B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Investment in Science Helps A Nation

Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds
Transitive Nightfall of Diamonds

The United States should spend less on building aircraft carriers, less on tax breaks for the wealthy, and for corporations like General Electric and ExxonMobil and more on projects like this:

A rocket that shot skyward from the Gobi Desert early Tuesday is expected to propel China to the forefront of one of science’s most challenging fields.

It also is set to launch Beijing far ahead of its global rivals in the drive to acquire a highly coveted asset in the age of cyberespionage: hack-proof communications.

Aboard the Micius satellite is encryption technology that, if successful, could propel China to the forefront of hack-proof communications. Professor Hoi Fung Chau of Hong Kong University explains how quantum physics can be used to frustrate hackers. State media said China sent the world’s first quantum-communications satellite into orbit from a launch center in Inner Mongolia about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. Five years in the making, the project is being closely watched in global scientific and security circles.

The quantum program is the latest part of China’s multibillion-dollar strategy over the past two decades to draw even with or surpass the West in hard-sciences research.

“There’s been a race to produce a quantum satellite, and it is very likely that China is going to win that race,” said Nicolas Gisin, a professor and quantum physicist at the University of Geneva. “It shows again China’s ability to commit to large and ambitious projects and to realize them.”

Scientists in the U.S., Europe, Japan and elsewhere are rushing to exploit the strange and potentially powerful properties of subatomic particles, but few with as much state support as those in China, researchers say. Quantum technology is a top strategic focus in the country’s five-year economic development plan, released in March.

Beijing hasn’t disclosed how much money it has allocated to quantum research or to building the 1,400-pound satellite. But funding for basic research, which includes quantum physics, was $101 billion in 2015, up from $1.9 billion in 2005.

U.S. federal funding for quantum research is about $200 million a year, according to a congressional report in July by a group of science, defense, intelligence and other officials. 

It said development of quantum science would “enhance U.S. national security,” but said fluctuations in funding had set back progress.

 

(click here to continue reading China’s Latest Leap Forward Isn’t Just Great—It’s Quantum – WSJ.)

In other words, Congressional disfunction, partisanship and misguided priorities are stymieing the United States. 

Written by Seth Anderson

August 16th, 2016 at 9:44 am

Posted in government,science

Tagged with ,

The Colors Cannot Change You was uploaded to Flickr

Random Austin hipsters at Hope Outdoor Gallery

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/K65vnf

I took The Colors Cannot Change You on January 18, 2016 at 07:14AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 26, 2016 at 10:19AM

Written by eggplant

July 26th, 2016 at 10:16 am

Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton So Much

 Planet Hillary

Planet Hillary.

Here is a question I’ve discussed with a lot of people, and never found a satisfying answer to: why do so many Americans despise Hillary Clinton? What is the cause of it? Is it her personality? Her policy stances? Her DNA? Her microbiome? What?

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been an enthusiastic Clinton supporter, not in the 1990s, not in 2008, nor in the current election cycle. However, I don’t consider her evil, and would never use such strong language as hatred toward her. I’ve often considered the rabid, slanderous attacks on her as the beginning of the end of our country’s bipartisan consensus. Fox News, the Vulgar Pigboy, the Short Fingered Vulgarian and all their friends and cohorts first honed their falsehood machine attacking Hillary Clinton – the so-called Vast Right Wing Conspiracy did and does exist.

Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby - Official Photo
Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby – Official Photo

Michelle Goldberg explores in greater depth:

In 1996, the New Yorker published “Hating Hillary,” Henry Louis Gates’ reported piece on the widespread animosity for the then–First Lady. “Like horse-racing, Hillary-hating has become one of those national pastimes which unite the élite and the lumpen,” Gates wrote. “[T]here’s just something about her that pisses people off,” the renowned Washington hostess Sally Quinn told Gates. “This is the reaction that she elicits from people.”

 It might seem as though nothing much has changed in 20 years. Many people disliked Hillary Clinton when she first emerged onto the political scene, and many people dislike her now. She is on track to become the least popular Democratic nominee in modern history, although voters like Donald Trump even less.

But over the last two decades, the something that pisses people off has changed. Speaking to Gates, former Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan described “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” in Clinton that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects.” Noonan saw in Clinton “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.”

Noonan’s view was a common one. Take, for example, Michael Kelly’s 1993 New York Times Magazine profile, mockingly titled “Saint Hillary.” “Since she discovered, at the age of 14, that for people less fortunate than herself the world could be very cruel, Hillary Rodham Clinton has harbored an ambition so large that it can scarcely be grasped,” Kelly wrote. “She would like to make things right. She is 45 now and she knows that the earnest idealisms of a child of the 1960s may strike some people as naive or trite or grandiose. But she holds to them without any apparent sense of irony or inadequacy.” Kelly’s piece painted Clinton as a moralist, a meddler, a prig.

Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.

Some who loathe Clinton see her as the living embodiment of avarice and deception. These Clinton haters take at face value every charge Republicans have ever hurled at her, as well as dark accusations that circulate online. They have the most invidious possible explanation for Whitewater, the dubious real estate deal that served as a pretext for endless Republican investigations of the Clintons in the 1990s. (Clinton was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, though one of her business partners, James McDougal, went to prison for fraud in a related case.) Sometimes they believe that Clinton murdered her former law partner, Vince Foster, who committed suicide in 1993. They hold her responsible for the deadly attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Peter Schweizer’s new book Clinton Cash has convinced them that there was a corrupt nexus between Clinton’s State Department, various foreign governments, and the Clinton family’s foundation. Most of Schweizer’s allegations have either been disproven or shown to be unsubstantiated, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from invoking them repeatedly. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he accused Clinton of raking in “millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers.”

