Monthly Archives: April 2016

RT @WhiteHouse: .@AllisonBJanney
AKA CJ Cregg
AKA Bonnie on @MomCBS
drops by the White House press briefing. https://t.co/TK4NJ7TEyM

RT @mhewlettWSJ: Appeal of decison on North Carolina’s election law will be fast-tracked https://t.co/sVqvyWyIa4

RT @MaggieJordanACN: A win for equality
A SC school district reverses it’s anti-transgender bathroom policy to be in compliance w/TitleIX h…
rt-maggiejordanacn-a-win-for-equalitya-sc-school-district-reverses-its-anti-transgender-bathroom-policy-to-be-in-compliance-wtitleix-h 

Trump’s Foreign Policy: Bad, Incoherent But Not Novel

Trump gave a rambling, incoherent and contradictory speech on Wednesday on foreign policy, that was notable because it was a prepared speech which he read off the teleprompter.  That means he actually thought about what he was going to say, and it still came out horribly.  And almost everyone agrees.  Here’s Lindsey Graham’s tweets:

Lgram1Lgram2

Trump’s theme was “America First”, a slogan which history does not paint well.  It was the slogan of Charles Lindburgh and others who advocated keeping out of World War Two.  Later, it was taken up by anti-semites.

Fred Kaplan summarizes the many other problems with the speech:

He said that, because of President Obama’s policies, our friends and allies feel they can no longer depend on us—then said that a Trump administration would quit NATO and abandon our allies in Asia entirely unless they started spending more on defense.

He said that his No. 1 national-security goal would be to defeat ISIS—then said that he would work with other nations to do so only if they “appreciate what we’ve done for them,” because for us to be good to them, “they also have to be good to us.” (There’s something childish, even narcissistic, about this demand, which he recited in the tone of a desperately firm parent.)

He said, as he has many times, that our trade deficit has severely weakened America and strengthened China—then said that we have enormous economic leverage over China and that we should use it to get China to rein in North Korea.

He said we should not help any country that isn’t our friend—then proposed easing tensions with Russia. (It’s possible to hold one view or the other, but not both.)

He said he would strengthen America’s economy in order to shrink the deficit—then said he would use the extra wealth to boost jobs, then said he would use it to increase the military budget, without the slightest recognition of possible trade-offs or the need to set priorities.

Then there are the statements, many of them reprised from debates and campaign speeches, that are simply untrue. He claimed that Iran has violated the nuclear agreement, when in fact it’s abided by the terms. He added that, because of the deal, Iran has become “a great, great power”—which must come as news to Iran’s leaders, who are frustrated that, despite the lifting of sanctions, they still can’t get much trade going with the West. He said Obama has “snubbed” Israel, when in fact many Israeli military and intelligence officers credit Obama with providing more security assistance than any recent president.

Trump added that Obama has let our nuclear arsenal atrophy, when in fact the Pentagon is spending $20 billion a year to maintain and modernize it. He said Obama’s proposed defense budget for next year (which, by the way, amounts to $608 billion) is 25 percent smaller than his budget for 2011—when, in fact, it’s larger. He said that, since 1991, the active-duty U.S. Army has shrunk from 2 million troops to 1.3 million, that the Air Force is one-third smaller, and that the Navy’s force of ships has declined from 500 to 272—which may sound alarming, until you consider (which Trump hasn’t) that the Cold War ended in 1991: It would be strange if the military hadn’t shrunk since then.

And there were the bombastic pronouncements with no basis whatsoever. “The world is more dangerous than it has ever been.” (Think about that claim for one minute, and you’ll see how absurd it is.) About ISIS, he said, “They’re going to be gone if I’m elected president, and they’ll be gone very, very quickly.” (What does this mean? Is he going to scowl at them? Nuke them?) “No one knows how to reduce debt, but I do.” (One way he reduced debt in the private sector was to buy debt-ridden companies, then abandon the creditors or offer them dimes on the dollar or nothing. International debt doesn’t work this way.) He also said, as he has before, that he opposed the Iraq war because it would destabilize the Middle East—when, in fact, he supported the invasion not long before it took place.

While conservatives hated the speech, they are themselves to blame for much of it.  Many of these “facts” and bromides rolled out by Trump (the lower military budget, Obama apologizing for America on the world stage) — these are staples in the conservative line of bullshit that just ain’t so.

What conservatives used to say with a wink and a nod, Trump lights it up with neon.  His foreign policy speech — disjointed, full of false patriotism, and simply impossible — was more of that.  No wonder the U.S. allies hated it….. and Russia loved it.

Serious Ratf*cking

Wikipedia:

Ratfucking is an American slang term for political sabotage or dirty tricks. It was first brought to public attention by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their book All the President’s Men.

Here’s what The Hill is reporting:

Multiple Facebook pages supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were abruptly removed from the social media network late last night following an apparent coordinated cyberattack.

The pro-Sanders pages — which include Bernie or Bust, Bernie Believers and Bernie Sanders is my HERO — were collectively followed by over a quarter-million supporters of the Vermont senator, and many had been operating continuously since Sanders launched his campaign last year.

The attack began around 9 p.m. EDT and lasted until just after midnight, when most of the pages recovered their accounts.

According to eyewitness reports, the pages were flooded with pornographic images in coordinated fashion and then flagged for obscene content, prompting Facebook to remove them.

