Sunday, July 24, 2016

About Hillary's alleged unpopularity


Hillary talks about her approval rating:

"So I have a track record. And I'm going to remind people of that. Because it's not just rhetoric, for me," she said. "When I was secretary of state, I had a very high approval rating, as you can go back and check. Because I was doing a job that people could see."

When she was a senator, her approval rating was 66%, the same as it was when she was secretary of state. 

There's always been Hillary hate on the right, of course, since her administration will be a conservative nightmare, with a base of women, gays, Hispanics, African Americans/people of color, and union workers.

But there's also Hillary hate on the Bernie Sanders left: See this, this---and the anti-American Counterpunch left.

The mainstream media's negative coverage has nourished Hillary hate:

Source: Media Tenor, January 1-December 31, 2015. Tone figures based on positive and negative statements only. Neutral statements are excluded.
Shorenstein Center

My prediction: the more people see her during the campaign---especially when compared to Trump---the higher her approval rating will go.

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Are Americans angry?

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

It's now conventional wisdom that explains Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: American voters are pissed off. A few of the latest examples here and here.

Kevin Drum challenges the conventional wisdom:

So why are voters so angry? That's a good question, except for one thing: it assumes that voters are angry in the first place. It's true that if you go out and talk to people, you can find plenty of angry folks. That's always the case, but it's completely meaningless. The only interesting question is: Are Americans angrier than usual? It sure doesn't look like it, does it? You can take a look at every poll you want, and what you'll find is that, generally speaking, Americans just aren't unusually unhappy or unusually angry right now. They just aren't. There's virtually no serious data to suggest otherwise...

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Sam Harris Responds to Reza Aslan

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gary Trudeau saw him coming


3003f8c0acbe012d63f600163e41dd5b
9/18 1987


Rob's comment:
What's surprising is how little Trump has changed over the years. 

It's good to see Uncle Duke again. Too bad Hunter Thompson isn't still around to cover this campaign. It was irresponsible of him to commit suicide.

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BRT and Berkeley

AC Transit 2162, Van Hool AG300 (60ft) on 1R
Cancelled


Bus Rapid Transit is coming, and it slows down bus service
Russ Tilleman
Friday July 22, 2016

I recently considered taking the AC Transit 1R Rapid Bus from my home near Telegraph in Berkeley to the Registrar of Voters office by Lake Merritt in Oakland. When I went online to check the schedule, I was surprised to find that the 1R wasn't listed.Here is what I found on the transit.wiki website: 

"AC Transit 1R This route has been discontinued. Canceled due to BRT construction. AC Transit 1 provides local service along the corridor between San Leandro and Oakland. AC Transit 6 provides local service between Oakland and Berkeley." 

My understanding is that this is a permanent change caused by BRT, and not just an inconvenience during the construction project. 

AC TRANSIT BROKE THE 1 IN HALF AND GOT RID OF RAPID BUSES 

So now, with the coming of BRT, instead of an express bus that ran from San Leandro to Berkeley and back, riders will have to transfer between the non-express 6 and the non-express 1. 

When I predicted that the small speed increase of BRT wasn't worth the massive cost and environmental damage, it didn't even occur to me that BRT would make bus service slower. 

Now AC Transit is spending $174 million on a project to slow down bus service. That money could have put solar panels on the roofs of thousands of homes and actually helped the environment. 

IF FASTER IS BETTER, SLOWER MUST BE WORSE 

According to AC Transit's arguments that slightly faster bus service would get drivers out of their cars, much slower bus service will presumably get people off the bus and into their cars. 

And people called me an anti-environmentalist!

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Suspicions confirmed: MH370 pilot's "suicide run"

21-mh370-zaharie-flight-sim-route.w529.h352
Jeffwise.net

From New York magazine:

New York has obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances. The revelation, which Malaysia withheld from a lengthy public report on the investigation, is the strongest evidence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide...

A post from last year: Media ignoring the obvious: The Pilot did it.

See also the comments to the version of the New York magazine article on Jeff Wise's website.

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Tim Kaine




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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Republican Party: From Lincoln to Trump




See also this.

