Monthly Archives: August 2015

Cheap Clothes Of Exploitation

At 6:45 p.m. on November 24, 2012, the fire alarm went off on the fourth floor of a nondescript building in the suburbs of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inside, nearly 1,200 garment workers were on deadline, scrambling to complete an order. When the bells started ringing, they asked if they could leave. Their managers told them to go back to their machines.

Five minutes later, the floor filled with black smoke; screams could be heard from below. The building had no sprinklers or fire escapes. Workers tried to flee down an internal staircase, but the exits were locked. Those on the lower floors were trapped by boxes of yarn and clothes that had already been completed. The fire eventually engulfed the building, killing at least 112 people and injuring hundreds more. Some broke their backs and legs jumping from the windows.

Most of the workers inside the Tazreen garment factory were making clothing for Western brands: Dickies, Wal-Mart, Disney, all their logos showed up on labels pulled from the rubble. But Tazreen wasn’t yet another example of corporations failing to police conditions in their factories. It was an example of how doing so has become impossible.

These big retailers didn’t even know that the clothes they were selling was being made in Bangladesh.  Wal-Mart, for example, never actually placed an order with Tazreen. In fact, over a year before the fire, Wal-Mart inspected the factory and discovered that it was unsafe. By the time of the fire, it had banned its suppliers from using it.

So here’s how its products ended up at Tazreen anyway: Wal-Mart hired a megasupplier called Success Apparel to fill an order for shorts. Success hired another company, Simco, to carry out the work. Simco—without telling Success, much less Wal-Mart—sub-contracted 7 percent of the order to Tazreen’s parent company, the Tuba Group, which then assigned it to Tazreen. Two other sub- (or sub-sub-sub-) contractors also placed Wal-Mart orders at Tazreen, also without telling the company.

This is the nature of the fashion industry today.  It’s tempting to think that we can do something about this. Under scrutiny from environmental and human rights groups as well as consumers, some retailers have come under fire for being unaware of where their suppliers get materials, or of the conditions that laborers in their supply chain work under. But the truth is, many companies don’t know when their suppliers use subcontractors without their knowledge.  Some of these suppliers even put fake “Made In The USA” stamps on them, so that the ultimate seller and buyer at the end of the supply chain are BOTH fooled.

And on top of the Wal-marts and Nordstrum’s, you have new smaller retailers, who avoid brick-and-mortor stores and sell through direct marketing or the Internet.  These small companies simply do not know (or even care to ask) where their products are manufactured.  And even if they do ask, they lack the financial and political clout to know if they are being lied to.  They certainly don’t have the resources to conduct what is called “independent supply chain oversight.”  It takes a detective to figure out where these clothes and other products are actually made.

So if you are a mindful consumer of clothes, and even if you could determine where your clothes are made, what country of manufacture should you avoid?  Well, the biggest culprit countries are just those that you would expect: China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar.  China, for example, has moved toward “equal rights”, but the clothing employ migrant workers — workers unprotected by China’s “equal rights” laws.  (By the way, the same holds true for the high tech industry, as Apple, Foxxcomm, and Samsung know all too well with the repeated suicides of Chinese workers).

As a result, rural migrant workers find themselves trapped in appalling working conditions.  There are reports of women who soil themselves as they work in order to meet production demands.  They earn extremely low wages – the average monthly salary including overtime is CNY 1,690 (about $160).  Migrant workers endure long working days, work seven days a week, many without an employment contract and face constant discrimination, not to mention sexual abuse and rape from their “overseers”. The women are housed in small cramped dormitories, up to 6 women per room.   There is no maternity leave, and with no childcare facilities and working weeks of more than 70 hours many are forced to send their children to live with family in the countryside.

And they also work in a communities that are sick.  In one Chinese industrial province, for example, a dye factory has polluted the local water supply, affecting all the workers who are housed there, regardless of whether they work in that dye factory or not.  And of course the factories themselves, as the Tazreen incident shows, are below and kind of reasonable building code.

But I’ll leave the rest to John Oliver who, if anything, understates the problem:

And remember that when you buy cheap but well-made clothing, there’s a reason why it’s so inexpensive.  It’s not because the seller loves you and wants to make you happy. It’s not because it was made in the USA (because US factory workers are unionized and cost $$$$).

It’s because at the other end of the supply chain is an oppressed woman, or young girl.

Sarah Palin Interviewing Donald Trump Will Be The Best Thing Ever

In fact, this Facebook post is pretty “best thing ever” too.

I guess Sarah now works for or at a network, or maybe a website, called One America News.  Whatever.  Remember, this woman could have been VP right now, but for the fact that America was, you know, reasonable.

Sarah Palin still complaining about the “gotcha” questions.  She won’t ask any of The Donald like “What’s your favorite Bible verse” that he was asked the other day.  (That’s not a gotcha question by the way.  It’s an irrelevant one.  There’s a difference.  That Trump couldn’t name a Bible verse is HIS fault.)

And she’s still using “going rogue”.  That’s embarrassing for her.

For The Black Lives Matter Files

I suspect stories like this fly under the radar an awful lot, and nobody even knows about it:

A young black man arrested by police in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the same day that one of the city’s officers fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old, has been found dead in jail after spending almost four months behind bars without bail for stealing groceries worth $5.

Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities. While his body is still awaiting an autopsy, senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

“As of right now it is deemed ‘natural causes’,” Natasha Perry, the master jail officer at the Hampton Roads regional jail in Portsmouth, said of his death in an interview. Perry said there were no obvious outward signs of injury to the 24-year-old’s body.

Mitchell’s family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing. A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven.

Mitchell was a chain-smoker, had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  None of those things, however, should have caused his death of “natural causes” at the age of 24.

Setting aside, if possible, his death (which, I am sorry, IS suspicious) why the hell is a black man in jail, without bail, for four months, for stealing $5 worth of groceries?

Why Ben Shapiro Is An Ass (And Peggy Noonan Is A Liar)

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This is so unbelievably bizarre.  Esquire even calls it “the dumbest response to the Virginia TV shooting”.  Shaprio (and Breitbart.com, which posted this — Shapiro is the Editor) argues this:  After the Charleston shootings, he says, the “entire political and media establishment” blamed the Confederate flag.  So if they were consistent, he goes on, then we should blame Black Lives Matter and gay pride.