“We had what looked like a kiddie porn posted in one of our groups today,” said Sanders supporter Erica Libenow, according to Heavy.com. “I reported that one. Seriously made me want to vomit.”

At least one Facebook user linked to the pro-Hillary Clinton group Bros 4 Hillary was reported to have participated in the attacks.

The Bros 4 Hillary team disavowed the user in a statement posted Tuesday morning, which condemned any “harmful or offensive rhetoric or harassing behavior targeting supporters of any other candidate in the race.”

Several websites and online forums and website attempted to draw a connection between the attacks and Clinton ally David Brock’s social media initiative, Barrier Breakers 2016, after noting that the former Bros 4 Hillary member had recently “liked” the initiative on Facebook.

According to U.S. Uncut, Brock’s super PAC Correct the Record has “earmarked $1 million for the effort … which aims to ‘correct’ Sanders supporters who criticize Hillary Clinton on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram.”

In a statement to The Hill, Correct the Record denied any involvement in the attacks.

This doesn’t sound like anything Clinton would condone, not does it sound like a pro-Clinton group.  Or a Brock’s group either.

Either this is self-sabotage by a Sanders person, or, more likely, someone on the right trying to draw a wedge between Sanders and Clinton people.  (After all, if Sanders people refuse to vote for Clinton, that offsets all the Republicans who will not vote for Trump).

Five Primaries Today

Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island.

The delegates in each state are distributed proportionately on the Democratic side.  Expect Clinton to widen her lead in each state and overall.

On the Republican side, the states delegate count methods vary, but this will be a good evening for Trump.

The media is breathless about Cruz and Kasich creating an alliance (in reality show parlance) by both agreeing to let Cruz concentrate his resources in Indiana, while Kasich aims his resources at Oregon and New Mexico.  It won’t make any difference.  Trump, I believe, is on his way to 1,237, and tonight will move him much closer.

I guess what I am trying to tell everyone is that it is over.  Get ready for the general election.

God knows I am.

UPDATE:

Tonight’s races—RCP average

PENNSYLVANIA Trump +22  Clinton +16
MARYLAND Trump +21  Clinton +24
CONNECTICUT Trump +27  Clinton +6
RHODE ISLAND Trump +29  Clinton +3
DELAWARE Trump +37  Clinton +7

UPDATE #2:

Kudos to William Saletan at Slate for this article (the headline says it all though):

Bernie polls

Is Trump Being Himself? Or Is It An Act?

As the New York Times reported on Friday:

Donald J. Trump’s newly installed campaign chief sought to assure members of the Republican National Committee on Thursday night that Mr. Trump recognized the need to reshape his persona and that his campaign would begin working with the political establishment that he has scorned to great effect.

Addressing about 100 committee members at the spring meeting here, many of them deeply skeptical about Mr. Trump’s candidacy, the campaign chief, Paul Manafort, bluntly suggested the candidate’s incendiary style amounted to an act.

“That’s what’s important for you to understand: That he gets it, and that the part he’s been playing is evolving,” Mr. Manafort said, suggesting that Mr. Trump was about to begin a more professional phase of his campaign.

I wonder if Trump’s supporters know that they are watching Trump playing a part.  I suspect not.

By the way, I don’t buy into the notion that Trump will ever “pivot” and become presidential.  He’s not disciplined enough to do it anyway, and his success comes from being an asshole.

Also, Trump slowed down 50% sounds like a complete drunk.

Tim Robbins Needs A Time Out

So there’s that.  Tim Robbins thinks there is voter fraud because exit polls don’t match with actual results.

Never mind that historically, exit polls are usually pretty inaccurate.  And never mind how 10% of Democratic votes in almost every states are fraudulent (just how does one organize fraud on that scale involving so many people?)

He’s also promoting the ridiculous idea that the Correct the Record PAC, formed to push back against anti-Hillary smears circulating on social media, is a diabolical conspiracy to harass and attack Bernie’s supporters. And he’s not the only Bernie supporter going ballistic over this

It’s pretty depressing to see so-called liberals and progressives doing the right wing’s job for them, and sounding almost exactly like the much crazier loons at Breitbart “News.” I really don’t like to see people like Robbins, whose work I’ve admired and who seems like a pretty good person normally, be manipulated by deceptive right wing propaganda.

If this is a Trump-Clinton contest, as I expect to be, the only way Clinton could lose is if lunacy like this takes off.

Voter ID Upheld In NC

The New York Times reports:

“North Carolina’s voter identification law requires people to display one of six credentials, such as a driver’s license or passport, before casting a ballot. Those who cannot may complete a “reasonable impediment declaration” and cast a provisional ballot.

“Although critics of the law said that the voter identification standard was a cloaked effort to disenfranchise black and Hispanic voters, Judge Schroeder, who presided over a highly technical trial that began in January, dismissed such arguments.

“‘Plaintiffs’ contention that North Carolina’s requirement is one of the strictest in the country ignores the reasonable impediment exception,’ Judge Schroeder, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote. ‘If North Carolina is an outlier, it is because it is one of only two states in the nation to accommodate voters who wish to vote in person but for whatever reason face an impediment to acquiring qualifying ID.'”

The Raleigh News & Observer reports civil rights organizations condemned the ruling:

“‘The sweeping barriers imposed by this law undermine voter participation and have an overwhelmingly discriminatory impact on African-Americans,’ Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. ‘This ruling does not change that reality. We are already examining an appeal.’