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Getty Images


Matt Davies

Donald Trump yells at America for more than an hour

More from the great Matt Davies here.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016



I've posted before about Charlie Rose's limitations as an interviewer (see this and this). He did it again in his interview with Hillary Clinton the other night. He barely let her finish a sentence without his banal, poorly-informed interruptions. It must be exasperating for her to have to put up with this bullshit instead of just saying, "Shut up for a minute, Charlie, and let me talk without constant interruptions."

Bill Maher was effective in getting Rose to stop interrupting in their discussion of Islam, during which Rose was reliably lame and poorly informed. As per mainstream media practice, Rose was uncomfortable even talking about Islam, especially with someone who's a critic. 

Maher finally raised his hand and said to Rose firmly, "Let me finish."

Hillary was probably thinking, "Okay, it's his show, but why does he keep interrupting the next President of the United States? He asks me for an interview and then barely lets me talk."

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bicycle Coalition membership drive

Training wheels at first

The bicycle commuter count is down 7%, and women aren't eager to join the guys in the bike revolution. Maybe dogs can be drafted. See Hoodline: 'Raise The Woof' At PUBLIC Bikes This Saturday.

They're probably smart/dumb enough to go for it. If dogs can ride skateboards, why not bikes?

After all, parents here in Progressive Land want to get their children on bikes. Why not their dogs?

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Double standard on blocking traffic


On the one hand, Streetsblog thinks parking in the bike lanes on Valencia Street is a problem and a safety issue. They aren't wrong. On the other hand, how are small businesses on Valencia supposed to get deliveries? This is a problem for small businesses in a lot of city neighborhoods.

But when progressives block the streets for political reasons, it's a different story. Critical Mass, for example, has been bullying the people on the streets of their city since 1992. Next year will be the 25th anniversary of that disruptive demo.

When Black Lives Matter demonstrators block streets, an anti-car site tells us that streets and freeways were always designed to be racist, so it's okay to block traffic during anti-racist demonstrations!

Streetsblog even argues that people obstructing traffic during demonstrations are only exercising their First Amendment rights! Black Lives Matter, but there's no such thing as Motorists Matter, since not blocking traffic---that is, when traffic moves well---is really about indulging "motorist entitlement."

The eagerness to arrest and aggressively disperse people protesting on highways seems inseparable from public officials’ identification with motorist entitlement — the presumption that drivers’ business must never be subordinated, and certainly not for a spontaneous public demonstration exercising First Amendment rights...

In passing the Streetsblog story on Valencia retails what I call the Valencia Street Lie:

It should be noted that none of this work detracts from the efforts of the late-great bike advocate, Mary Brown, former Membership Director at the SF Bicycle Coalition. In 1999, she successfully campaigned for the striped lane on Valencia Street, one of the first bike lanes in the city. Local businesses and others fought that simple change. But bike counts increased 144 percent the following year from that breakthrough accomplishment.

I've been writing about the Valencia Street for years, and I've never seen any evidence that "local businesses" opposed the bike lanes. In fact, in a follow-up study by the MTA in 2000, we see this:

The Mission Merchants Association, whose boundaries are Division Street and Duboce Avenue to the north, Guerrero Street to the west, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, and Folsom Street to the east, supports the bicycle lanes (page 6).

On the same page:

A common complaint from these responses was the proliferation of double-parking in the bike lanes along Valencia Street...It should be noted that double-parking on Valencia Street was a problem before the installation of bicycle lanes.

It's a problem without an obvious solution. Ticketing delivery vehicles punishes those trying to make deliveries to small businesses, which in effect will punish the businesses themselves by making it even harder to get deliveries.

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Which countries have the most immigrants?

Priceonomics




...It’s not just a question of nuclear codes, it’s everything about him, the casual lies, the open racism, you name it. Just read Jane Mayer’s brutal article that landed today based on her interviews with Tony Schwartz, who ghost-wrote The Art of the Deal and who believes now that Trump is a totally amoral sociopath.[Later: Trump threatens Schwartz with legal action]

It used to be, back in more civil times, that the other side kind of went dark during one party’s convention. No one can afford that luxury now. Americans who watch the GOP fest are going to hear four nights of “Hillary has blood on her hands” and “Hillary belongs in jail.” 