(click here to continue reading The people who hate Hillary Clinton the most..)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 26th, 2016 at 8:29 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Is Trump Complicit in Attacks?

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine.

Look, I hope this is not true, and just a figment of my febrile, over-caffeinated mind, but think about this: how many times has a politician or public figure made a huge deal about something that later it turned out they themselves were doing? How many televangelists railing against homosexuality have later been outed as gay? How many times has a teabagger made a claim that really was about themselves? How many times did Bill Cosby criticize fornicators?

After reading Jane Mayer’s piece on Trump and his machinations and duplicitous personality, is it really so far fetched of an idea that Donald Trump and some of his mobster friends are hiring or manipulating hitmen to target police? I would not be shocked to find evidence of this in 2020 or even sooner. 

Last month, as the nation was grieving the mass murder of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, offered his own analysis of what had led the gunman, Omar Mateen, to open fire. “We’re led by a man who is very—look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said , theorizing as to the real reason President __Barack Obama has not used the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” “There’s something going on.” Those four words returned again this week in the wake of another tragedy—this time, the killing of three police officers by a black shooter in Baton Rouge over the weekend—when the billionaire recycled the same phrase to hint yet again that the Democratic president of the United States might have somehow been involved.

“YOU JUST LOOK AT THE BODY LANGUAGE AND THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON, THERE IS SOMETHING GOING ON.”

“I watch the president and sometimes the words are okay but you just look at the body language and there is something going on, there is something going on,” Trump said Monday in an interview with “Fox and Friends,” when asked to comment on the assertion made by Steve Loomis, the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, that Obama has “blood on his hands” in the aftermath of the Baton Rouge shooting and another attack by a black gunman on police in Dallas earlier this month. Pressed to explain what he meant, Trump continued, “There is just a bad feeling, a lot of bad feeling about him.”

While the real-estate mogul has long played into right-wing conspiracy theories about the nation’s first black president, Trump’s racial dog whistle has in recent weeks grown louder and more explicit. In June, after Trump came under fire for suggesting that Obama didn’t use the term “radical Islamic terror” because he sympathizes with America’s enemies, the G.O.P. nominee revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials for what he called a “dishonest” headline about his comments. Shortly thereafter, however, he doubled down on his insinuation by tweeting a Breitbart story in support of his outlandish claims.

(click here to continue reading Trump Again Suggests that Obama Is Complicit in Attacks | Vanity Fair.)

Just saying I hope it isn’t true because police shouldn’t be pawns in Donald Trump’s vanity campaign for emperor. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:58 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Trump’s Boswell Tony Schwartz Would Rename Book to The Sociapath

Spy Magazine - Donald Trump - Trumps final days
Spy Magazine – Donald Trump – Trump’s final days.

Tony Schwartz, the actual author of Trump’s opus, The Art of the Deal, has a few regrets about writing the book, and feels strongly that Donald Trump is a sociopathic bully who should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes of the United States. I’ve never read the book, but apparently it was a sensation that put Trump on the national stage for the first time.

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker interviews him:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.

In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

At the same time, he knew that if he took Trump’s money and adopted Trump’s voice his journalism career would be badly damaged. His heroes were such literary nonfiction writers as Tom Wolfe, John McPhee, and David Halberstam. Being a ghostwriter was hackwork. In the end, though, Schwartz had his price. He told Trump that if he would give him half the advance and half the book’s royalties he’d take the job.

Such terms are unusually generous for a ghostwriter. Trump, despite having a reputation as a tough negotiator, agreed on the spot. “It was a huge windfall,” Schwartz recalls. “But I knew I was selling out. Literally, the term was invented to describe what I did.” Soon Spy was calling him “former journalist Tony Schwartz.”

(click here to continue reading Trump’s Boswell Speaks – The New Yorker.)

Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

Trump sounds even more petulant and without inner life than former president George W Bush, if that’s possible. Trump’s only concern is himself, and lies, manipulations, exaggerations, bullying, whining are all part of plastering over the empty hole in the middle of Trump.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

But Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

Other journalists have noticed Trump’s apparent lack of interest in reading. In May, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, asked him to name his favorite book, other than the Bible or “The Art of the Deal.” Trump picked the 1929 novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since he’d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book he’d read. “I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters—I don’t have the time,” Trump said. As The New Republic noted recently, this attitude is not shared by most U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, a habitual consumer of current books, and George W. Bush, who reportedly engaged in a fiercely competitive book-reading contest with his political adviser Karl Rove.

Trump’s first wife, Ivana, famously claimed that Trump kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in a cabinet beside his bed. In 1990, Trump’s friend Marty Davis, who was then an executive at Paramount, added credence to this story, telling Marie Brenner, of Vanity Fair, that he had given Trump the book. “I thought he would find it interesting,” Davis told her. When Brenner asked Trump about it, however, he mistakenly identified the volume as a different work by Hitler: “Mein Kampf.” Apparently, he had not so much as read the title. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” Trump told Brenner.

I shudder to think of a Trump occupied Oval Office. Read the entire piece if you can spare a few moments, or if you know anyone who is considering voting for Donald Trump because he’s such a great business success…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Posted in Books,politics

Tagged with ,

Apple, in Seeming Jab at Spotify, Proposes Simpler Songwriting Royalties

The Music Kept Playing
The Music Kept Playing

More skirmishes in the continuing battle between corporate behemoths…

Apple, in a government filing on Friday, proposed simplifying the highly complex way that songwriting royalties are paid when it comes to on-demand streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

According to Apple’s proposal, made with the Copyright Royalty Board, a panel of federal judges who oversee rates in the United States, streaming services should pay 9.1 cents in songwriting royalties for every 100 times a song is played. This formula would replace the long passages of federal rules for streaming rates, which often leave musicians bewildered about just how the money flows in streaming music.

