lead and Drinking Water from Private Wells – Wells – Private Water Systems – Drinking Water – Healthy Water.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 7th, 2016 at 11:53 am

Posted in government,health

Tagged with ,

Airlines Reap Record Profits, and Passengers Get Peanuts

Luggage Cars ORD
Luggage Cars ORD

There are real consequences to corporations constantly consolidating, and becoming de facto monopolies in particular markets. Cable/internet companies are one such example, and so are airlines. Most routes are served by one or two airlines, so there isn’t a push towards lowering ticket prices to capture market share. Instead, the airlines just give executives big bonuses…

Helped by falling oil prices, airlines are reporting record profits, but for many passengers this sudden bonanza has meant little more than extra bags of free peanuts and pretzels.

The four biggest domestic carriers — American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — together earned about $22 billion in profits last year, a stunning turnaround after a decade of losses, bankruptcies and cutbacks. A big reason for this is the plunging price of jet fuel, which now costs only a third of what it did just two years ago.

But that windfall is only slowly finding its way down the aisles. Days after reporting record profits, for instance, two of the nation’s biggest airlines brought back free snacks in coach.

United said it would begin serving complimentary stroopwafels, which it described as “Dutch-made toasted waffle treats,” and American said it would offer free meals in economy class on flights between Dallas and Hawaii, and free snacks on all domestic flights.

Airfares, however, have remained stubbornly high.

(click here to continue reading Airlines Reap Record Profits, and Passengers Get Peanuts – The New York Times.)

Chicago At Night, Number 553
Chicago At Night, Number 553

Written by Seth Anderson

February 7th, 2016 at 11:35 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with

Nonreligious Americans Are Not Properly Represented By Government

Getchyer Kitschhere
Getchyer Kitschhere.

Americans who are not religious have long been marginalized and ignored by politicians. And yet our numbers keep growing. When will the nonreligious get a representative who respects us? The opposite of Christian Taliban like Ted Cruz, in other words…

Susan Jacoby writes:

THE population of nonreligious Americans — including atheists, agnostics and those who call themselves “nothing in particular” — stands at an all-time high this election year. Americans who say religion is not important in their lives and who do not belong to a religious group, according to the Pew Research Center, have risen in numbers from an estimated 21 million in 2008 to more than 36 million now.

Despite the extraordinary swiftness and magnitude of this shift, our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful. The presumption is that candidates have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their obsequious attitude toward orthodox religion and ignoring the growing population of those who make up a more secular America.

The question is not why nonreligious Americans vote for these candidates — there is no one on the ballot who full-throatedly endorses nonreligious humanism — but why candidates themselves ignore the growing group of secular voters.

Never Seems To Smile
Never Seems To Smile

 

Freedom of conscience for all — which exists only in secular democracies — should be at the top of the list of shared concerns. Candidates who rightly denounce the persecution of Christians by radical Islamists should be ashamed of themselves for not expressing equal indignation at the persecution of freethinkers and atheists, as well as dissenting Muslims and small religious sects, not only by terrorists but also by theocracies like Saudi Arabia. With liberal religious allies, it would be easier for secularists to hold candidates to account when they talk as if freedom of conscience is a human right only for the religious.

Even more critical is the necessity of reclaiming the language of religious freedom from the far right. As defined by many pandering politicians, “religious freedom” is in danger of becoming code for accepting public money while imposing faith-based values on others.

Secularists must hold candidates to account when they insult secular values, whether that means challenging them in town hall meetings or withholding donations. Why, for example, would any secular Republican (yes, there are some) think of supporting the many Republican politicians who have denied the scientific validity of evolution? Politicians will continue to ignore secular Americans until they are convinced that there is a price to be paid for doing so.

“God bless America” has become the standard ending of every major political speech. Just once in my life, I would like the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who ends his or her appeals with Thomas Paine’s observation that “the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.”

(click here to continue reading Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America’ – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Fetishizing of Super Bowl ads

Gordon's crisp Potato Sticks
Gordon’s crisp Potato Sticks

Amusingly, Phil Rosenthal agrees with me re: Super Bowl ads being over-rated.1

It’s not Super Bowl commercials I mind. I’ve actually liked a lot of them. I’ve enjoyed disliking others. My objection is how they’ve become fetishized.

Though they sell beer, cars, junk food and sundry other everyday items, services and ideas, we’ve been conditioned to treat them as something between objets d’art and Adam Sandler comedies.

Perhaps adored, perhaps abhorred, they’re tough to completely ignore.

It’s as if the fact that some marketer spent $5 million per half minute — up about 11 percent from $4.5 million last year — to pitch more than 100 million of us in the Super Bowl 50 audience obliges us to actually pay attention.

That attention, as reliable as the way we always dote on anthropomorphic animals year after year, in turn, helps justify the $166,666.67-per-second price, production costs not included.

Somewhere along the line, someone — maybe Don Draper, maybe Darrin Stephens — pitched Americans on the idea that television commercials are as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the game itself, and we bought it.

The queasy feeling that too many salty, fatty foodstuffs bring by the third quarter is as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the game too. But we’re not carpet-bombed with previews and reviews, encouraged to experience it repeatedly before and after the game and invited to try an extended and more intense version.

(click here to continue reading Fetishizing of Super Bowl ads: How much is too much? – Chicago Tribune.)

Doped Youth
Doped Youth

Should we be impressed by advertising just because it costs a lot to air? And create? Especially since so few ads are even worthy of our attention. Some are even worth our disgust, like:

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) is hitting us again at the Super Bowl. This time with “All American Girl” – an ad that’s supposed to show that you should care about heroin abuse because it affects pretty white girls, too.

But, of course, the ad then doesn’t show what you do when someone is having a problem with heroin – it lets them just wander off in the distance. No, this is just another one of those frying-pan scared-straight attempts at prevention that have been shown historically to not work.

(click here to continue reading Another SuperBad Advertisement « Drug WarRant.)

Footnotes:
  1. and for the record, I didn’t read this essay until just now []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Advertising,Sports

Tagged with