The Clinton campaign should devote some energy this week not to pushing back against those narratives directly necessarily, but to reminding Americans that the other guy is unacceptable on every level...

See also 141 Things Donald Trump Has Said and Done That Make Him Unfit to Be President

Later: I just read the Jane Mayer New Yorker story linked above. It's the best thing I've read about Trump, and I'm sorry to say I've read a lot. Needless to say it's not flattering.




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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bobby Knight supports Trump



Pre-Trump symbolic behavior by one of his supporters.

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Inmate mental health: Story that's not a scoop


The SF Weekly on the county jail's mental health crisis

For the second time in a month, a report on the state of inmate mental health in San Francisco has been released - which means for the second time in a month, we can wonder if anyone at City Hall is still paying attention to the crisis happening in the County Jail system and, in turn, on city streets. 

San Francisco officials last year wanted the city to invest in alternatives to incarceration instead of a new jail, and that includes much more robust mental health care services. But since the Board of Supervisors rejected funding for a new jail in December, not much has happened save for a concept paper released in mid-June and now a grand jury report on the mental health crisis among inmates...

The SF Weekly doesn't mention it, but the much-maligned Sheriff Mirkarimi tried to warn the city about this ongoing crisis, calling the city jails "the largest mental hospital in the city" in an interview with The San Francisco Public Press back in November, 2014.

See also "It's expensive to be poor."

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Hillary: Overturn Citizens United

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Latest Pew poll: Hillary 9 points ahead

Pew Research Center

Thanks to Mother Jones.

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Trump and the media:1987


8a6a82e0acbe012d63f600163e41dd5b
Doonesbury, 1987


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Friday, July 15, 2016

Calling the right's bluff on ISIS


I've done a number of posts that criticize liberals for their peculiar inability to talk clearly and convincingly about Islamic terrorism (See this, thisthis, this). Sometimes liberals leave the impression that those of us who are alarmed by Islamic terrorism are simply Islamophobes, that we're exaggerating the threat, that most Moslems are peaceable, etc. Yes, of course most Muslims aren't terrorists, but that doesn't help us deal with the significant minority that are.

I've been asked before what I think should be done, but I really don't have more to suggest than what President Obama is already doing, including his drone strikes.

But the least we should do is stop with the liberal/progressive denial about calling it by its correct name and pretending that somehow all will be made right by our good liberal multicultural intentions.

On the other hand, the right-wing goes to the opposite rhetorical extremes, which Kevin Drum calls out today:

All of these folks are fundamentally pissed off about our "seriousness" in going after ISIS—although I don't think ISIS has yet been connected to the Nice attack. But put that aside.

Whenever I read stuff like this, I have one question: What do you think we should do? If you really want to destroy ISIS, and do it quickly, there's only one alternative: ground troops and plenty of them. This would be a massive counterinsurgency operation, something we've proven to be bad at, and at a guess would require at least 100,000 troops. Maybe more. And they'd have to be staged in unfriendly territory: Syria, which obviously doesn't want us there, and Iraq, which also doesn't want us there in substantial numbers.

Is that what these folks want? Anything less is, to use their words, unserious. But if they do want a massive ground operation, and simply aren't willing to say so because they're afraid the public would rebel, then they're just as cowardly as the people they're attacking.

This is the choice. Don't bamboozle me with no-fly zones and tougher rules of engagement and better border security. That's small beer. You either support Obama's current operation, more or less, or else you want a huge and costly ground operation. There's really no middle ground. So which is it?

Rob's comment:
Nor do conservatives have better domestic proposals to fight terrorist acts by people already in the country. Presumably the FBI is trying to identify those people, but the task is difficult to impossible before such "lone wolf" attacks happen.

The unpleasant reality is that this brand of terrorism will be with us for the foreseeable future: "The battle will go on for the rest of our lives."

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The scorecard

The Religion of Peace
Religion of Peace.com

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sam Harris, Fareed Zakaria on Islam



See also Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Why Islam Needs a Reformation.