Apple’s filing was made as part of a proceeding by the Copyright Royalty Board to set statutory rates for downloads and interactive streaming services from 2018 to 2022. Spotify, Google, Pandora, Amazon and the Recording Industry Association of America were all expected to file their proposals by Friday, but the panel has not yet made the filings public.

Although the bulk of Apple’s proposal with the Copyright Royalty Board is confined to three brief paragraphs, it would have wide implications if it were adopted. Songwriting rates paid by interactive streaming services like Spotify are now governed by a byzantine system that includes a division between what are known as mechanical and performance royalties for the same songs. Apple’s proposal would cover all songwriting royalties with the same rate. (Royalties for recordings are accounted separately.)

What Apple does not say in its filing, however, is that the statutory rates it proposes would not apply to its own services. When the company introduced Apple Music last year, it struck direct deals with music publishers at rates that are slightly higher than usual.

(click here to continue reading Apple, in Seeming Jab at Spotify, Proposes Simpler Songwriting Royalties – The New York Times.)

Phil Entering Around Again Records
Phil Entering Around Again Records

Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora et al, do seem to rely upon underpaying artists, or figuring out schemes to avoid payment at all. If musicians cannot make a living creating music, there won’t be any, other than vanity projects, and top 40 bullshit. But then I’m a curmudgeon who still purchases all my music in hard-copy and don’t subscribe to any of these services.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 8:12 am

Posted in Apple,Music

Tagged with ,

GOP Senator Tillis Hasn’t Read The Constitution In A While, Or Ever

Oath
Oath

I know there isn’t a civics test a prospective Senator has to pass before running for office, but perhaps there should be.

Republicans have never made it easy for President Barack Obama to confirm judges. But Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) came up with a new reason the Senate shouldn’t be filling empty court seats: It’s not our job.

Democrats including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) made repeated requests Wednesday to confirm a batch of Obama’s judicial nominees who are ready for votes. Each time they tried, Tillis objected and suggested the Senate shouldn’t be spending time on judges.

“What we get are things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs,” he said. “I’m doing my job today and objecting to these measures so we can actually get back to pressing matters.”

It’s a weird thing to say since it is literally the Senate’s job to confirm judges, as spelled out in the Constitution. It’s also ironic that Tillis is the one saying this, given that he’s overseeing the longest federal court vacancy in the country. There’s been an empty seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina for 3,848 days, or 10.5 years.

(click here to continue reading GOP Senator: Confirming Obama’s Judges Has ‘Nothing To Do With Doing Our Jobs’.)

/Eye Roll!

For reference:

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the President of the United States to appoint certain public officials with the “advice and consent” of the U.S. Senate. This clause also allows lower-level officials to be appointed without the advice and consent process.

He (the President) shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Councils, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

 

(click here to continue reading Appointments Clause – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 15th, 2016 at 8:16 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

GWB Among the Worst US Presidents

Stop Bitching Start a Revolution
Stop Bitching Start a Revolution

Jean Edward Smith has a new biography of George W. Bush coming out soon. I’ll probably read it eventually, whenever I want to remember how horribly The Shrub screwed up the world…

Thomas Mallon of The New Yorker reviews the bio:

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” By the book’s last sentence, Smith is predicting a long debate over whether Bush “was the worst president in American history,” and while the biographer doesn’t vote on the question himself, the unhappy shade of James Buchanan will feel strongly encouraged by his more than six hundred pages.

Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas. On the morning of 9/11, Laura Bush was in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office, having come to testify for the No Child Left Behind Act; the White House she returned to later that day was a wholly different place, a domestic cruise ship that had become an aircraft carrier.

In Smith’s view, the military and moral calamities began right then. If he is moderately critical of the President for being “asleep at the switch” in the period before the terrorist attacks—Bush felt no particular alarm when an August 6th C.I.A. briefing indicated that Osama bin Laden was up to at least something—the biographer is simply aghast once Bush seizes the controls. Within three days of September 11th, he says, the President had acquired a “boundless” confidence that put the country on a “permanent war footing” and the White House into a “hothouse climate of the President’s certitude.”

In another anti-superlative, Smith suspects that the invasion of Iraq will “likely go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.” The thirteen-year legacy of “preëmption” makes this a hard prophecy to counter, and Smith’s well-ordered scenes on the subject—Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war against Saddam on September 12th, just as he’d been pushing for it in April—do dismaying work. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the wise men of his father’s Administration, tell Bush to go slowly or not at all, but George Tenet, the holdover C.I.A. director from the Clinton years, assures him that convincing the public of the need to invade Iraq over W.M.D.s will be a “slam dunk.” As persuasively as anyone before him, Smith presents a strong story of how a successful military mission quickly unaccomplished itself; turned into quite something else (“the United States was going to bring democracy to the country”); and then festered into what Donald Rumsfeld himself, in his memoirs, judged to be “a long and heavy-handed occupation.”

 

(click here to continue reading W Is for Why – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 9:13 am

GOP Platform Hypocrisies 2016 Edition

Peepshow
Peepshow

Another entry into the This Would Be Funny If It Wasn’t So Sad file, and also another entry into Aren’t The Culture Wars Already Over? curtesy of your local un-friendly GOP party platform writers. 

Via Amanda Marcotte:

While the final draft of the 2016 Republican platform won’t be finalized until next week, the drafting committee’s meeting is public and reporters have been sending out a steady stream of reports on platform items approved by the committee and therefore likely to be made the official party positions next week.