“An appeal is likely and many expect the U.S. Supreme Court to be the final arbiter of the constitutionality of a law that has been monitored by many.

“‘We’re confident that the voters in this state will eventually be vindicated,’ said Allison Riggs, a senior staff attorney at Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which represented challengers to the law.”

In a statement, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the ruling affirms that requiring a photo ID to vote is “not only common-sense, it’s constitutional.”  He added: “Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and thankfully a federal court has ensured our citizens will have the same protection for their basic right to vote.”

McCrory keeps intoning “common sense”, as he did with HB2.  Apparently, to him “common sense” means fixing a problem that doesn’t exist, like voter fraud (the court opinion even acknowledges that there hasn’t ever been any voter fraud in North Carolina), and like men pretending to be transsexuals in public restrooms.

I am not confident this will be overturned on appeal.  However, I think the minority community will mobilize to register and take it out against the Republicans who pass these kind of laws in the first place.

A net plus.

RT @JoshMalina: Each morning I get into the car with my daughter, and she plugs her phone in and says “Which part do you want?” Meaning Bur…

Red Woman just can’t keep her clothes on for some reason #GameofThrones

Sansa forgot her lines. #GameofThrones

I know I’m not the only one who sings along with the theme song. #GameofThrones

RT @danielradosh: “And Peggy” is this generation’s “The Professor and Mary Ann”

RT @Maisie_Williams: ALSO. HOW EXCITED ARE YOU ALL FOR GAME OF THRONES SEASON 6?????? https://t.co/EkOVAZx01p
rt-maisie_williams-also-how-excited-are-you-all-for-game-of-thrones-season-6-httpst-coekovazx01p 

Excited for #GameofThrones

RT @JenAshleyWright: In honor of #Shakespeare400 here are some words invented by Shakespeare: dawn, discontent, bedroom, hob-nob, mapQuest,…

RT @aperturecinema: Tonight’s 10:15pm screening of Purple Rain is sold out. 💜

RT @MrJonCryer: If you love @pattonoswalt , now would be a good time to let him know.

RT @Lin_Manuel: Are we gonna let the elevator break us down?
(Oh no let’s go) https://t.co/8KL5DeW0FB
rt-lin_manuel-are-we-gonna-let-the-elevator-break-us-downoh-no-lets-go-httpst-co8kl5dew0fb 

Breaking: Today’s Mass Murder

Peeples OH:

Several fatalities have been reported in shootings at multiple locations on Union Hill Road in Pike County just northeast of Peebles, according to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Two adults and five children have been shot to death, according to Pastor Phil Fulton of the nearby Union Hill Church.

The number of fatalities is unconfirmed.  Also unconfirmed is whether there is someone in custody.

pikecounty

UPDATE:  Seven confirmed dead.  Apparently all in a family.  Bodies found in multiple locations throughout county.

Not two adults and five children, but five adults and two children.  Found shot “execution-style”.  No news on the suspect, but he must be either caught or dead since there is no news of a manhunt or lockdowns.

UPDATE #2:  Make that right dead.  Another adult found at a fourth location.

RT @chucktodd: Not surprised by this, but the “80s on 8” channel on XM is doing an outstanding job paying tribute to Prince. Mix of stores…

RT @Lin_Manuel: Step away from your computer. Walk around, blast some Prince.
It’s the only thing that has saved my day, it may save yours.

Conservative Christians can’t tell the difference between a sketch which spoofs THEM and one that spoofs God. #SNL https://t.co/jx6NIyF0nJ
conservative-christians-cant-tell-the-difference-between-a-sketch-which-spoofs-them-and-one-that-spoofs-god-snl-httpst-cojx6niyf0nj 

RT @ReuseRecruiting: We weren’t supposed to use phones at Prince in ATL last week, but I couldn’t resist. Last performance of Purple Rain h…
rt-reuserecruiting-we-werent-supposed-to-use-phones-at-prince-in-atl-last-week-but-i-couldnt-resist-last-performance-of-purple-rain-h 

RT @zerobeta: When asked what it feels like to be the best guitarist alive, Eric Clapton said, “I don’t know. Ask Prince.”

Breaking: RIP Prince

Shock.

Prince was 57.  Police are investigating the death at his estate in Carver County, Minnesota.

Earlier this month, he said he wasn’t feeling well, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and canceled at least one concert in the city. Some days later, he took the stage in Atlanta to perform. After that concert, the singer’s plane made an emergency landing, the singer’s spokesperson Yvette Noel-Schure told CNN. At the time she said, “He is fine and at home.”

Prince Rogers Nelson owned the year 1984 — in fact most of the mid-80s — in many ways more so than Michael Jackson.  During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince’s film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film’s soundtrack was the best-selling album and “When Doves Cry” was holding the top spot for singles.

He also wrote songs for other people: “Manic Monday” for the Bangles, “I Feel For You” for Chaka Khan, and “Nothing Compares 2 U” for Sinéad O’Connor.