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Michael Herr on Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

Michael Herr ("Dispatches") sometimes worked with Stanley Kubrick on movie scripts. Below are a few snippets from the long piece Herr did In Vanity Fair after Kubrick died:

I’d arrived for work in the late afternoon. “Ready for some serious brainstorming, Michael? You want a drink first?” I reflexively checked my watch. “How come all you heavy drinkers always look at your watches when somebody offers you a drink?”

Jim Thompson, the toughest pulp novelist of them all, had made him nervous when they were working together on "The Killing," a big guy in a dirty old raincoat, a terrific writer but a little too hard-boiled for Stanley’s taste. He’d turn up for work carrying a bottle in a brown paper bag, but saying nothing about it—it was just there on the desk with no apology or comment—not at all interested in putting Stanley at ease except to offer him the bag, which Stanley declined, and making no gestures whatever to any part of the Hollywood process, except maybe toward the money...

...Once a year he’d get the latest issue of Maledicta, a journal of scatological invective and insult, unashamedly incorrect, willfully scurrilous, and pretty funny, and read me the highlights.

“Hey Michael, what’s the American Dream?”

“I give.”

“Ten million blacks swimming to Africa, with a Jew under each arm.”

To which he added, “Don’t worry, Michael. They don’t mean us.”

...Then he told me about a friend of his, a studio head who’d just bought an apartment in New York. He told me how much he’d paid for it, and said that he was the first Jew ever admitted to the building.

“Can you believe that? What is it, 1999? And they never let a Jew in there before?”

In Holland, he’d heard, there was a soccer team called Ajax that had once had a Jewish player, and ever since then Dutch skinheads would go to all the team’s matches and make a loud hissing noise, meant to represent the sound of gas escaping into the death chambers. “And that’s Holland, Michael. A civilized country.” Laughing...

...Stanley didn’t live in England because he disliked America. God knows, it’s all he ever talked about. It was always on his mind and in his blood. I’m not sure he even really knew he wasn’t living in America all along, although he hadn’t been there since 1968. In the days before satellite TV, he’d had relatives and friends send him tapes of American television—N.F.L. games, the Johnny Carson show, news broadcasts, and commercials, which he thought were, in their way, the most interesting films being made. (He’d tape his favorite commercials and recut them, just for the monkish exercise.)...It wasn’t America he couldn’t take. It was L.A.

He was walking into a Hollywood restaurant one night in 1955 as James Dean came out, stepped into the Porsche Spyder that had just been brought around by the parking valet, and drove off. Stanley remarked at the time how fast he was going...

...He didn’t exactly utter the word “actors” under his breath like a curse, but he definitely thought of them as wild cards, something to be overcome with difficulty. They were so lazy about learning their lines, were often otherwise “unprepared,” so capricious, so childlike, and the younger ones were completely spoiled. There was even something mysterious, and to him a little freakish, about anybody who could and would stand up in front of other people to assume and express emotions at will, sometimes to the point of tears.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I have to tell you, I really like actors.”

“That’s because you don’t have to pay them, Michael.”

...They’d come to him for direction, and he’d send them back to work to find out for themselves. On A Clockwork Orange, when Malcolm McDowell asked, he told him, “Malcolm, I’m not RADA[Royal Academy of Dramatic Art]. I hired you to do the acting.” He was preparing a scene for Spartacus in which Laurence Olivier and Nina Foch are sitting in their seats above the arena waiting for the gladiators to enter and fight to the death, and Nina Foch asked him for motivation. “What am I doing, Stanley?” she asked, and Stanley said, “You’re sitting here with Larry waiting for the gladiators to come out.”

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Governor Brown's end-run

SF Chronicle

by Dan Walters
July 5, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown, stymied in the Legislature, will attempt to extend the state’s crackdown on carbon emissions into the next decade by decree.

Late Friday, Brown’s Air Resources Board dispatched a memo declaring that it would unveil a draft of new regulations next Tuesday, extending its troubled cap-and-trade program and other elements of the campaign beyond 2020.

It will ignite what could be a protracted political and legal battle over whether the ARB has the authority to act, or must obtain legislative authorization.

The 2006 legislation that authorized the war on carbon, Assembly Bill 32, specifically aims to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. But the administration contends that AB 32 authorizes action beyond that date, relying on its stated intention to “maintain and continue reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases beyond 2020.”