How do you break down lies so compactly mashed together?  No, nobody blamed the Confederate flag in the Charleston shootings.  In fact, there was no mention of the Confederate flag in the mainstream media for about a week afterwards (Shapiro seems to forget that we were all alive when the Charleston shootings happened a few months ago so his attempts to spin it are embarrassing).  However, to the extent that everyone attributed to the Charleston shooting to racism — well, the shooter himself said that was the reason (and the only reason)

And finally, we don’t blame the gun.  This is perhaps the most disingenuous argument coming from the right.  It is this stupid notion that the left blames the thing.  We don’t blame heroin when someone uses heroin, but we still ban it.  Because it is dangerous and some people will use it.  We control it because it is inherently dangerous in the wrong hands.  Is that so complicated?

They are sniffing glue or something at Breitbart.

RELATED ASS-DOM:  Peggy Noonan writes this in the Wall Street Journal — for real:

Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”

Stop the presses.  Peggy Noonan knows a guy who works at a deli who heard a radio show where some Latin people said they liked Trump.  MUST be a tectonic plate shift, right?

On Earth, however….

A new Gallup poll released Monday evening found that 65 percent of Hispanic voters say they have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared with 14 percent who view him favorably— yielding him a net favorable score of -51, well below any other presidential candidate.

UPDATE #2:  From the same Peggy Noonan article, there’s more evidence other than the Dominican Deli focus group…..

I’ve written before about an acquaintance—late 60s, northern Georgia, lives on Social Security, voted Obama in ’08, not partisan, watches Fox News, hates Wall Street and “the GOP establishment.” She continues to be so ardent for Mr. Trump that she not only watched his speech in Mobile, Ala., on live TV, she watched while excitedly texting with family members—middle-class, white, independent-minded—who were in the audience cheering. Is that “the Republican base”? I guess maybe it is, because she texted me Wednesday to say she’d just registered Republican. I asked if she’d ever been one before. Reply: “No, never!!!”

That’s interesting, Peggy.  One problem: there is no party registration in Georgia.  Make stuff up much?

Steve Benen weighs in:

And 43 years ago, everyone Pauline Kael knew just couldn’t wait to vote for McGovern.
Look, I’m willing to take Noonan at her word. Let’s say she really does have occasional chats with the guy behind her local deli counter. Let’s also say her – and Cesar’s – characterization of the callers to the local radio station are accurate. While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and assume that the conservative pundit just happens to keep meeting immigrants out in the world who share her ideology.
Even if we concede all of this, the mistake is assuming it matters. Noonan is extrapolating from her personal experiences, which may feel persuasive on an individual level, but which is a poor way of understanding Americans’ attitudes in general.
A more sensible approach requires more reliable research methods. As luck would have it, we have these things called “polls,” and the independent polling of late suggests Noonan’s personal experiences are inconsistent with broad national trends.
Trump is many things, but increasingly popular with Latino voters and immigrant communities isn’t one of them.

RT @nxthompson: Good news: stock market has little bearing on economy.
Bad news: that’s partly bc profits don’t go to workers now.

Rollercoasters Go Up Too

So after a huge “crash” at the beginning of the week, the Dow flies up 619 points yesterday, and today (as 11:18am), it was up almost 280 points.

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So here’s the question: will all the GOP politicians and pundits who blamed Obama for “Black Monday” give him credit for the recovery of yesterday and today?

Don’t hold your breath.

Kentucky County Clerk Still Defying Court Order

Citing her Christian faith and constitutional right to religious liberty, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis refused to issue a marriage license to William Smith Jr. and James Yates after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage this summer.

She was taken to court.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis to issue marriage licenses two weeks ago. He later delayed that ruling until Aug. 31 or until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling.

Yesterday, the appeals court ruled; it denied Davis’ appeal.

So guess what happened this morning?

9:45 a.m.

William Smith Jr. and James Yates strode Thursday morning into their county clerk’s office for their third attempt to get a marriage license. The office of Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis once again denied them, despite an order from a federal appeals court issued hours earlier that upheld a judge’s directive to issue the licenses.

***

10:20 a.m.

William Smith Jr. and James Yates walked out of the clerk’s office, shaking their heads in bewilderment . . . they were turned away again.

“They just don’t like gay people, they don’t want us to get married,” Yates said. “And they’d rather burn the earth and not let straight people in Rowan County get married either.”

A deputy clerk in Davis’ office told Smith and Yates that the office believes Bunning’s delay remains in effect until Aug. 31. He refused to give his name or give them a license.

These religious hicks.

Gun Problem? Us?

“We don’t have a gun problem. We have a criminal problem. We have a society that thinks it’s completely permissible to shirk responsibility. We have people who have no problem with what Planned Parenthood does in terms of fetal parts harvesting. We don’t teach a respect for life. We glorify violence in movie, music, film and books. This is what our society is. This is Frankenstein’s monster. This is what society has created. It is a reflection of us.”

Fox news pundit Dana Lausch

“This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem… It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”

GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump

I’m not quite sure why these arguments are still in the air.  Other countries have everything that we have — mental illness, “violent” video games and movies, etc.  Yet they don’t have all these murders and suicides due to handguns.  What do they have that we don’t have?  Gun control.

This isn’t rocket science.

The Onion, from 2014. You can guess the reference.

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

RT @WillMcAvoyACN: For those of you who were following earlier and were wondering… yes, BELGIUM has a gun registry.

RT @WillMcAvoyACN: .@OscarGaldona
Sweden has a gun registry.
Norway, France, Austria, Iceland, Finland, Germany & New Zealand all have gun …

RT @JenKirkman: Equality isn’t just about voting rights or equal pay (which we still don’t have, or ERA) – women worldwide being slaves is …

Jorge Ramos Commits A Heinous Act Of Journalism

So Trump gave another news conference last night that was an exercise in rudeness.

Basically what happened was this:

Jorge Ramos, the Univision anchor and journalist, extensively squabbled with Donald Trump twice in testy exchanges at a news conference before his rally here Tuesday, with a security officer at one point ejecting Ramos from the event.

“Go back to Univision,” Trump told Ramos early in their first back-and-forth. Ramos had attempted to engage with Trump on his positions, though he had not been called upon, standing and lobbing concerns about Trump’s plan at the candidate.

“Sit down. Sit down. Sit down,” Trump said.

***

Ramos did return, but the ensuing exchange was far from polite.

“Here’s the problem with your immigration plan. It’s full of empty promises,” Ramos said, when allowed back into the press room.