Here are Prince’s 40 biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits:

Rank, Title, Hot 100 Peak Year, Position (Weeks Spent at No. 1)
1, “When Doves Cry,” 1984, No. 1 (5)*
2, “Kiss,” 1986, No. 1 (2)*
3, “Let’s Go Crazy,” 1984, No. 1 (2)
4, “Cream,” 1991, No. 1 (2)**
5, “Batdance,” 1989, No. 1 (1)
6, “Raspberry Beret,” 1985, No. 2*
7, “U Got the Look,” 1987, No. 2
8, “Purple Rain,” 1984, No. 2*
9, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” 1994, No. 3
10, “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” 1987, No. 3
11, “Little Red Corvette,” 1983, No. 6
12, “Diamonds and Pearls,” 1992, No. 3**
13, “Thieves in the Temple,” 1990, No. 6
14, “Pop Life,” 1985, No. 7*
15, “Delirious,” 1983, No. 8
16, “I Would Die 4 U,” 1985, No. 8*
17, “7,” 1993, No. 7**
18, “Alphabet St.,” 1988, No. 8
19, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” 1988, No. 10
20, “1999,” 1983, No. 12
21, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” 1980, No. 11
22, “Partyman,” 1989, No. 18
23, “Gett Off,” 1991, No. 21**
24, “Mountains,” 1986, No. 23*
25, “Take Me With You,” 1985, No. 25***
26, “The Arms of Orion,” 1989, No. 36****
27, “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night,” 1992, No. 23**
28, “I Hate U,” 1995, No. 12
29, “LetItGo,” 1994, No. 31
30, “America,” 1985, No. 46*
31. “The Morning Papers,” 1993, No. 44
32. “Anotherloverholenyohead,” 1986, No. 63*
33. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married/Irresistible Bitch,” 1984, No. 52*
34. “My Name Is Prince,” 1992, No. 36**
35. “Hot Thing,” 1988, No. 63
36. “Pink Cashmere,” 1993, No. 50
37. “Controversy,” 1981, No. 70
38. “Call My Name,” 2004, No. 75
39. “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold,” 2000, No. 63
40. “New Power Generation,” 1990, No. 64

Forget the eccentricity and vanity. Fantastic guitarist and writer and showman.  Like the late David Bowie, he was another gender-bender and barrier breaker.

Prince sold 100+ million records, won 7 Grammys and destroyed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 2004 at a tribute to George Harrison.  Some call this the greatest live guitar solo performance of all time (it starts around 3:25)

For my money, his best song was Raspberry Beret, and the video was awesome.  The long version.  Which hard to find.  But here is the link.  The part where he coughs up a furrball within this shiny production number gives me pure joy.

Prince’s unreleased catalog is nearly as expansive as his official discography.  Because of his protectiveness, plus ongoing copyright and distributor disputes, there’s not a lot of Prince stuff out there.  But here’s a rarity — a Prince cover of Honky Tonk Woman:

UPDATE:  Poor Wolf Blitzer on CNN.  I guess he’s thinking Hendrix died (again).  Keeps referring to “Purple Haze” instead of “Purple Rain”.

NEXT DAY UPDATE:  All the tributes…

Why I Am An Elitist

I’ve been called an “elitist”, which is a nice way of saying “snob”.

And I totally fess up to being an elitist.  I do.  I think the masses are dolts.  Look at the Republican Party.  The candidates being thrown up as the leaders did not come from a bunch of party regulars smoking cigars in the back room.  They were elected by the people.  And what did the masses give to America?

Donald Trump.

And Ted Cruz.

For president.  President.

So no, I don’t have much faith in the people.  And if that makes me an elitist, then yup.  I am one.

Titanic Sinks In Real Time

It’s hard to imagine what it felt like to be on the RMS Titanic after the ship struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean more than a century ago. But a new game aims to put you as close as possible. The game, called “Titanic: Honor and Glory,” follows a fictional character named Owen Robert Morgan,…

Pity Ted

Ted Cruz sent out the fundraising letter a couple of days ago:

cruzletter

Poor poor man  He wants to be the most powerful man in the world, and it’s HARD!

Elizabeth Warren laid into him:

Honestly, Cruz could not have teed it up better if he tried.

The Tubman Freakout

Seriously?

That’s Fox’s Greta Van Susteren saying that Obama is needlessly “dividing the country” by replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20, with Harriet Tubman.

Has this woman lost her mind?  Dividing the country between who and who?

Or is it personal (she does resemble Jackson)?

e6b26c78e3194337bbc5f12c2f060419

Then, Van Susteren had a suggestion as to how the Obama administration could have avoided “dividing the country”:

Give Tubman her own bill. Like a $25 bill. We could use a $25 bill. Put her picture on that and we could all celebrate. That’s the smart and easy thing to do. But no, some people don’t think and would gratuitously stir up conflict in the nation. That is so awful, and yes, dumb.

Right.  Because that worked so well the Susan B Anthony coin.  It flopped, the US Treasury ended up with 520 million surplus coins after halting production. A $25 bill would be even more contrived, and it would end up creating more work in retail stores, banks, and so on in separate handling of the currency from $20s and $50s.  There’s simply no NEED for it.

Van Susteren isn’t alone in this.  Trump has called it political correctness.  Ben Carson thinks Tubman should go on a $2.

But here’s the thing: the all LOVE that she is on our money.  It’s the OTHER people who are offended by Treasury Secretary Lew and Obama.

Anyway, time to learn about Tubman:

Trump Shouldn’t Talk About Things

He took questions on the Today show today:

Q: Tell us your views of LGBT and how you plan to be inclusive. Please speak about the North Carolina bathroom law.

A: ”North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” said Trump, who would have left things as they were. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble.” He said that instead, the new law has brought tremendous economic “strife” for the state, including various boycotts by entertainers and major businesses. “Leave it the way it is.”