However, the next sentence in the law says the ARB “shall make recommendations to the governor and the Legislature on how to continue reductions of greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020,” which implies that it needs reauthorization.

Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller obtained an opinion from the Legislature’s legal counsel that the law “does not authorize (the ARB) or the governor to set an emission limit after 2020 that is lower than” AB 32’s 1990 target level.

Legal and political uncertainty about the program beyond 2020 has been, analysts say, a major factor in the implosion of the quarterly auction of cap-and-trade emission allowances as speculators dump allowances that could become worthless.

May’s auction generated just 2 percent of expected sales of state-owned allowances, undermining Brown’s $3.1 billion spending plan, including $500 million for his financially strapped bullet train project...(emphasis added)

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Ruben Bolling

Thanks to Daily Kos.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Michael Herr's book


Neil Shea in The American Scholar (What Michael Herr Meant to Me):

On a bright morning in June 2013, I squatted in a borrowed office at Sewanee, the University of the South, scribbling out lesson plans for a workshop in nonfiction writing that I felt only thinly qualified to teach. Above me loomed a large bookcase lined with classics of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and criticism, anthologies and dictionaries—a wall of words that reminded me daily of how much I had not read. At my elbow, amid the squall of papers ranged across my desk was a paperback copy of Michael Herr’s Dispatches.

Herr’s account of his years covering the war in Vietnam was one of several I’d assigned for the workshop that summer. I had been so thrilled to reread it and discuss it with my students that I’d written to Herr, who died last month at the age of 76, to see if he might speak with me. I knew it was a long shot. 

In the years following the 1977 publication of Dispatches, Herr rarely granted interviews, making clear again and again that Vietnam no longer interested him. He did not distance himself from the work so much as he refused to revisit its territory, declining to be pulled into the life, separate and surreal, that the book had achieved on its own. And yet the best piece of writing advice I ever received, and that I often recycle, is to Just do it, whatever it is, and so with Herr I had. Herr’s publisher agreed to forward the short note I’d written, while warning me that “Michael says no to everything.”

A month passed. By that June morning in my office, I had given up hope of a response and was staring at the bookshelf, wondering what new thing I could possibly say about Dispatches, when my mobile phone rang. The caller ID said Oneonta, New York. I didn’t know anyone in that part of the state and normally I would have ignored the call. When I answered, it was Herr. His voice was warm and soft, a slight sibilance, a deep calm. I realized I had never heard him speak.

I first read Dispatches in Iraq in 2006, while reporting a story for National Geographic. I had never covered war and had somehow argued my way into the job for a magazine that seemed to exist in a parallel world where such events almost never occurred. I’d arrived at the airport in Baghdad without a visa but carrying a copy of a recent issue in case anyone wanted proof beyond my passport and letter of assignment. Iraqi customs officials joked that I was too late—Saddam had killed all the wildlife: there was nothing left for National Geographic to see...

A couple of weeks after my arrival, the war took a desperate turn, when in late February, the al-Askari mosque at Samarra was destroyed in a bomb blast. For many Shia this was the final, unforgivable crime in the stream of violence that followed the American invasion. A brutal civil war would come next. But in the strange haze of before, I spent days bored and trapped inside the Green Zone, waiting to begin my embed with U.S. troops...Each morning and evening, I was escorted to meals by soldiers more bored than I was. Each day they said my embed would begin soon. The only book I’d brought was Dispatches.

For years I’d been reluctant to read it. The book hangs over every war story told since Vietnam and has never been equaled. Even the word “dispatch” was so transformed by Herr’s work that it couldn’t be used without implication, or supplication. Dispatches was heavy. 

When you’re a young writer, you think about such weight. You want to learn from it, leverage it, without being crushed. I remember opening the book at a picnic table outside the old parking garage where reporters were kept. 

In a tower nearby, soldiers from the Georgian republic stood watch, shadows behind dark glass. Overhead, a camouflage net scattered sunlight into hot little fragments. My copy of Dispatches was a first edition, its spine warped, its paper cover flaking like birch bark. 

I opened it, and very suddenly, there was no room to breathe. I was crushed from page one...

See also Michael Herr's 2000 Vanity Fair article on Stanley Kubrick.