He charged that Trump’s agenda to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to stop giving automatic citizenship to their children born on U.S. soil was unrealistic, but Trump defended his plan as simple and possible. He reminded Ramos of his $500 million lawsuit against Univision and told him, “I have a bigger heart than you do.”

After Trump said Wednesday that Ramos was “ranting and raving like a mad man.”

American journalists are wringing their hands over what Ramos said and did, saying that he was not engaging in journalism, but advocacy.  This is silly, and I agree with Greenwald as to why:

Here we find, yet again, the enforcement of unwritten, very recent, distinctively corporatized rules of supposed “neutrality” and faux objectivity which all Real Journalists must obey, upon pain of being expelled from the profession. A Good Journalist must pretend they have no opinions, feign utter indifference to the outcome of political debates, never take any sides, be utterly devoid of any human connection to or passion for the issues they cover, and most of all, have no role to play whatsoever in opposing even the most extreme injustices.

Thus: you do not call torture “torture” if the U.S. government falsely denies that it is; you do not say that the chronic shooting of unarmed black citizens by the police is a major problem since not everyone agrees that it is; and you do not object when a major presidential candidate stokes dangerous nativist resentments while demanding mass deportation of millions of people. These are the strictures that have utterly neutered American journalism, drained it of its vitality and core purpose, and ensured that it does little other than serve those who wield the greatest power and have the highest interest in preserving the status quo.

What is more noble for a journalist to do: confront a dangerous, powerful billionaire-demagogue spouting hatemongering nonsense about mass deportation, or sitting by quietly and pretending to have no opinions on any of it and that “both sides” are equally deserving of respect and have equal claims to validity? As Ramos put it simply, in what should not even need to be said: “I’m a reporter. My job is to ask questions. What’s ‘totally out of line’ is to eject a reporter from a press conference for asking questions.”

Being neutral and unaggressive is how they get things past journalists.

Terrible Live Shooting On TV This Morning

Troubling video (not bloody, but shocking)

Both the reporter and the cameraman are dead.

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During an interview on CNN, General Manager Jeffrey Marks confirmed that today was Parker’s last day with the station. Marks also said that Ward’s fiancee Melissa Ott was in the control room during the broadcast, and saw the shooting happen live. From the video shot by the cameraman (as he died), a frame may have caught the shooter. 11935115_10156061166125093_4992410002731105501_n 

This all happened at 7:45 a.m. today during a live interview in the town of Moneta, Virginia. A manhunt for the shooter is on. Let me state the obvious before everyone else does:

(1)  Yes, the only reason this is “news” is because it happened on TV.  But double murders happen all the time.
(2)  Yes, the victims are white, although honestly, when black people are shot and it is recorded, we pay attention then as well.
(3)  This would be a good time for the candidates to speak up about gun control.  Watch the GOP candidates say instead that this is a time for “prayers” so that they never have to address gun control.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m. — Shooter is apparently a disgruntled employee of the TV station.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m. — Suspect identified as Vester Lee Flanigan (or Lester Lee Flanigan?), a light-skinned black man, who is about 6’3″, 250lbs and driving a gray 2009 Ford Mustang with Virginia license plates WZE-8846.  Police are in pursuit on Interstate 81 In a related story, of local interest, the second guy in the local (Rockingham County NC) manhunt was caught last night.  So that happened.

UPDATE 11:25 a.m.  Ugh. This story gets worse and worse. The shooter (Flanigan) goes by the name of Bryce Williams. He was a reporter at the station. And he started sharing video of the shooting (from his vantage point) on his Twitter account (which has been shut down) and Facebook page (also shut down). The video is very graphic and people are very good about not posting (or viewing it).  I’ve seen it, but I won’t post or link to it.  You can see him walk up to her and draw his gun and aim it at her (image below).  Nobody notices.  He puts the gun down and steps back a step or two.  Another 3 or 4 seconds pass.  Suddenly he lifts the gun and fires.  Alison Parker is seen running off.  The screen goes black and you hear more shots.   You don’t actually see anyone get hit, but it is startling.

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And more about the shooter now….  

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UPDATE 11:55 a.m. – Not dead, but in critical condition.

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. – Okay.  Now confirmed dead.

And now a motive — or rather several of them — emerge:

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harrisand Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”

In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family.”

–He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work

–He says he has been attacked by black men and white females

–He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man

“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”

RT @jameysingleton: Screengrab of possible shooting suspect at Bridgewater Plaza from WDBJ viewer. 122 is closed both directions…. http:/…

RT @4cast4you: Unbelievable shooting on live TV in the Roanoke area this morning. Prayers to my friends at WDBJ7. http://t.co/q8ob9mI8VL
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Good local Tweet-reporting by @DBattagliaNR who is out there as police search for remaining “armed and dangerous” suspect in Rockingham Co.

Because I’m spending a week at the beach next week, this happens…. http://t.co/kApgU3PTVz
because-im-spending-a-week-at-the-beach-next-week-this-happens-httpt-cokapgu3ptvz 

Failing The Bechdel Test

Know your memes, people.  If you don’t know what the Bechdel Test is, this is how wikipedia describes its:

The Bechdel test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.

The Bechdel test is used to demonstrate how one-dimensional women are depicted in fiction.

It is surprising how many movies, for example, fail the Bechdel Test.  The website bechdeltest.com is a user-edited database of some 4,500 films classified by whether or not they pass the test, with the added requirement that the women must be named characters. As of April 2015, it listed 58% of these films as passing all three of the test’s requirements, 10% as failing one, 22% as failing two, and 10% as failing all three.

Writer Charles Stross noted that about half of the films that do pass the test only do so because the women talk about marriage or babies.  This isn’t necessarily misogyny — even movies and TV aimed at women fail the Bechdel test more often than not (see, Sex and the City).

The phrase comes from the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who, in a 1985 strip from her comic Dykes to Watch Out For, introduced the idea as a winking criticism of male-dominated movies:

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(Actually, it should be called the Bechdel-Wallace test, as The Atlantic informs us today).

Why do I mention this?  Because someone new has failed the Bechdel test — a different Bechdel test.  Because Ms. Bechdel is also known for writing the graphic autobiographical novel, Fun Home (now a Broadway musical).  And it was assigned to incoming freshman at Duke University.  But there’s a problem:

….Duke University…  politely request[ed] that the incoming freshman class read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, an award-winning graphic novel that has (as CNNputs it) “sexual themes and use of nudity.” That’s right, America: Use. Of. Nudity.