Okay, kudos.  It was the right answer, and in stark contrast to Ted Cruz, who actually defended HB2 last week. During an MSNBC town hall, Cruz said, “As the father of daughters, I’m not terribly excited about men being able to go alone into a bathroom with my daughters, and I think that’s a perfectly reasonable determination for the people to make.”

I am not confident that Trump supporters will agree with him on this.

But then this….

Q: Regarding news that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill: Was the move an act of political correctness or a long-overdue gesture?

A: Trump hailed Jackson as a president with a “great history of tremendous success” and said he would rather leave Jackson on the bill. “I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill for many, many years and really represented somebody that was very important to this country,” he said. He suggested putting Tubman on the $2 bill or creating a new one altogether. “I would love to see another denomination, and that could take place, I think it would be more appropriate.”

Jackson had a “great history of tremendous success” if that means successfully relocating the Native Americans and laying the groundwork for the Civil War.  Seriously, Trump has no clue what Jackson did.  And if you ask around (or Google), the truth is that nobody has the slightest idea how Jackson got on the $20 bill in the first place.

No really, we checked. The Treasury Department, which has the authority to determine who appears on what bills (so long as that individual is already dead), says on its Web site that its own historical records “do not suggest” why certain presidents ended up on certain bills during a blitz of portrait selections in 1928.

In fact, Jackson was opposed to the creation of paper money.

But I digress.

Let me return to Trump.  The slam on “political correctness”?  Listen, even I believe we can go too far sometimes in pointing out and correcting perceived social slights.  But political correctness means nothing more than showing respect for, and occasionally honoring, minority viewpoints.  And when rich white men like Donald Trump take a slam at political correctness, you know what they are talking about.  It’s the death cry of the white American male, seeing his power and influence diminished by the rise of (oh, the horror!) women and minorities.  For some, slamming political correctness offers an excuse for blatant bigotry.

Consider the contrast between the two questions put to Trump above,  He is clearly capable of seeing discrimination — he has no problem letting Kaitlen Jenner use whatever bathroom she wants in Trump Tower.  And yet, put a black woman on the $20?  Why, that’s political correctness gone awry.

What’s the difference?

Speaking of Trump, I came across this, which I clip from the Baltimore Sun:

trumpsupporter

Hey nineteen.  STFU.

RT @JenAshleyWright: Sanders courting super-delegates as only path to victory. It’s almost as if you need to work within the system to make…

RT @Johngcole: Why do we have to explain the first amendment every fucking time some right wing jackass gets fired for being an asshole?

New York Primary

It went as I said. Clinton and Trump victories.

The average poll had Clinton winning by 12 points. She won by 16 points.

The Bernie upset never materialized. It never had a chance.  Let’s hope Bernie doesn’t burn the house in the next few weeks.

The average poll had Trump by 32. He won by 35.  Kasich, not Cruz, came in second.

Trump won every New York county — except Manhattan, where he lives and works and where he is best known.

This seems unnecessary.

In 1970, Sanders was asked to leave a hippie commune because he was “sitting around talking politics” instead of working. #FeelTheBum

Court Opinion: 4th Circuit Sides with Transgender High School Student Suing School Board for Access to Boy’s Bathroom

The Fourth Circuit just reversed a lower Virginia court, which had tossed a lawsuit by a transgender boy against the school district which barred his access to the boy’s room.

Not a final decision on the merits — the case was handed back down to the Virginia federal court.  But a good harbinger, since on other federal appeals court has weighed in on the issue.

I should also mention that my city did a good thing last night, if only symbolic:

The Winston-Salem City Council approved Monday night a resolution highly critical of much of the new House Bill 2 legislation that has set off controversy in the state and beyond over transgender restroom use and LGBT rights.

On a 6-1 vote, the council approved a resolution drawn up by Council Member Dan Besse calling on the city’s representatives in Raleigh to work toward undoing “inadequately considered and damaging legislative changes” that opponents see in the law.

The Besse resolution doesn’t mention the Charlotte restroom ordinance that provoked the General Assembly into action, one that would have given transgender people the right to use the restroom corresponding to their chosen gender identification. In fact, Besse said all along he wouldn’t ask council members to take a stand on that issue.

But Besse’s resolution does fault HB2 for taking away the ability of local governments to enact local ordinances concerning discrimination. As well, the resolution criticizes the law for preventing local governments from influencing private employer worker benefits by making the benefits a condition for getting a city contract.

The resolution carries no legal weight, but adds Winston-Salem to the growing list of N.C. cities voicing opposition to the new law.

The one Republican who voted against even has some problems with HB2:

Council Member Robert Clark, the board’s only Republican, was also the sole member to vote against the resolution. But Clark voiced concerns about some aspects of HB2 that he believes should be reconsidered, although he said he shares the concerns voiced by lawmakers about “male genitalia in female locker rooms” that were voiced when the bill was passed.

“At the same time, I recognize the difficulty a transgender person would have navigating a very private dilemma,” Clark said, adding that a third restroom might be a solution but isn’t one that has been proposed.

“We must, as a state, develop policies that protect civil rights of all persons while equally protecting the privacy rights of all as well,” Clark said.

And our AG made this point:

Besse’s resolution and Clark both took issue with the provision of HB2 that prevents someone from suing in state court for any kind of discrimination.

And one of Clark’s objections isn’t mentioned in Besse’s resolution but was pointed out as a problem with the legislation by Angela Carmon, the city attorney.