The list so far is a grab bag of right-wing obsessions, urban legends, and bigotries, one that would be comical if not for the depressing realization that a lot of people believe this nonsense. Marijuana, national parks, the IRS, and mythical electromagnetic pulses are all condemned in dramatic terms appropriate for signs of the apocalypse.

And, even though their presidential nominee is a thrice-married playboy who bragged on Howard Stern that avoiding STIs was his “personal Vietnam” — because of all the sleeping around, ha ha — the platform committee is extremely interested in policing what everyone else in the country is doing with their genitals. Cohabitation, homosexuality, abortion, even using the bathroom while trans: If it’s not hetero married sex performed in the dark no more than once a month for the reasons of procreation, they are probably against it.

And sorry, fellas, but as much as Republicans love male privilege, when it comes to the sex police, even your private habits are going on the Thou Shalt Not list. Porn, according to what will likely be the official GOP platform, has been declared a “public health crisis” and a “public menace.”

(click here to continue reading GOP war on porn: The same party that nominated a libertine for president is now calling your porn a “public health crisis” – Salon.com.)

Seems like Ted Cruz and his sour band of Christian Taliban won the primary after all. Sad!

The Devil and Pope
The Devil and Pope

Jack Holmes has a (partial) list of some of the horrors:

The Republican Party has always been against things. In Lincoln’s day, it was slavery; for the last seven years, it’s been a functioning federal government. But the Republican Party Platform, rewritten every four years before the party convention, is where things really run wild. That’s especially true this year, as presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump has stepped back to let the Ted Cruz-esque purists have their fun with the party’s official statement of principles. What follows is a list, likely non-comprehensive, of the things the GOP has declared itself against so far.

(Keep in mind, these are initiatives that have passed the platform subcommittees and are awaiting approval as a collective.)

(click here to continue reading Republican Platform – Things the Republican Party Is Against in 2016.)

Reefer songs
Reefer songs

like that oldie but goodie: reefer madness…

Even the medical kind. Among other reasons, ganja was linked to mass shootings (!):

RNC delegate: “All of the mass killings that have taken place, they’re young boys from divorced families and they’re all smoking pot.” — Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 11, 2016

(click here to continue reading Republican Platform – Things the Republican Party Is Against in 2016.)

You know, that evil weed, Cannabis:

Just days after the Democratic Party endorsed the rescheduling of cannabis and a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana, delegates with the Republican Party voted against a more conservative platform that would have endorsed medical marijuana.

At a GOP Platform Committee meeting in Cleveland, Republican delegates on Monday just said no to endorsing medical marijuana.

But a number of delegates rose in opposition to the measure. A member from Utah claimed scientists have a “long way to go with research” on marijuana and argued that studies, which she did not provide, showed a link between it and mental health issues.

Another delegate absurdly claimed that people who commit mass murders are “young boys from divorced families, and they’re all smoking pot.” Yet another delegate claimed marijuana triggered schizophrenia, and is funded nationally by Democrat and New York financier George Soros. “Let’s think a little bit what happens with Percocet, with OxyContin,” claimed a third delegate, who drew a connection between the ongoing heroin epidemic and teenagers smoking marijuana.

(click here to continue reading After Dems back rescheduling, GOP votes against medical marijuana.)

Homosexuals at Biograph
Homosexuals at Biograph

Gays, of course, and anything having to with civil rights, adoptions, etc.

Delegates added to the pile of hot-button topics by unanimously adopting an amendment that called pornography “a public health crisis” and “public menace” that is destroying lives. The measure went further than the 2012 GOP platform, which mainly focused on problems with child pornography.

FRC’s Perkins also succeeded in introducing an amendment to the platform affirming “the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children,” a reference to gay conversion therapy, which has been banned in a number of states.

(click here to continue reading GOP Platform Committee Bucks 21st Century, Reaffirms Anti-LGBT Stance.)

Even people like me, living in sin (i.e., unmarried) are targeted:

Meanwhile, on cultural issues, the committee showed no inclination to temper its traditional views. Multiple references to the horrors of abortion and the sanctity of human life were inserted; a reference to “aborted fetuses” was changed to “aborted children”; opposition to “policies and laws that create a financial incentive or encourage cohabitation” was adopted. “A traditional two-parent household” was deemed best for children, and women’s “exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions” was urged. (In a departure from 2012, however, the platform did not call for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage; it urged instead that an amendment allow states to determine their marriage laws.) The platform condemned the Obama administration’s “edict to the States concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities” for transgender people.

Tony Perkins, the head of the socially conservative Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana, pronounced himself exceedingly pleased with the result. “This is one of the most conservative platforms the party has ever had, and I didn’t think we could get more conservative than 2012, which was probably one of the most conservative platforms in our history,” he told me.

(click here to continue reading The Party of Donald Trump? – The Atlantic.)

6000 years ago
6000 years ago

Can’t forget the 6,000 Year Old Earthers, gotta give them a tickle:

Teach the Bible as literature: The committee labored for a long time on Monday over whether to encourage public schools to teach the Bible as a literature elective. Ultimately, they decided that yes, public schools should do that. And on the subject of education, the committee decided to take a stand against early childhood education because, as one delegate put it, it “inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life.” 

(click here to continue reading The Porn Crisis, Gay Conversion Therapy, and Other Notable Elements of the GOP Platform | Mother Jones.)

and:

On the subject of religion, the delegates have reportedly included an amendment calling for the Bible to be taught in schools as part of “American history.” Maybe the Garden of Eden really is in Missouri, after all?

GOP Platform amendment calls for teaching the Bible as part of “American history”

— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 11, 2016

(click here to continue reading GOP 2016 platform full of crazy ideas | Fusion.)

Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame
Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame

and the Christian Taliban basically are in control of the GOP:

And while Republicans continue to warn about the non-existent threat of Sharia Law, their platform insists that religious law isn’t an option—it’s required.

The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”

It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.” Who interprets God-given, natural rights? Conservatives, of course, and their interpretation presents an incredibly strict, incredibly narrow, and quite detailed picture of what it takes to be a Real American.

The Republicans: Preventing Sharia Law, by imposing Sharia Law.

(click here to continue reading The Republican platform hates gays, puts women back in the kitchen, and insists on religious law.)

You get the idea. Sheesh, what a bunch of twats. The head twat is Kris Kobach, who you’ve probably never heard of, but he has some plans for you and me:

For years, Kris Kobach has led an effort to pull the Republican Party to the conservative extreme. But in this election cycle — as evidenced by the platform pulled together by him and his fellow convention delegates in Cleveland this week — he doesn’t have a presidential candidate who is going to stand in the way.

The Kansas secretary of state was on the convention committee responsible for finalizing the proposed planks of the Republican party platform, which the full convention delegation will vote on next week. Normally, the process doesn’t get wide public attention because the platform is seen as little more than aspirational, something for party activists to rally around as they ramp up for the general election.

Enter Kobach, a Trump supporter with some experience pushing the Republican Party to the far right. With a nominee who has isn’t steeped in movement conservatism and doesn’t much seem to care, Kobach and conservatives on the committee appear to have had a long leash.

(click here to continue reading Forget Trump! The GOP’s Convention Platform Makes It The Party Of Kris Kobach.)

How any free-thinking person who believes in civil liberties could support the GOP in any form baffles my mind.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 8:43 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Rudy Giuliani – Professional Racist

What Up, G

What Up, G 

Rudy “9-11” Giuliani, one of the very worst mayors the city of New York has ever suffered through, makes a living these days partly by going on cable news to spew racist nonsense. His most recent rant is disgusting, even by his previous standards. When even a center-left establishment newspaper like the New York Times editorializes against Rudy G’s fact-free assertions, and hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh are supportive, hmmm…

For a nation heartsick over the killings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the ambush murders of officers by a gunman in Dallas, here comes Rudolph Giuliani, bringing his trademark brew of poisonous disinformation to the discussion.

In his view, the problem is black gangs, murderous black children, the refusal of black protesters to look in the mirror at their “racist” selves, and black parents’ failure to teach their children to respect the police.

“What we’ve got to hear from the black community,” said Mr. Giuliani, in a Sunday morning talk-show appearance that seemed to double as a lecture to black America, “is how and what they are doing among themselves about the crime problem in the black community.” He added, “We wonder, do black lives matter, or only the very few black lives that are killed by white policemen?”

Here’s a better question: How, we wonder, will the country ever get beyond its stunted discourse about racialized violence when people like Mr. Giuliani continue to try to change the subject? Those who remember Mr. Giuliani as the hectoring mayor of New York know what he has to offer any conversation on race and violence — not a lot. In case you’re unconvinced, here is what Mr. Giuliani on Sunday said he would tell a young son, if he were black: “Be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood and don’t get involved with them because, son, there’s a 99 percent chance they’re going to kill you, not the police.”

Mr. Giuliani’s garbled, fictional statistic echoes a common right-wing talking point about the prevalence of “black on black” violence in America. Homicide data do show that black victims are most often killed by black assailants. (They also reveal that whites tend to be killed by whites.) This observation does not speak to the matter of racist policing and police brutality. Killings of the police have, mercifully, been on the decline during the Obama presidency. But unwarranted shootings by police officers remain a persistent problem, ignored for generations, exploding only now into the wider public consciousness because of bystander videos that reveal the blood-red truth.

There is Mr. Giuliani’s ludicrous suggestion that black people don’t know they need to be careful around cops, or somehow are complicit in their brutalizing. Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, in a St. Paul suburb, were posing no threat when they were shot. (Far from being ignorant of the ways of the police, fearful black parents long ago learned to impart the advice that Mr. Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said she gave her son: “If you get stopped by the police, comply. Comply, comply, comply.”) Eric Garner, on Staten Island, was unarmed and outnumbered by the officers who swarmed and smothered him.

In 1999, when Mr. Giuliani was New York’s tough-on-crime mayor, Amadou Diallo reached for his wallet and was cut down in a hail of police bullets. Patrick Dorismond was minding his own business on a Manhattan street in 2000 when Mr. Giuliani’s undercover officers confronted him and shot him dead. In one of the disgraceful acts of his or any mayoralty, Mr. Giuliani smeared the victim’s reputation and released part of his juvenile police record, as if to suggest that he deserved to be murdered.

(click here to continue reading Rudy Giuliani’s Racial Myths – The New York Times.)

A Friendly Spotted Pig
A Friendly Spotted Pig Is Smarter than Rush Limbaugh

The vulgar pig-boy loved it, predictably:

Well Rudy Giulani tried the truth on CBS this morning, and he’s catching hell. He’s catching hell for things he said on TV yesterday. He’s catching hell for going after the squeegee guys again. He’s catching hell for stop don’t frisk, or frisk don’t stop, whatever. He’s catching hell for the broken windows policy. He’s catching hell for everything he ever did because he said — and I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t have it right in front of me. He said: if black lives really mattered, then they would be concerned about all the black lives lost in inner cities like Chicago that result from black crime. But I don’t think that Black Lives Matter cares about any of that, so, and he went on to call them an inherent racial or racist organization by virtue of their title, Black Lives Matter. If you’re going to start segregating things like that, doesn’t it make you racist. Now they’re coming after Rudy full-throttle, full-throat, but he made an accurate statement.