Fun Home is an autobiographical story about Bechdel’s childhood, with memories about growing up as a lesbian interlaced with memories about her occasionally abusive father and his (closeted) homosexuality. It’s has won numerous awards, the most prestigious of which is its inclusion in The A.V. Club’s list of the best comics of the ‘00s. Prestige aside, though, it does have sexual themes and use of nudity, so—according to The Duke Chronicle—a handful of the school’s incoming freshman have declared that they refuse to read it on the grounds that it is new and scary.

Or, as one such freshman put it on his Facebook: “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That same student said that Duke’s decision to put Fun Home on a recommended reading list was “insensitive to people with more conservative beliefs,” adding that it was “like Duke didn’t know we existed.” The Duke Chronicle quotes another student as acknowledging that it “discussed important topics,” but she “could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.” One guy explained that the sexual content is fine and that he “might have consented” to read it in print, but the fact that it has drawings of boobs or whatever “violates [his] conscience.” Another student even suggested that Fun Home shook her entire perception of Duke, saying that she asked herself what kind of school would do something as horrible as suggest that incoming students read an award-winning book about a woman’s struggles with sexual identity.

Apparently, some students want to go to a prestigious college and keep their mind closed to new ideas.  It’s the school’s responsibility to step up and teach them. Duke should challenge these beliefs head-on, rather than dismiss these refusals to read Fun Home as minor quibbles.

Those objecting Duke freshmen would be far better served, watching and listeningto the amazing Sydney Lucas sing ‘Ring of Keys’ from the Broadway show. They might just learn something.

RT @HillaryClinton: Jeb is just wrong.

GOP Hispanic Outreach

Hispanics deserve candidates and a party that will fight for their vote. In working to earn Hispanics’ trust, though, Republicans have to remember that it’s not just about what we say, but how we say it. Our principles are sound, but we have to be thoughtful in how we discuss them. Too often, a candidate’s tone can turn off voters, promote divisiveness, and feed mischaracterizations of our party. So if your tone isn’t welcoming and inclusive, you’re doing it wrong.

***

So, my fellow Republicans, it’s up to us to keep Democrats from taking Hispanic voters for granted. It’s up to Republicans to tell our story and offer a better way. And it’s up to every one of us to engage with Hispanic voters. If you’re not doing that now, get with it.

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, September 18, 2013.

Priebus, who just today called Trump a “net positive” for Republicans, isn’t the only one to pick up on this.  In 2004, George W. Bush won over 40 percent of the Latino vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney won 27 percent. Many leading Republican pundits (like Karl Rove) say that the Republican Party needs to win more Latino votes if it wants to win back the White House.

So how’s that going?

GOP Hispanic approval

The GOP frontrunner, by 11 points over the second placer, has a net -51 favorable-to-unfavorable.  What is killing The Donald, and by extension the GOP, is the immigration issue, and the almost daily slamming of “Mexican” immigrants.  You may wonder why, since immigrants don’t vote.

That’s true, but there are 3.3 million of these Latino eligible voters — and the majority of them are the children of immigrants. 57 percent of Latinos who’ll be eligible to vote for the first time in 2016, the study finds, have at least one immigrant parent.

By the way, the Dems are doing fine on this.

Democratic Hispanic approval

So obviously, this goes to the conventional wisdom that what is good for the GOP in the primaries is bad for them in the general.  Trump cannot win the Latino vote, and in fact, he may be energizing the Latino vote to come out and vote against him.

UPDATE:  File under “too little too late”….

Advocacy group National Hispanic Media Coalition says it was “quietly” contacted last week by the Trump Organization’s head of strategic development, proposing a peace-making meeting. Politico quotes coalition CEO Alex Nogales regarding three calls the advocacy group has received from the Trump camp—first, one threatening to sue, a second attempting to change what Trump had said about Mexicans and “the third time was ‘Let’s get together to talk so we can solve our differences.’”

RT @BenjySarlin: Hard to keep track of the GOP statements praising Obama for today’s stock rally after criticizing him for Monday selloff, …

Meet Campaign Zero

I, among others, have wondered aloud what the Black Lives Matter movement actually wanted beyond just being “listened to”.   After all, I argued, black people are dying, and while raging against the machine might feel cathartic, it is not actually going to result in concrete changes.  Hillary Clinton made this point as well when she met with BLM activists.  She wanted to know, as did I, what sort of concrete initiatives were they interested in?

I’m happy to see that BLM activists have now come up with exactly what everyone’s been asking for. It’s called Campaign Zero, and it even comes with its own nifty graphic:

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Some of these demands are easy: police body cams, for example, have become widely supported on both right and left, and by both activists and police. Others are a little harder: independent investigations of police shootings and better representation of minorities on police forces aren’t universally supported, but they do have fairly wide backing already. And some are more difficult: it will be tough to wean police forces off their up-armored humvees and challenging to end the vogue for broken-windows policing.

That said, these are all specific and achievable goals. They even have a fact sheet here that tracks some of the presidential candidates and where they stand on each issue. But since most law enforcement activities are run at the state, city or county level, this kind of fact sheet needs to be done locally as well.

All in all, this is very good. BLM won’t get everything it wants—nobody ever does—but Campaign Zero should allow them to avoid the fate of Occupy Wall Street, which generated a ton of passion but never really offered any place to channel it. BLM has now done both, and has a good shot at making their issues important ones during the upcoming presidential campaign.

Whheeeee Again!

Nothing like listening to tens of thousands of dollars slip out of your 401(k) in a matter of minutes, which is what I was doing this morning.  The Dow dropped 1,082 points.  The “circuit breakers” — the 7% dropoff point where trading is automatically stopped (to prevent a crash) — were set to go at a drop of 1,157, which we didn’t quite reach.  But everything was down 6.5% within minutes of the opening bell.  It made Friday’s drop off look like an anthill.

The Dow rebounded so that right now — at 10:00 am (half an hour after opening) — we are down about 650 points (around 4%).

And now it is 511 down (10:06 am EDT).  Here’s the 5-day so you can see the dramatic fall this morning.

8-24dow

This was not unexpected.  China virtually lost all its gains from the past year last night (it went down 8.5%).  China’s stock market is plummeting.  You know how people are about Greece being totally bankrupt?  Well, China has lost the equivalent of 15 Greeces in market capital…. just in the past three weeks!  I won’t get into the details, but basically, China’s stock market is based on debt, and the Chinese government has an monetary policy that has propped up its stock market falsely.  The Chinese government used monetary policy, state-owned banks, local governments, and other tools under its control to push internal investment. The result was a massive buildup in factories, highways, airports, real estate, and much more. Some of these investments were wise. Many weren’t. China has become famous for its profusion of empty stadiums, skyscrapers, and even cities. They were able to do this because the average Chinese investor is illiterate and has bought stocks on debt… because the communist government has told him to.  The result?  A stock market boom, that eventually ended up with a lot of overcapacity and bad debt.  In other words, the value of a Chinese company is not accurately reflected by its stock price, which is the only way a stock market can work.