Carmon recently said the state law’s anti-discrimination measures — which do not mention sexual orientation or gender identity — could, if applied to the city’s own employment practices, put the city at odds with federal civil rights regulations that are increasingly being interpreted as covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

So. Yeah.  Good thing.

Start Spreading The Non-News

It’s the day of the New York primary, y’all!!

And while the media has been trying its darnedest to make this an interesting primary day, the results are obvious to anyone paying attention:  Trump wins, Clinton wins.

Twas ever thus.  Seriously.  They were ahead when all eyes turned to NY, and they’re still ahead now.

NYPrimary

But now you can enjoy a post-New York spate of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump comeback stories.

I’ll save you the trouble.  Here are the headlines of these stories?

“Does Bernie Have A Realistic Path To Victory?”  [Answer: No]

“Should Bernie Drop Out?”  [Answer: No]

“Does Trump’s NY Victory Stave Off A Contested GOP Convention?”  [Answer: Not completely, but it helps]

As to this last point, Sam Wang at Princeton University thinks a Trump win in New York of 54% gives him 86 out of the 95 NY delegates.  And so the probability of getting to 1237 or more delegates is at 64 percent.  Here’s his work, and here’s the key chart with assumptions:

GOP update  pre New York

But then Wang adds this caveat:

Alternate scenarios: Trump’s Meta-Margin is +1.5%; if he falls by that much, then the probability of clearing 1237 pledged delegates falls to 50%. This calculation excludes uncommitted delegates and assumes all assigned delegates remain faithful to their voters. Under uncertain conditions (I regard 20-80% probability as uncertain territory, and 64% is right in there), within a limited range, each additional (or removed) delegate alters the probability by approximately 0.5%.

For example, this survey of Pennsylvania delegates suggests that 20% of district-level delegates would be likely to defect – usually because they are Cruz supporters. That would cost Trump an average of 11 delegates (assuming he sweeps all districts). If 11 Pennsylvania delegates are faithless, then the probability of getting to 1237 or greater drops from 64% to 59%. At this rate of defection, the calculation gives a median of 1255 delegates, interquartile range 1199-1294. However, I note that we do not know if Trump voters will willingly vote for Cruz-committed delegates.

Conversely, if 20 uncommitted delegates are recruited, then the probability goes up to 74%. I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide how much to add or subtract.

Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.

BUT, the point of this post is to say that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will win their home state of New York.  Clinton supporters will breathe (another) sigh of relief as Sanders’ ultimate doom looms closer.  And the Sanders campaign, and his supporters, will get more petulant and desperate, adding to the unnecessary tribalism that will hurt Democrats in the general.

Concept Creep And Why We Suddenly Are All Made Of Candy Glass

When I grew up, third graders could walk to school, play alone at the park, or bike 10 minutes to a friend’s house without anyone worrying or objecting, so long as they came home for supper or before the street lights came on.

Today, though kidnapping is just as rare, a parent who allows that same behavior is at risk of arrest or even losing custody of their children to their state’s child protective services bureaucracy.

Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s…

For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.

Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied. The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl “abandoned” and proceeded to arrest the mother.

Then there’s the high school senior complains to her Facebook friends about a teacher and is suspended for “cyberbullying.”

Or students at Wellesley who start a petition calling for the removal of a statue of a man in his underwear, claiming that the art piece caused them emotional trauma.

Or the residents of Santa Monica, California, claim to need emotional support animals that the local farmer’s market warns against service dog fraud.

What the hell is this?

I think a psychologist named Nick Haslam may have nailed it.  He calls it “concept creep”.  Basically, he argues, concepts that refer to the negative aspects of human experience and behavior have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before. This expansion takes “horizontal” and “vertical” forms: concepts extend outward to capture qualitatively new phenomena and downward to capture quantitatively less extreme phenomena.

So, as we become educate (and educate others) to the concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, sexual harassment, prejudice, etc., the behaviors that constitute abuse, bullying, etc. become watered down.

Haslam suggests this happens as a result of a liberal moral agenda.  I don’t know if agree, but I certainly don’t want to suggest that we shouldn’t address — in a progressive way — certain societal problems.  I just think that when we talk about, say, parental abuse — a serious problem — we should not define it so broadly so as to include what happened to Debra Harrell who let her kid play in a park.

It’s like when Ainsley Hayes on The West Wing explains about feminism, and how there are “honest-to-God” problems facing women and calling out the petty stuff gets in the way of addressing the real problems.

So to the extent that concept creep has society tied up in knots, making everyone a whiny victim of [name your poison] , maybe we need to buck up and address REAL bullying, REAL abuse, REAL prejudice, etc.

Here’s the Haslam monograph:

MAB 370 Update

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board when it disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff on March 8, 2014. Radar tracking showed the plane made at least three unexpected turns without the pilots signaling an emergency, and hourly satellite signals suggested the plane headed to the remote Indian Ocean before running out of fuel.

An international search effort to find the aircraft turned up nothing — no debris, no bodies, no oil slick.

However, on December 27, 2015 and February 27 2016, two items of debris were independently found, approximately 220km apart, on the Mozambique coast.  Assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) was requested by the Malaysian Government in the formal identification of the items to determine if they came from the Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB) Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO, operating as MH370.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is investigating the disappearance of flight MH370, concluded in its report today the following:

Part No. 1 was a flap track fairing segment, almost certainly from the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO.

Part No. 2 was a horizontal stabiliser panel segment, almost certainly from the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO.