(click here to continue reading Limbaugh Defends Giuliani Calling Black Lives Matter Racist: It’s An “Accurate Statement”.)

Gee, thanks, Rush, for your insight into the Republican mindset.

Friendly Conversation
Friendly Conversation

Rudy Giuliani’s reign of error is part of the underlying problem, to be fair.

Terrence Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who appeared on the same show, was quick to dismiss Mr. Giuliani’s comments. “I wouldn’t make that connection,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s Black Lives Matter that put a target on those police officers,” Mr. Cunningham continued, adding, “Unfortunately, I think, you know, people have really polarized this issue. If we really want to work towards solutions, we need to work together.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who also appeared on the show, suggested that Mr. Giuliani was partly to blame for the rift.

“He actually presided over one of the most discredited areas and periods of policing in the City of New York,” she said, “which is, in fact, responsible for a lot of the tension that exists between police officers and people in African-American communities.”

(click here to continue reading Rudolph Giuliani Lashes Out at Black Lives Matter – The New York Times.)

Finally, from a former NYC Officer

EUGENE O’DONNELL: It is important to say Rudy Guiliani is in a special category. This is a person that made a study out of the most divisive, inflammatory rhetoric with the African-American community, and sadly, is a two term mayor. So we’re not talking about crazy people speaking in the recesses of social media or somebody saying, you kill one of us, we’ll kill two of you in a crowd, we’re talking about somebody who every time he speaks on race hits a new low. I’m not even an African-American, I find one of the things — because I know his playbook — that I find particularly offensive is when he pretends to be talking to the African-American community when he’s really talking at the African-American community, and has nothing to say to them. He poisoned race relations in New York City almost irreparably. We’re trying to get a handle on this. He is one of the most extremist, divisive people, I think I remember when he contemplated running for Senate against Mrs. Clinton, I believe the poll showed the African-American community, he had zero percent. David Duke would have 1 percent. That’s the kind of mayor he was. And people who saw him in action — we can talk about how he destroyed the police profession as a labor mayor — but people of good faith should be calling this guy out. And what’s scary is — we have people running for high office here. If they said what they’re saying out loud on Facebook as cops, they’d be terminated tomorrow morning.

(click here to continue reading On MSNBC’s All In, A Former NYC Officer Says Giuliani “Hits A New Low” “Every Time He Speaks On Race”.)

I’d be happy if I never heard from Rudy Giuliani again, on any topic, but specifically on race and police.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 12th, 2016 at 8:11 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Thursday Leftovers – Plate 7

If I wasn’t such a lazy blogger, these would be full-blown posts, interspersed with actual thoughts of mine, but I am, so belly up to the blog bar…

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Shortly after Snyder became owner, the Skins lobbied the Prince George’s County authorities to authorize a ban on all pedestrians from entering the grounds of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (renamed FedExField after the delivery firm offered Snyder $205 million), even on public sidewalks. No public hearings were held before the ban went into effect. There was essentially no public transportation to the games, so the ban meant fans had no choice but to drive and park in the Snyder-owned lots.

Pedestrian ban/parking monopoly in hand, Snyder jacked the parking rate up from $10 to $25.

Szymkowicz found out about the ban after a friend had given him a pass to sit in the owner’s suite for a Washington/Dallas game at FedEx in 2001, but didn’t have a parking pass. Not wanting to pay $25 for a free ticket, Szymkowicz parked for free at Landover Mall, located about a half-mile from FedEx Field’s front entrance, and walked over, only to be told by police that walking into the stadium was against the law.

The county’s ban was repealed in October 2004. Szymkowicz not only had beaten Snyder, he’d also exposed the owner, who’d positioned himself as an everyfan when he bought the team, as the anti-fan phony he was.

Snyder got up to his old parking tricks again soon, however. Only the venue had changed.

(click here to continue reading The Atlanta Braves Borrowed Their Parking Scam From Dan Snyder.)

Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins headphones, one of many audio devices using a 3.5mm jack in my home or office

Damn, I hope Apple doesn’t remove the 3.5mm headphone jack. I have too many third-party headphones, speakers, musical instruments, etc. that wouldn’t connect anymore. Dongles are irritating to keep track of, and as Jason Snell writes, there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit to removing the headphone jack, not that anyone has come up with anyway.

Is Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone? Nobody really knows, though rumors have swirled for quite a while now. A recent exchange between Nilay Patel and John Gruber returned this debate to the foreground last week.

Of course, the truth is that it’s very hard to talk about this rumor in the absence of actual information. Any move like this by Apple would be accompanied with a raft of other information, including Apple’s rationale, any new features enabled by the removal, and of course adapters for existing hardware. In the absence of all that, people are able to fill in the blanks with bogeymen or rainbows depending on their point of view.

Before digging into the possible reasons for the move, it’s worth mentioning why this is such a hot-button issue in the first place. It’s all about inconvenience. As a standard that’s been around for more than a hundred years, there are a massive number of devices that support the 3.5mm headphone jack. Not just phones and tablets, but computers and amplified speakers and mixers and pretty much any other device in existence that can play audio.

There’s no doubt that if Apple were to remove the headphone jack, there would be some sort of adapter to allow headphones and speakers with headphone plugs to get audio out of an iPhone. But of course, adapters cost money and are easily lost or forgotten and can be bulky and annoying.

(click here to continue reading Searching for a good reason to remove the headphone jack – Six Colors.)