Usually, when one market goes down, the other markets do as well, because of the multi-national aspect of the world economy.  But the crash now has less to do with the Chinese market than fears of Chinese political upheaval.  If the Chinese economy goes really south, and factories close and people lose their life savings, the people will uprise like they did with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.  This is bad news for many multinational companies.  So many of our high tech products and clothes are made in China (despite the human rights abuses and the deplorable rape factories and slave labor factories).  So political unrest in China gives rise to unpredictability, and that’s why our market struggles.

Analysts are saying to ride this out, which is what most of us with 401(k)s are doing, since we have no choice.

Crude oil hit a new low this morning, too —  $38.13 a barrel.  That’s due to OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia pumping oil into the economy, and U.S. fracking which is at an all-time production high (and why Oklahoma has so many earthquakes). What does that mean to you?

(1)  Don’t be surprised to see gas prices fall below $2.00

(2)  Don’t be surprised to see this economic slump last a while.

UPDATE:  As of 10:22 am EDT, Dow is down only 316 points (or 1.9%).  Could be people taking advantage of low stocks from earlier.  In any event, volatility seems to have slowed down and things are settling down.  The hit wasn’t that bad…… so far.

UPDATE #2:  Still around 2% down, so…. no biggie really.  Thought I would share this chart with the admonition not to panic. Why not?  The drop pales in comparison to all the gains the market has made over the past decade.

CNLXnSkWgAAZQMK

 

UPDATE #3:   Dow started tanking toward the end of the day.  It closed down 566.47, or 3.58%.  Not the worst day ever.  Comparable to Friday.

Rollercoaster DOWN On Wall Street

Wheeeee!  Dow dropped over 500 today (and over 300 yesterday).  Let’s look at the past six weeks:

wheeee

Nice little dip there at the end, huh?

What’s going on?  It’s China.  It’s always China.  They are having hard economic times.  So everybody feels it.  The people I feel sorriest for are the Chinese workers making our Apple and Samsung products, as well as our fashionable women’s clothes.  (Actually, the conditions for Chinese workers in Apple and Samsung are getting marginally better).  Those people are going to be working 24/7 under forced labor.  And their kids.

Looking forward to @TigNotaro HBO special “Boyish Girl Interrupted”. Her Netflix special was one of the most moving documentaries I’ve seen

Tensions In The Koreas

This is ugly:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered front-line military units to enter “a wartime state” after an exchange of fire with South Korea, his country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Friday.

The announcement, employing bellicose language typical of North Korea, adds to the edgy situation in the region.

The two sides traded artillery fire over their heavily fortified border on Thursday afternoon, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

Two shells came from the North Korean side, the ministry said, and South Korea fired dozens of shells in response.

No casualties were reported from the exchange of fire.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but North Korea is freaking crazy.  Well, Kim Jung Un is.  Last week, he put North Korea on its own unique time zone.  (North Koreans already have their own calendar. Instead of counting from the birth of Christ, they count from the birth of founding leader, Kim Il Sung. Kim was born in 1912 — known in North Korea as Juche 1, making this year Juche 104.)  And he’s got nukes (maybe).

Both North and South Korea are blaring propaganda messages over loudspeakers at each other.  Which is better than the alternative, I suppose.

This all comes as the United States and South Korea are engaged in joint military exercises.

Military analysts are saying this “military theater” rather than actual military engagement, and that Kim Jung Un has the most to lose from an actual military engagement.  That’s good — I hope HE knows that.

I see scattered reports that North Korea is having Internet problems….

… but nothing in the mainstream news.  Maybe we’re messing with North Korea.  Or maybe the change in time zones is screwing them up in a Y2K kind of way.

Tensions are always high when it comes to North Korea, but this is a little unnerving.

This Tweet Poses An Interesting Question Re: Ashley Madison

The problem of course is…. what if you are able to search the database, and you find your spouse, knowing that there are millions of fraudulent accounts there?  I guess it warrants a conversation, at a minimum, with your spouse.  But he can still deny it.  And THEN where are you?

But then again, if you have to ask the question, there is probably something wrong with your marriage to begin with.  Lack of trust ruins relationships (or, at least, the quality of them).  And lack of trust can come from (a) you being overly suspicious (statistics vary, but affairs are well over 33% of all marriages) or (b) your spouse doing things to warrant your distrust.  Or both.

Either way, would-be spouse-sleuths might want to consider that delving into Ashley Madison might be a symptom of the problem, i.e., your suspicion — without evidence — is causing marital discord.  Because just by looking, you create distrust.  And that’s not good.  Now, if you have some reason (other than your “gut”) and/or distrust already exists, then you might want to check it out.

But in the end, I don’t see any good coming from it.

P.S.  It’s also worth noting that many websites and ads purporting to have a searchable Ashley Madison database are actually virus-laden hacks themselves.

An Observation

Isn’t it amusing that conservatives claim to love America, but want to wave the Confederate flag which was used by several states in its war against America?

Isn’t it amusing how conservatives claim to love the Constitution, but when it is explained to them what it says, they want to change it?

Scientists are crediting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for breakthroughs in research http://t.co/mgPxTeOzzj

The Dishonest Attack On Shaun King

shaunkingI saw this story bubbling a couple days ago, and even the mainstream media was touching it.  Certainly, Fox was.  It has to do with the race of a #BlackLivesMatter activist named Shaun King.  In the blogosphere, Breitbart “News” seems to have launched a virulent attack Shaun King, alleging that he’s been lying about his heritage like Rachel Dolezal, and is actually white, not black.

Here’s Shaun King’s response to this mess, posted at Daily Kos, and it’s a damned shame that he even had to write this: Race, Love, Hate, and Me: A Distinctly American Story. I won’t quote from this; just go and read it.

Shame on the mainstream journalists who fell for yet another creepy hit piece from right wing blogs they should have known better than to trust as sources. How many times do they need to get burned before they learn this lesson?

RT @AdamSerwer: Lots of black people in America have family members who look like Shaun King. But you’d have to know some black people to k…

Welcome To The Post-Citizens United World

Ready for this?