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Black guy/wimpy white guy TV commercials


I suppose we white men shouldn't complain too much about the commercials wherein dominant black men demean wimpy white men, given how until recently black people have been portrayed by Hollywood and on TV. 

Even so it seems to be a problematic genre that doesn't exactly help the country's white/black relations.

Before Samuel Jackson, Michael Jordan starred in the genre with his underwear ads:




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Trump is a "chicken hawk"

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding.
Waterboarded 183 times

Debra Saunders in this morning's Chronicle:

In 2000, Democrats dismissed George W. Bush’s service as a pilot in the Air National Guard as akin to draft evasion. It wasn’t. But Bush didn’t help himself on that score when he chose as his running mate Dick Cheney, a former defense secretary who enjoyed five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. In 2004, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., branded Cheney a “chicken hawk” because the veep was a hawk on the Iraq War.

You don’t hear “chicken hawk” often these days, even though President Obama never served in the military. Vice President Joe Biden enjoyed five student draft deferments during Vietnam, and the no-military-experience Obama administration has continued to engage the U.S. military from Libya to Afghanistan. In 2009, I took a gander at Obama’s first Cabinet and found that members were three times more likely to be law-school grads than veterans.

Her "law-school grads" slur is just that. More importantly, Saunders is blurring a crucial part of the definition of "chicken hawk," which requires that those so labeled approve of aggressive military action but didn't serve when they were military age. That's why the term fits Cheney, not Obama or Biden, neither of whom were/are hawks by any reasonable definition. In fact Obama was elected in part based on his opposition to the war in Iraq, which he used effectively against Hillary in the 2008 primaries.

Saunders on the list of Democrats that might be Hillary's running mates:

Not one Democrat on the Times’ short list is a vet. All of the short-list Dems...went to law or graduate school. Whether they’ll be called chicken hawks is unclear. But if the experts are right about likely picks, most will have begun their careers barking orders and never had to learn how to salute.

Not at all "unclear," since, as far as I know none of those listed has any history of hawkish foreign policy opinions.

Donald Trump fits the definition, since he got a number of draft deferments during the the US attack on Vietnam, though he had no history of being a hawk until recent years---and particularly during the present campaign.

He has advocated using military force to take oil from other countries, along with some other highly dubious notions:

Trump famously summarizing his policy as "bomb the shit out of" ISIS. But the way in which Trump plans to wage war on ISIS is far more aggressive — and illegal — than anything Clinton proposed. One of Trump's signature proposals is targeting and killing the families of suspected ISIS fighters. "When you get these terrorists," Trump said in December, "you have to take out their families."

He also wants to bring back torture that's "much tougher" than waterboarding. "Don’t kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work," he said at a November campaign event. But "if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they’re doing."

To be clear, both torture and the intentional killing of civilians are crimes under international and US law. Confusingly, Trump said in early March he would not order US military officers to disobey the law. But he subsequently suggested that he'd "like the law expanded" to permit torture.

When our government used waterboarding, it was supposedly to extract information from the victims, not to punish them "for what they're doing." Subsequent information and analysis showed that this form of torture didn't work. 

Incredibly, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and still provided no useful information!

In short, Donald J. Trump clearly now qualifies as a chicken hawk. 

His sneer at Senator McCain is particularly contemptible, since as a US pilot in Vietnam, McCain was shot down and then tortured by his captors.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

This day in history: "Monkey trial" July 10, 1925

Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan 
(Brown Brothers, Sterling, PA)

From the Daily Kos:

...This might just be an historical curiosity if it weren’t for the fact that anti-evolution and anti-science forces in our nation are still proposing legislation which attempts to prevent Darwin and evolutionary science to be taught in schools. When that fails, attempts are made to teach faux “creation science” and “intelligent design” as if they are legitimate academic disciplines. 

Making this even worse is the fact that former Republican presidential primary candidates and the presumptive nominee are vocally anti-evolution and anti-science. That should not only be an embarrassment for us as an advanced technological nation, but should be one of the major reasons to reject Republican adherents of pseudo-science at the ballot box in November...