Debt is a finger laying on the scale of the economy. If a college education, for instance, didn’t cost so much, perhaps more small businesses could be launched… 

Young people very well may lead the country in entrepreneurship, as a mentality. But when it comes to the more falsifiable measure of entrepreneurship as an activity, older generations are doing most of the work. The average age for a successful startup-founder is about 40 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation, a think tank focused on education and entrepreneurship. (In their words, one’s 40s are the “peak age for business formation.”)  The reality is that the typical American entrepreneur isn’t that hover-boarding kid in a hoodie; it’s his mom or dad. In fact, the only age group with rising entrepreneurial activity in the last two decades is people between 55 and 65.

So, why hasn’t Millennial entrepreneurship kept pace with either media expectations or past generations?

The answer begins with more debt and less risk-taking. The number of student borrowers rose 89 percent between 2004 and 2014, as Lettieri said in his testimony. During that time, the average debt held by student borrowers grew by 77 percent. Even when student debt is bearable, it can still shape a life, nudging young people toward jobs that guarantee a steady salary. Entrepreneurship, however, is a perilous undertaking that doesn’t offer such stability. There is also some evidence that young people’s appetite for risk-taking has declined at the same time that their student debt has grown. More than 40 percent of 25-to-34-year old Americans said a fear of failure kept them from starting a company in 2014; it 2001, just 24 percent said so.

The rarity of Millennial entrepreneurs doesn’t just deflate a common media myth—it could have lasting consequences for the competitiveness of the American economy. Although venture-capital investment has grown in the last decade, the majority of “startups” are really what most people consider “small businesses.” A new bodega, coffee shop, or small construction firm doesn’t seem like a radical act of innovation. But the government considers such companies to be startups, and they’re getting rarer as a handful of large firms dominate each sector of the U.S. economy. Three drug stores—CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite Aid—own 99 percent of the national market. Two companies—Amazon and Barnes & Noble—sell half of the country’s books. If it is not quite a new Gilded Age for America’s monopolies, it is certainly a new dawn for its oligopolies.

(click here to continue reading The Myth of the Millennial Entrepreneur – The Atlantic.)

Go Teach All Nations
Go Teach All Nations

If you call yourself a Christian, and you enthusiastically support Donald Trump, you are a hypocrite. Plain and simple.

Those who believe this is merely reductionism should consider the words of Jesus: Do you have eyes but fail to see and ears but fail to hear? Mr. Trump’s entire approach to politics rests on dehumanization. If you disagree with him or oppose him, you are not merely wrong. You are worthless, stripped of dignity, the object of derision. This attitude is central to who Mr. Trump is and explains why it pervades and guides his campaign. If he is elected president, that might-makes-right perspective would infect his entire administration.

All of this is important because of what it says about Mr. Trump as a prospective president. But it is also revealing for what it says about Christians who now testify on his behalf (there are plenty who don’t). The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?

(click here to continue reading The Theology of Donald Trump – The New York Times.)

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Speaking of carelessness:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is yet again facing scrutiny for his involvement in the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal. In the latest “Bridgegate” twist, the New Jersey governor can’t account for the phone he used to send text messages when the bridge was partially shut down—allegedly as political retribution—and during the subsequent legislative hearings, which could harm the failed presidential candidate’s chances of getting tapped for the No. 2 job.

Two of Christie’s former allies, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, are pushing prosecutors to introduce more evidence ahead of their criminal trial in September. Facing charges related to the lane closures, which created a days-long traffic jam roughly two and a half years ago, the duo is seeking the cell phone used by Christie during the scandal, but both the governor and federal prosecutors say they don’t know where it is. Gibson Dunn, the law firm Christie hired for the case, said it returned the phone after clearing the politician in the case, but did not specify to whom it was returned, Bloomberg reports.

News of Christie’s missing cell phone comes less than a day after F.B.I. director James Comey labeled Hillary Clinton “extremely careless” in her use of her private e-mail server while secretary of state, though he stopped short of recommending that criminal charges be brought against her. During his bid for president, Christie—who has allegedly filled the position of The Donald’s “manservant”, among other campaign roles—was quick to condemn Clinton for her e-mail practices. Now, it seems the governor’s national aspirations could be derailed by his own scandal. With a Bridgegate-saddled Christie on the ticket, Trump’s attacks on the former secretary of state would be weakened and introduce further ethical issues to the presumptive G.O.P. nominee’s campaign.

(click here to continue reading “Manservant” Chris Christie Can’t Find His Bridgegate Cell Phone | Vanity Fair.)

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered
Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

and speaking of idiots:

Trump currently dismisses climate change as a hoax invented by China, though he has quietly sought to shield real estate investments in Ireland from its effects.

But at the Republican presidential contender’s Palm Beach estate and the other properties that bear his name in south Florida, the water is already creeping up bridges and advancing on access roads, lawns and beaches because of sea-level rise, according to a risk analysis prepared for the Guardian.

In 30 years, the grounds of Mar-a-Lago could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of tidal flooding along the intracoastal water way, with the water rising past some of the cottages and bungalows, the analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting found.

Trump’s insouciance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change – even lapping up on his own doorstep – makes him something of an outlier in south Florida, where mayors are actively preparing for a future under climate change.

Trump, who backed climate action in 2009 but now describes climate change as “bullshit”, is also out of step with the US and other governments’ efforts to turn emissions-cutting pledges into concrete actions in the wake of the Paris climate agreement. Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement.

And the presidential contender’s posturing about climate denial may further alienate the Republican candidate from younger voters and minority voters in this election who see climate change as a gathering danger.

(click here to continue reading Water world: rising tides close in on Trump, the climate change denier | US news | The Guardian.)