In the early presidential fundraising returns, half the $388 million contributed so far came from fewer than 400 families, with 62 donors giving at least $1 million. As the Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal put it, “For the first time in more than a century, the majority of funding for a presidential election is coming in six-figure or larger checks from corporations and the wealthiest Americans.”

Trumps Reaction To Hate Crime — He Hits A New Low

This turns my stomach:

The homeless man was lying on the ground, shaking, when police arrived early Wednesday. His face was soaked, apparently with urine, his nose broken, his chest and arms battered.

Police said two brothers from South Boston ambushed the 58-year-old as he slept outside of a Dorchester MBTA stop, and targeted him because he is Hispanic. One of the brothers said he was inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

***

Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame . . . I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Those ellipses might mean anything, but one thing is clear — Trump’s pivot from discussion of a hate crime to the passion of those who follow him, is nothing short of sick.  No, Donald Trump isn’t explicitly saying it’s okay to beat people up because of how they look (but at least two men have interpreted it that way).  The correct thing to do is to tell them, and the rest of his followers, that that interpretation is unequivocally wrong.  Instead he frames the abhorrent crim as a moderately regrettable downside of his movement’s “passion.”

UPDATE — Over 24 hours later since he was first asked….

Ashley Madison Claims Its First “Celebrity” Victim

I’m not going to say who it was, although it is someone already “disgraced”.  And I put “celebrity” in quotes, because this guy is more of a reality show star, than an actual celebrity.

There is a certain schadenfreude at this “family values” guy being revealed as someone who cheats on his wife through Ashley Madison, but I think the bigger story is that his name was leaked at all.  The lesson to be learned from the Ashley Madison leak is NOT “don’t cheat on your spouse” (although you shouldn’t) — the lesson to be learned is be very careful what you put online.  No more secrets.

UPDATE:  Okay, since he has fessed up, I’m talking about this guy, who, in a statement today, calls himself the “biggest hypocrite ever”.

RT @AnneClaireCNN: #CNN: President Jimmy Carter reveals doctors have found 4 spots of melanoma on his brain: his first radiation treatment …

RT @cnnbrk: St. Louis police use tear gas, make 9 arrests during protests after officer killed man earlier in day. http://t.co/TkP6dGPhVV

Does BLM Want To Change Minds Or Change The Law?

Last week I gave a full-throated defense of myself and others who had taken issue with the tactics of Black Lives Matter.  This came in the wake of a Seattle political event involving Bernie Sanders, where two BLM activists took the stage as Sanders started speaking, and effectively hijacked the agenda (as well as hijacking Sanders).  Sander never got to speak.  In my previous post, I said it was not a good idea to attack people who are normally allied with your position, as you need to engage in coalition-building in order to effect meaningful change.

I attributed it to a generation gap within the civil rights movement.  The New York Times thinks so too.

Now BLM protesters, true to their word, are going after other candidates as well.  They attempted to do the same thing at a Hillary Clinton event, but were blocked by the Secret Service.  To her credit, Clinton met privately with the BLM protesters.  BLM made a video of the meeting and released it yesterday.

The disconnect was obvious, as CNN explains (emphases mine):

The activists filmed the encounter and released the video in twoparts on Monday night. The Clinton campaign also provided CNN with a transcript of the exchange.

The activists, led by Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston, pressed Clinton on her family’s role in promoting “white supremacist violence against communities of color.”

Clinton acknowledged during the conversation that laws put into place by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, did not work out as planned.

“I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the ’80s and the early ’90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now,” she said. “And that’s what I’m trying to figure out and that’s what I intend to do as president.”

But Clinton also told the protesters that she was “not sure” she agreed with the activists that her husband’s policies were racist.

“I do think that a lot of what was tried and how it was implemented has not produced the kinds of outcomes that any of us would want,” she said. “But I also believe that there are systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law.”

The activists did not appear to be won over by their conversation with Clinton.

Yancey told reporters earlier this month that she never heard “a reflection on (Clinton’s) part in perpetuating white supremacist violence” and that Clinton “gave the answer she wanted to give.”

Two of the activists shared their disappointment with Clinton’s response on CNN on Tuesday.

“Her policy response — if it’s not addressing the anti-blackness inherent in some of the previous polices, we’re just going to see that thread continue,” Yancey said. “And that’s what we’re looking to hear. What’s shifted? What’s changed for Hillary Clinton that’s going to make us believe that she’s going to take this country in a different direction in terms of race?”

Specifically, what Clinton didn’t seem to appreciate the insinuation. “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems,”

I don’t understand this need of BLM to get people like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to admit things they shouldn’t admit to.  Neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton were promoting white supremacist violence.  Period.  They just weren’t.  You can make the argument that was an unintended consequence of flawed policies, but to say that the Clintons were promoting white supremacy?  Simply crazy.  And good for Hillary (and Bernie) for standing their ground on that.

Over at Balloon Juice, Betty Cracker gets annoyed:

It seemed to me that the BLM Boston reps who met with Hillary were more interested in getting her to own up to her role in advocating for Bill Clinton’s anti-crime policies than discussing policymaking going forward. One of the activists, Daunasia Yancy, expressed disappointment that she didn’t hear “a reflection on (Clinton’s) part in perpetuating white supremacist violence.”

While I admire Yancy’s commitment, the mom in me found it impossible to resist the urge to face-palm when I read that comment. Clinton is a candidate for president, and you expect her to reflect on her personal role in “perpetuating white supremacist violence”? Lots of luck with that. Here is Clinton’s response to BLM’s opening salvo about systemic racism:

“Your analysis is totally fair. It’s historically fair. It’s psychologically fair. It’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it.’”

That didn’t sit well with one of the activists, Julius Jones, who basically accused Clinton of whitesplaining (not in so many words, but that was the gist) at the beginning of the second video, which can be seen here. And Clinton got a tad snippy in return.

Here’s a rough, edited-for-length transcript of the exchange referred to above:

JONES: “If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do.”

CLINTON: “I’m not telling you, I’m just telling you to tell me.”

JONES: “This is and has always been a white problem of violence. There’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us.”

CLINTON: “If that is your position, then I will talk with only to white people about how we are going to deal with very real problems.”

JONES: “What you just said was a form of victim-blaming. You were saying what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to is change white hearts is to…”

CLINTON: “I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate…you’re not going to change every heart. You’re not…you may change some hearts, but if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

It’s worth watching both videos, which unfold not unlike some of the discussions seen here and elsewhere.