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

The white strategy is a losing strategy

The Atlantic Magazine

From The White Strategy, by Peter Beinart, in the Atlantic Magazine:

...When [Pete]Wilson announced his presidential campaign[in 1990], California was a Republican-leaning state. Between the end of World War II and the end of the Cold War, it had gone to the Republican presidential candidate nine out of 11 times and elected a Republican governor seven out of 11 times. Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, the state assembly, and a majority of statewide elected offices. 

And while the state’s growing Latino population posed a challenge to GOP dominance, Latinos had shown themselves willing to vote Republican in substantial numbers. According to exit polls, Ronald Reagan won 44 percent of California Latinos in 1984. Republican Governor George Deukmejian won 46 percent in 1986. Pete Wilson himself won 47 percent in 1990. During the Reagan and George H. W. Bush years, according to a study by the political scientists Shaun Bowler, Stephen P. Nicholson, and Gary M. Segura, “Latinos in California had been drifting toward the GOP.”

But all of that changed after the GOP began targeting Latino immigrants. Feeling themselves under assault, California Latinos registered to vote in epic numbers. From 1994 to 2004, according to Latino America, by Segura and Matt A. Barreto, the voter-registration rate among California Latinos grew 69 percent—more than twice as fast as the state’s Latino population. 

Latino voters also swung sharply against the GOP. Republicans, who had lost the Latino vote by six points in the 1990 gubernatorial race, lost it by 46 points in 1994, then by 61 points in 1998. Before the passage of Proposition 187 in 1994, California Latinos were four points more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans. After Proposition 227 passed in 1998, the margin reached 51 points. The GOP’s anti-immigrant efforts appear to have alienated young white voters, too...

Almost two decades later, the California Republican Party still has not recovered. Latinos—who now constitute almost 40 percent of California’s population and more than a quarter of its eligible voters—have voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1996 by at least 40 points. Democrats today control every statewide elected office, and make up close to two-thirds of the state Senate and assembly, along with almost three-quarters of California’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

What’s more, state policy has turned in a radically pro-immigrant direction. Over the past 15 years, California has repealed those elements of Proposition 187 that hadn’t already been ruled unconstitutional, allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses, and granted them in-state tuition at public colleges. It has also begun enrolling undocumented children in the state’s version of Medicaid...

From Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight:

A Field Poll from California gave Clinton an unsurprising 50 percent to 26 percent lead over Trump, with Johnson at 10 percent. The FiveThirtyEight polls-only forecast gives her a 98 percent chance of winning the state.

Beinert points out that the rest of the country is beginning to look like California.


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"This man is not well..."



James Fallows on Trump's July 6 speech in Ohio:

It’s been nearly 13 months since Donald Trump came down the escalator and announced that he was running for president.

This evening, in Ohio, he gave what was even for him the most off-message, most (literally) deranged-seeming performance of his candidacy, and what would have been in any previous campaign a sign of very serious trouble...

The half-hour of Trump’s performance was objectively as alarming, in mental-balance terms, as anything we have seen from a major party candidate in modern history. 

I can’t find an online video of the whole 30 minutes that has acceptable audio quality. But imagine the mosquito clip extended at full length and you have the idea.

I defy anyone to watch these 30 minutes[starting at 7:09] and feel comfortable with the idea of Donald Trump making the countless judgment calls required of a president. 

This man is not well. But he is the man the GOP is about to nominate for the presidency.

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Friday, July 08, 2016

The left and GMOs

Court-GMOS, liberals and science

From the Washington Monthly (Liberals and the Science of GMOs):

...There is near-universal consensus among the world’s scientists that man-made pollutants are trapping heat in the atmosphere and wreaking havoc on the environment. Yet when pollsters ask voters whether they believe temperatures are climbing because of human activities, most Democrats say yes and most Republicans say no.

Democrats may wag their fingers contemptuously at this, but the pot would be calling the kettle black, because many of them are just as stubbornly skeptical on the issue of genetically improved foods, even though the scientific consensus about their virtues is no less universal. That consensus was further cemented last month by an all-star committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which issued a 400-page report concluding that genetically modified (GM) crops are safe to eat and do not harm the environment. 

Either way, such denials of scientific consensus read like newly discovered scenes from a 17th century play. Why is this still happening?...