Until next time…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:48 am

The Struggle to Vote in Kansas

We Will Vote
We Will Vote

I would be more sanguine about Trump’s odds of winning the presidency if not for a few nagging thoughts. Hillary Clinton is a plodding centrist, not a natural politician. I’m still unconvinced the electronic voting machines are immune to shenanigans, and Trump is motivated to explore cheating so as to avoid an embarrassing loss. And the GOP has been methodically undermining voting rights in state after state after state. 

Like in Kansas:

The right to vote is turning into a tooth-and-claw saga in Kansas, thanks to right-wing ideologues’ determination to force new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship.

This is unheard-of in most of the nation, where aspiring voters are required only to swear to being citizens under penalty of prosecution for fraud. But in Kansas, the requirement that citizenship be documented has become a grave electoral impediment that is being challenged on two legal fronts.

In the first, a federal district judge in May ordered the state to register thousands of people who had been denied federal voting privileges because they did not produce proof of citizenship when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the requirement violated the National Voter Registration Act provision that “only the minimum amount of information” is needed to certify a voter. The state is appealing her ruling.

Judge Robinson found that 18,372 qualified voters had been unfairly barred from federal elections — about 8 percent of new applicants. She also found that between 1995 and 2013, there were only three instances in Kansas when noncitizens had voted. This was a humiliating setback for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been a major proponent of the Republican fantasy that voter fraud is rampant.

A separate lawsuit, also in Kansas and brought by voting rights groups, is focused on a brazen attempt to force prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in state elections as an addendum to the federal government’s voter registration form.

So goes the weakened state of democracy in Kansas. As the courts thrash through the Republicans’ “voter fraud” myth, it is shocking that thousands of qualified Kansans still have no certainty that they will be allowed into the voting booth.

(click here to continue reading The Struggle to Vote in Kansas – The New York Times.)

We can all laugh and roll our eyes at the thought of President Trump, and yet…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:24 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , ,

Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7416/27799876280_d9f7ef04db_z.jpg
Might be worth saving this magazine…

Oh, joy. Being a Senator must be too boring for “Calgary” Cruz, he’d rather have a permanent presidential campaign instead. Well, on the bright side, maybe that Natural Born Citizen case will get settled this time.

Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign ended just two months ago. But his campaign for next cycle is already getting started.

According to a report Wednesday in National Review, the Texas senator is making big changes inside and outside of his Senate office to ready his political operation for a 2020 run. Cruz has been “conspicuously silent” recently, the report notes, but behind the scenes has “supervis[ed] the vast expansion of his electoral enterprise, integrating the operations of his campaign team,” and has instituted staffing changes to reflect his long-term goals.

Among them is Cruz’s decision to bring on a longtime Republican campaign operative—with no Hill-office experience—as his Senate chief of staff. His current chief is departing to work as a senior adviser to two new Cruz-aligned nonprofit groups:

Central to [Cruz’s] plans is the creation of two new affiliated nonprofits, their names to be announced in the coming days, which will effectively keep Cruz’s political machinery humming over the next four years. These groups, one a 501(c)3 and the other a 501(c)4, will be responsible for everything from championing Cruz’s legislative priorities to maintaining his donor database and coordinating his early-state travel. They will be an outgrowth of Cruz’s existing campaign apparatus, the nucleus of which has remained active in the aftermath of his departure from the race on May 3.

(click here to continue reading Texas Senator Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run – The Atlantic.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:14 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with

Location of Last Season’s Acorn Woodpecker Party was uploaded to Flickr

Castle Rock Trail, Walnut Creek, CA.

From Wikipedia:
The breeding pair excavate a nest in a large cavity in a dead tree or a dead part of a tree. A group of adults may participate in nesting activities: field studies have shown that breeding groups range from monogamous pairs to breeding collectives of seven males and three females, plus up to 10 nonbreeding helpers. Young from a single brood have been found with multiple paternity.

Male acorn woodpecker with "granary tree" full of acorns

Acorn hoarded by acorn woodpecker
Food and homes
Acorn woodpeckers, as their name implies, depend heavily on acorns for food. In some parts of their range (e.g., California), the woodpeckers create granaries or "acorn trees" by drilling holes in dead trees, dead branches, telephone poles, and wooden buildings. The woodpeckers then collect acorns and find a hole that is just the right size for the acorn. As acorns dry out, they are moved to smaller holes and granary maintenance requires a significant amount of the bird’s time. They also feed on insects, sap, and fruit.

Defense and storing
The acorns are visible, and the group defends the tree against potential cache robbers like Steller’s jays and western scrub jays. Acorns are such an important resource to the California populations that acorn woodpeckers may nest in the fall to take advantage of the fall acorn crop, a rare behavior in birds.
Acorn woodpeckers can also be seen sallying from tree limbs to catch insects, eating fruit and seeds, and drilling holes to drink sap. The acorn woodpecker will use any human-made structures to store acorns, drilling holes into fence posts, utility poles, buildings, and even automobile radiators. Occasionally the woodpecker will put acorns into places where it cannot get them out. Woodpeckers put 220 kg (490 lb) of acorns into a wooden water tank in Arizona. In parts of its range the acorn woodpecker does not construct a "granary tree", but instead stores acorns in natural holes and cracks in bark. If the stores are eaten, the woodpecker will move to another area, even going from Arizona to Mexico to spend the winter.

more:
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I took Location of Last Season’s Acorn Woodpecker Party on July 01, 2016 at 04:09AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 06, 2016 at 10:11AM

Written by eggplant

July 6th, 2016 at 9:25 am

Colleen and George, Castle Rock Trail was uploaded to Flickr

Walnut Creek

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embiggen by clicking
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I took Colleen and George, Castle Rock Trail on July 01, 2016 at 04:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 05, 2016 at 08:06PM

Written by eggplant

July 5th, 2016 at 7:24 pm