But BLM Boston has been slamming HRC on Twitter ever since the videos were released last night.

***

BLM Boston has its agenda — they are idealists. Hillary Clinton has hers — she is a pragmatist. What did you think?

Spot on.  I think that is part of the disconnect.  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are politicians.  They FIX things.  You certainly understand (and I think Clinton and Sanders understand) the anxiety and desperation of the BLM protesters they encounter.  But that just can’t be all there is to the movement, can it?  Like me, John Cole hopes not, but he doesn’t know what else to do:

[I]t’s not difficult to fear the same thing happening to BLM that happened to OWS [Occupy Wall Street]. Granted, the movements are not the same. Economic inequality lacks the urgent life or death reality that face the black community, as their lives really are at risk for just doing what white people like me do every day and don’t think twice about it. Things like driving to the grocery store, or walking down the street, or going to the pool, or, well, basically anything seems to be excuse enough to shoot a black person these days. So there is an urgency that separates the two movements.

There are also similarities- mostly structural, in that a decentralized organic movement like this has all kinds of different actors with different ideals and different attitudes towards what is productive and what is not. There is no rigid leadership structure, and were there one, it would probably kill the movement anyway. People who follow protest movements are in a much better position to discuss this than I am, so I will just stop there.

But one key similarity that OWS and BLM have in common that continues to lead to these uncomfortable Jerry Maguire/Rod Tidwell “Help me help you” moments such as the most recent video….  Economic inequality and racial inequality are such large foundations of what this country is and what we are made of that no one really knows where to start in a way that will succeed. It’s just that entrenched in our society, and the issues of racial and economic inequality are concomitantly inexorably intertwined yet disparate issues. This is, after all, a nation that was literally built on the backs of slaves, yet race is not the key reason that so much economic inequality exists.

***

So while we may have reached a tipping point with the populace screaming for change, the deck is so stacked against us in favor of those already with institutional and economic power that really, it’s difficult to figure out where to go and what to do, and screaming for change becomes just screaming. This is not a bug, this is by design.

***

So we’re back at the beginning. How do you harness the energy of movements like BLM and make actual, tangible, immediate things happen? And how do you stop people from yelling at each other when they are basically on the same side to focus the rage where it belongs- into real plans of action? If you know, you’re smarter than me. And, apparently, the Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley campaigns.

When you read of the account in Vanity Fair, you can see this is a contest of idealism versus pragmatism, with Clinton pushing the latter:

In a move that recalled some of the criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Clinton pressed the activists to come up with specific demands. She pointed to the civil-rights movement, the gay-rights movement, and the women’s-rights movements as examples of progress achieved through a detailed road map of lawsuits and actions. “You can get lip service from as many white people you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it who are going to say, ‘We get it, we get it. We are going to be nicer,’” she said. “That’s not enough, at least in my book.”

The BLM protester seems to get that.

In a second video, Jones appears to respond to Clinton’s answer by taking issue with the recommendation, arguing that the issues the Black Lives Matter movement is working on—incarceration, police use of force, systemic inequalities in the justice system—are not ones that can be fixed by actions on the part of black people. “I say this as respectfully as I can: if you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do,” Jones said. “This is and has always been a white problem of violence.”

I genuinely don’t think Clinton was telling Yancey, Jones, and the other activists that they need to come up with policy to rescue themselves from white supremacy (although I understand why Jones interpreted it that way, and I almost certainly would have done the same in the moment); I think she was saying, “Design the policy you want to see, because my role is a policymaker.”

This is the schism that I have noticed.

I can certainly understand Clinton’s response:

Clinton didn’t seem to appreciate the insinuation. “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems,” she said. “Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not.”

“But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential,” Clinton continued. “You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

It seems to me — and of course, I’m a white man and haven’t lived with this problem every day — that BLM isn’t set on what it wants, other than to identify the problem and make sure everyone knows what the problem is.  But some of us (me, the Clintons, Sanders) are already there, and have already been there for…. decades.  We want to SOLVE it, and I’m not sure BLM knows or cares or, most likely, believes that (perhaps they are too pessimistic to think that a solution is real or that the sincerity is real).  So then what is the next step for pragmatists?

Changes, turn and face the strain.

UPDATE:  More voices to add to the mix.  The subject is Bill Clinton’s 1994 “Tough On Crime” bill.  David Lind at Vox:

But when one activist associates the bill with a project of “white supremacist violence,” Clinton buckles. She takes it as a statement about intent: that laws like the 1994 crime bill were deliberately passed out of malice toward black communities. And so she counters that she and her husband were deeply concerned about black victims of crime, and were simply acting out of a desire to protect them…

The problem is that the conversation isn’t clear whether “extension of white supremacist violence” is about the intent of these policies or their consequences. This is a common problem with discussion of racism: Structural racism isn’t about feelings in individuals’ hearts, it’s about systems and outcomes. But it’s easy to slip from talking about systems to talking about people, and that’s what happened here.

Personally, I think the intent simply doesn’t matter. Clinton herself said, “You don’t change hearts. You change laws.” What matters is the external reality, not the feelings of the people who create it; caring about people will not save you from making policy choices that will hurt them.

In other words, iintent doesn’t matter — if law has a bad effect to black people, it is racist even if the intentions are good.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum has the response:

Lind suggests that intent doesn’t matter. Something is racist if it has racist consequences. But I think you have to be pretty careful about that. Lind is right that, whether racially inspired or not, it’s important to face structural racism clearly and work relentlessly to overcome it. Nonetheless, intent does matter. Calling someone racist does nothing except make matters worse unless they really do have racist intent.

My point exactly.

So was the 1994 crime bill racist in intent? No. Lots of black leaders, including black mayors who faced rising crime rates daily, supported it. Violent crime really was a huge problem—and it really was especially severe in black communities. Nobody at the time knew that lead might be the culprit for this, so they simply had to address it as best they could given what they believed. So they did. The 1994 crime bill was not a white supremacist project. It was a crime bill.

At the end of her piece, Lind argues that Hillary Clinton “doesn’t need to show she’s changed her heart. But she does need to show that she has learned, and changed her mind.” This puzzles me. Hillary has defended her support of the 1994 crime bill given what she knew at the time, but she has also proposed criminal justice reforms that make it clear she has learned and has changed her mind. If those reforms are insufficient, fine. Fight for more. But both Clintons have made it clear that their views on crime have changed. There’s simply no excuse for pretending that either one of them was involved in a conspiracy of “white supremacist violence” against black communities.