The key to the findings surround some stenciled code on the parts — the stencils make it clear that these are like;y parts associated with a Malaysian Arilines Boeing 777 craft.  Some details (click to embiggen):

mabparts

At the time of writing, ongoing work was being conducted with respect to the marine ecology identification as well as testing of material samples. The results from these tests will be provided to the Malaysian investigation team once complete.

Until now, the only other confirmed piece of debris from the Boeing 777 was a wing part that washed ashore on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion last year.  Authorities could not confirm the Reunion debris was from Malaysian Air (but it was pretty likely).

Taken together, the debris findings are consistent with the belief that MAB 370 crashed somewhere in a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean about 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) east of Mozambique. Authorities had predicted that any debris from the plane that isn’t on the ocean floor would eventually be carried by currents to the east coast of Africa. However, given the vast distances involved, the variability of winds and the time that has elapsed, it is impossible for experts to retrace the parts’ path back to where they first entered the water.

Love me some airplane forensics.

RT @Atrios: when does the pulitzer for sucky blogging get announced

RT @PulitzerPrize: The 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama goes to… @Lin_Manuel #Pulitzer100 https://t.co/78ORIi2aOa
rt-pulitzerprize-the-2016-pulitzer-prize-for-drama-goes-to-lin_manuel-pulitzer100-httpst-co78orii2aoa 

Anyone Can Whistle

And it’s not hard to hear the dog whistle Trump is sending to his supporters:

“I hope it doesn’t involve violence. I hope it doesn’t. I’m not suggesting that,” Trump told reporters on Sunday here in Staten Island. “I hope it doesn’t involve violence, and I don’t think it will. But I will say this, it’s a rigged system, it’s a crooked system. It’s 100 percent corrupt.”

One could argue that he’s just, you know, blabbing, but honestly, I do think that Trump knows exactly what he is saying.  He is sending a tacit message, maybe in the form of wishful thinking aloud, and knows that some of his supporters will actually make good and bring about violence.  Trump wants that.

Or at least the threat of it.  It’s kind of shot across the bow to the RNC as well as Republicans: support me at the convention… or else!

This is starting to get real.

Palin Broaches The Subject Of Science And Fails

Oh, honey.  Don’t go there:

“Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am,” Palin said at a Capitol Hill event held to roll out a film that aims to discredit climate scientists. “He’s a kids’ show actor; he’s not a scientist.

Bill Nye is a kids’ show host AND a scientist.  I mean,he’s not a PhD, but he has a BA in mechanical engineering and he teaches astronomy and ecology at Cornell.

And as for Palin’s scientific creds? Umm….

After graduating from high school in 1982, Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982 and then to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d’Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983 She enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for an academic year starting in August 1984 and then attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in January 1986 and received her bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in May 1987

So, like five colleges in five years for a B.A. in communications (with an emphasis in journalism — odd for a woman who couldn’t name a newspaper in front of Katie Couric).

Pretty sure Bill Nye is the go-to guy on science.

The Yahoos Get Their Day In Court

Remember that 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that finally ended with one dude getting killed?

Yeah, it’s still a rallying cry for the lunatic right, who love to carry around the Constitution but haven’t bothered to have it read and explained to them (except by other lunatics).

Seven men are facing federal charges of conspiracy, weapon, theft and damaging government property charges in Portland, Oregon.  Five of them appeared in court Friday and not surprisingly, it was a circus.  I guess they don’t recognize the authority of the court over them.

Two sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and three other men refused to enter pleas in federal court in Las Vegas to charges in an armed confrontation with government agents two years ago.

Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. entered not guilty pleas on behalf of each man during a sometimes contentious arraignment that featured cat-calls and cheers from about 30 Bundy backers and defendants’ family members, under watchful eyes of about a dozen U.S. marshals.

“We don’t need any outbursts,” Foley warned from the U.S. District Court bench Friday. Twice he told the restive audience, “This is not a show.”

Oh, it will be.  Here’s how I know (emphasis mine)

His brother and co-defendant, Ryan Bundy, professed to understand his rights but not the charges against him. He also said he wants to serve as his own lawyer.

Yup.  Bundy is going to put The United States Government (a federal corporation) on trial!!

“You’re out of order!  You’re out of order!  This whole country’s out of order!”

Payne told the judge it was “preposterous, sir,” to have to defend himself against federal charges in two jurisdictions at the same time.

“I don’t understand the pretense of this level of government to bring forth such charges,” he added.

Brian Cavalier finished his arraignment — “I will not be entering a plea today,” he said — by offering federal prosecutors a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Jesus wept.  Madison too.

 

The Science Behind HB2

Well, what do you know.

It turns out that there are people who actually know a thing or two about gender determination from a scientific and factual point of view.  They’re called “scientists”.  And they have to educate the Governor and the North Carolina General Assembly, who don’t bother to educate themselves before passing laws.

Here’s a letter from twenty pediatric endocrinologists explaining that gender is not binary.

April 17, 2016

Dear Governor McCrory:

As North Carolinians and Pediatricians with specialty training in Endocrinology, we respectfully request that you reconsider Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2).

A law that defines biological sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate” is inherently flawed and potentially harmful to a group of children that we care for in our pediatric practices. As professional experts in the field of chromosomes and genital anatomy, we provide professional consultation to our colleagues on babies in whom assigning sex may not be possible at the time of birth. For example, there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia. This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time- sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.  Severe hormonal imbalances at birth may also result in gender assignments at the time of the birth that may require reassignment later in life.