I am not sure why it is so important for BLM to have politicians label themselves as racist.  It escapes me because doing so will not save one black live.

 

Ashley Madison Hackers Release Names

The Impact Team, the name of the group that hacked the Ashley Madison website (a site owned by Avid Life Media), has released the names, addresses and phone numbers — as well as a four-digit code that could be either partial credit card numbers or just user numbers — of the 37 million users of the cheat-on-your-spouse website.

But don’t rush to a website and start looking for cheaters in your social circles.  The data is available on the Dark Web, which is part of the Internet not readily available to just anybody. Basically, it requires software and technical knowledge that I don’t have, but the information is available, and some genius tech nerdos are probably poring through the leaked names at this very moment.

Who knows?  Maybe sometime soon you’ll be able to download all 9.7 gigs of information.  But before you get giddy — yeah, it does have the makings of some sort of modern fable in which wannabe cheaters get their comeuppance — just a standard reminder that if you download it and look through it for people you might know, there’s no turning back from that. And somewhere out there, there’s a database of stuff you do that you would prefer not get out there.

Here’s the announcement of the leak, which sets forth the particular objections of the hackers:

avid-life-media-impact-team-leak-Jj3258

This sounds like someone who was caught using Ashley Madison, and was pissed that they did not do enough to keep his account secret.

I don’t know the site, although when I read that it has 37 million users, I was astounded.  Then again, if the hackers are correct, that 37 million may be “fake”.  Who knows?

But it makes little difference what the site is for.  Revealing names and phone numbers and private information is a pretty serious felony.  And it should be.  This would be true whether the hacked site is Catfancy.com or Ashley Madison.

I wonder how many marriages are going to be damaged as a result of this.  Probably not very many, as long as it stays on the Dark Web.  I wonder if that will happen.

It seems there is some truth to the assertion that Avid Life Media was lax about cyber security:

Senior staff at Ashley Madison, the hacked extramarital dating site, were raising concerns over its security procedures as recently as June, just a month before the site was attacked.

Internal documents leaked as part of the attack show concerns over “a lack of security awareness across the organisation” being raised by one vice president.

This news story is messed up in about ten different ways.

Trump’s Lawyers Found A Loophole In The Fourteenth Amendment

Quote:

But Trump insisted he and his lawyers have found some disturbing holes in the amendment, which unequivocally states that anyone born in the United States is in fact an American citizen.

The Fourteenth Amendment is a few paragraphs long, but I’ll just cut and paste Section One, the relevant section for this discussion.  Actually, only the first sentence is relevant, so I will make that bold.

Amendment XIV
Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

You do not need a law degree to make sense of the first sentence.  If you are born in the United States, you are a citizen of the United States.  That’s what it says.  It’s in English.

Now, this presents a problem for Trump and those who hate the idea of “anchor babies”, i.e., a pregnant Mexican woman takes a step across the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas, drops her baby out, and bam, that new baby is a U.S. citizen — and since it is heartless to separate the baby from the parents, they get to stay too.

Except that isn’t true.  The baby is a citizen.  The parents are not.   They have to jump through legal hurdles which can take as much as 31 years.  So the “anchor” isn’t really much of an anchor.

But even if the concern is about the child and not the parents, the argument of conservatives is this: we didn’t have the anchor baby issue back when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified (July 1868, three years after the end of the civil war).  That clause was in there so that freed slaves would automatically become American citizens.

Yes, that may have been the overriding intent, but who is to say that was the only intent?  After all, whoever wrote the Fourteenth Amendment could have just as easily written, “All those held in indentured servitude prior to this Amendment are now citizens of the United States”.  But it wasn’t written that way.  It was written for going forward.

Besides, how come that argument doesn’t work for the Second Amendment?  Clearly, the founders who wrote the Second Amendment were only familiar with flintlocks, not AK-47s.  Do conservatives really want to go down the “original intent” road?

You can be a Trump fan, but that means you can never complain about a candidate being “unpresidential” ever again for the rest of your life.

About Men’s Rights Advocates

I think men have certain limited issues that need to be addressed in the political arena (paternity leave, paternity rights with respect to child custody, for example), but to suggest that men are getting the short end of the stick in society is just plain silly, and tone deaf to real problems.  When I hear about “men’s rights” advocacy groups, my reaction to that is about the same as when I hear “white’s rights” advocacy groups.

But I kept an open mind as I read this article about men’s rights advocates.  And you know what?  These guys are just as abhorrent as I originally thought.  Now I just see them in three dimensions as opposed to two.

RELATED: Congrats to  Lt. Kristen Griest and Capt. Shaye Haver, who graduate today from Ranger School in Ft. Benning, Georgia.  These are the first two women to make the grueling cut. The intense, 62-day training course includes running at least five miles several times a week, swimming for miles in a combat uniform, a 15-mile march carrying a 65-pound pack, and an astonishing number of pushups in two minutes. Women had been historically excluded from Ranger school because it was thought they lacked the strength and stamina to complete the program, but these women proved otherwise.

Their class was initially comprised of 380 men and 19 women.  94 male members made it through (24.7% of all the men who started).  And these two women (10.5% of all the women who started)

 

RIP Julian Bond

Yet another person that #blacklivesmatter could learn from (but won’t).  This man was a legend.  He moved from militancy to a moire pragmatic (but equally passionate) means of reform.  He died at the age of 75 this weekend.

Here is the NY Times obit, and here is President Obama’s statement:

Statement by the President on the Passing of Julian Bond

Julian Bond was a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend. Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life – from his leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to his founding role with the Southern Poverty Law Center, to his pioneering service in the Georgia legislature and his steady hand at the helm of the NAACP. Michelle and I have benefited from his example, his counsel, and his friendship – and we offer our prayers and sympathies to his wife, Pamela, and his children.

Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.

Speaking of coalition-building, here is Bond six years ago speaking at the Human Rights Campaign, connecting the dots:

Quote Of The Day: Blind To Self Edition

From Florida, relating to efforts to ban The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime from a high school curriculum:

But Sue Gee, one of the parents who complained about the book, feels that Curious Case is an affront to her faith and that its casual use of swear words would be harmful to students.

I am not interested in having books banned,” said Gee, a former primary school teacher. “But to have that language and to take the name of Christ in vain — I don’t go for that. As a Christian, and as a female, I was offended.

Translation:  I am interested in having books banned.