Our patients already face major medical and social challenges and HB2 creates unnecessary hardship for these vulnerable youth. We respectfully ask you to repeal this hurtful bill.

Respectfully,

Deanna W.Adkins, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Evelyn Artz, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital
Robert Benjamin, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Ali S. Calikoglu, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cathrine Constantacos, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
A. Joseph D’Ercole, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Estrada, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Michael Freemark, MD
Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Professor of Pediatrics
Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
 Nancy E. Friedman MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Pinar Gumus Balikcioglu, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Nina Jain, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kateryna Kotlyarevska, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Jennifer Law, MD, MSCR
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nancie MacIver, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes
Duke University Medical Center
Shipra Patel, MD
Adjunct Faculty of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Sandberg, MD
Incoming Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Robert Schwartz,MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
Section of Pediatric Endocrinology
Wake Forest Baptist Health
Brenner Children’s Hospital
Maureen A. Su, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Bradly Thrasher, DO
Fellow
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lory Wagner, MD
Pediatric Endocrinology
Mission Children’s Specialties
Mission Children’s Hospital

Yup.  Let’s set aside transgender people and consider this, from Slate story from 2004 which highlights another issue — the intersex birth. Step too far outside established lines and you’ve become a “disorder” (emphasis mine):

Approximately 10 times a year in Houston, at the birth of a certain type of baby, a special crisis team at Texas Children’s Hospital springs into action. Assembled in 2001, the unusual team includes a psychologist, urologist, geneticist, endocrinologist, and ethicist. Its mission: to counsel parents of infants sometimes referred to as “intersex” babies—that is, babies of indeterminate physical gender.

That such a team exists—and that it often counsels deferring surgery for infants who are otherwise healthy—reflects a radical new thinking among doctors about gender identity and outside efforts to shape it. Instead of surgically “fixing” such children to make them (visually, at least) either male or female, a handful of U.S. specialists now argue that such infants should be left alone and eventually be allowed to choose their gender identity. The approach challenges decades of conventional wisdom about what to do with infants whose genitalia don’t conform to the “norm.” Until very recently, such children were automatically altered with surgery, often with tragic consequences.

RT @MikeMasco: Seismographs in PA pinging from the 7.8 #Earthquake in #Ecuador via @millersvilleu https://t.co/89cgVFD1bD
rt-mikemasco-seismographs-in-pa-pinging-from-the-7-8-earthquake-in-ecuador-via-millersvilleu-httpst-co89cgvfd1bd 

Oh, The Tone!! It Burns!

I haven’t bought into the media narrative about the alleged acrimony between Clinton and Sanders.  I thought it was media hype — sort of wishful thinking to boost ratings by making the Dems seems as “entertaining” as the Republicans.

I know it exists among the supporters of Clinton and Sanders.  I know many of the Sanders supporters are just plain belligerent, and naive.  I guess because Hillary came on the scene before they were born, some of the millennials — who know shit about politics (yeah, I went there) — think she is like Trump and the rest of them.

But listening to most of last night’s debate, I admit there is animosity, and it goes right to the top. A very different tone than most of the other debates. Last night’s debate was nasty, sarcastic and personal.  Others noticed:

Okay, mercy! Make it stop already.

For months I remained relentlessly cheerful about the overall quality of the Democratic primary competition. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders offered such a bright and bracing contrast to all those professional wrestlers emerging from the RNC’s clown car. Hillary and Bernie spoke so nimbly of policy and differing approaches to implementing change. They both evinced competence, intelligence, respect, and even affection for one another. (I’m sick and tired of hearing about your emails, Hillary! Let’s move on from that time your campaign stole my data, Bernie!)

In fact, my biggest complaint, for lo those many months, was: not enough debating.

***

Thursday brought Democrats, including me, our fondest wish and dream: another debate!

And from the start it was clear that this whole civil, respectful race had just deteriorated into some kind of nerdy Punch & Judy show, in which everyone screamed at each other, and over each other (and over the moderators) about 501c4s and Dodd Frank.

I think Sanders realizes New York is his last stand, and I don’t blame him for trying to win.

And every time Sanders came after Clinton, she reflexively fought back, instead of neutralizing him by agreeing with him.  Why, for example, couldn’t she simply agree that our friend Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has been, at times, disproportionately brutal?  Does she really lose votes by saying that?

But generally, the debate left me a little concerned that we might be rending the party in a way that will hurt us in the general.  I’m not suggesting that Bernie Sanders needs to drop out — even if his shot is a long shot, he is still entitled to run.   But as far as debates go, we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns and are running the risk of damaging the eventual nominee in the upcoming general election.

Bernie needs to die with a whimper and not a bang.  This last ditch acrimony (and Clinton playing into it) is a very bad development.

Um, if party pols were that prescient, why just change Colorado rules? Why not block you everywhere….and earlier?

When the quiz title says “Which Monopoly Token Are You?”, you know the days of easy clickbait are numbered.

Bernie sez Hillary won Southern states cuz they’re conservative. I’m not, and neither are the millions of pro-Clinton blacks. #FeeltheBull

RT @lizzwinstead: It’s waay better to hear politicians yell at each about policies, rather than about who started the insults about their s…

RT @pattonoswalt: Hillary speaks from experience, mistakes & humility on foreign policy. Bernie speaks hope. I like ’em both, but Hillary m…