Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Roy Moore saga

I'm late writing about this story, but that's OK because the themes of the story are timeless. (I'm also going to be more free-form in writing.)

Roy Moore is a former judge in Alabama who displays a lot of the worst characteristics of evangelicals. He thinks God is on his side. He thinks he's right and anyone who agrees with him is wrong. His beliefs are more important than American law. He thinks he's right when he defies court rulings, laws, whatever. He's been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court twice (TWICE!) for this kind of behavior. The first was for refusing to remove a stone statue depicting the Ten Commandments. (The order was due to that whole 'separation of church and state' nonsense.) The second time was for lying about his directions on how to handle (errr, avoid) marriage for same sex couples, which the US Supreme Court approved a few years ago.

So, although he was controversial, he ended up as the GOP nominee for Senate for a special election in Alabama to replace Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to become Attorney General. This shows yet again that too few regular people vote in primaries. People shouldn't be so lazy because primaries are important for getting the best possible person in the office.

The GOP had the main primary and then a run-off between the top two. Only after this process were there national reports alleging that Roy Moore had chased, bothered, and even molested at least one 14-year-old girl when he was single, a prosecutor, and in his 30's.

This isn't news to me. I hadn't heard it about Roy Moore, but I've heard it before and even witnessed it with my own eyes. There are too many men who take liberties with women as though men have prerogatives and women must simply comply and supply. So I'm not disposed to believe a man's denials. But beyond my own bias, the preponderance of the evidence is against Roy Moore and with his accusers. There is a pattern, plus there are plenty of people confirming that he gave unwanted attention to teenage girls. There's even a video of a male worker at a store in the mall talking about Moore being banned from the mall, including the name of the police officer to contact if Moore came around. This isn't a guy with an ax to grind, so his story is very credible and very damaging to Moore. The denials are Moore and his friends circling the wagons. Again, this is typical entitled male response (actually, circling the wagons is typical of many groups).

Moore, just as one might expect from a self-righteous person, denies the reports and calls his accusers liars. What is much more likely is that Moore is an abject liar himself.

Only one Republican that I can point to has acted honorably, and that's Senator Richard Shelby. He clearly said that Roy Moore isn't a good candidate, that he wasn't going to vote for him, and that Alabamians shouldn't vote for him. Most other GOPers were weasels about Roy Moore.

The good news is that Roy Moore lost. That's a good reflection on the majority in Alabama, and what a pleasant surprise to give the rest of the country. The Dems were very happy because there hasn't been a Dem senator from Alabama in 20 years. The Republicans aren't completely upset because Roy Moore is a loose cannon that they won't have to worry about, so a bit of relief for them.

Image: al.com

Extras. Lots. Breitbart lies about the inscription in a yearbook. It was clearly a combination of different writers, so this isn't a revelation... to anyone with a working brain. Breitbart then whines about being labeled liars. Another woman shows a greeting card from Roy Moore, who dated her when she was 17. Check out the handwriting.

Fox News interview with a pretty fair analyst. The anchor is trying to skew things, and it's interesting how the info about Sen. Shelby is buried at the end. Probably no accident. Roy Moore never conceded the election (because he's God's choice, you know) and even tried to prevent the certification of the election. He wasn't successful because there is a reality beyond Moore's belief systems. Thank God for that.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mueller: Good guy or bad guy?

The background: In a fit of pique (and a bit a planning), Trump fired the director of the FBI, who also happened to be directing the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether Trump officials had any connections to that. And, of course, investigations into lies, cover-ups etc.

The dismissal didn't turn out to be a good move because it spawned even more calls for a special counsel to handle the investigation. And we got a special counsel.

There was a general sense of relief (I thought) at the naming of a special counsel, especially because he had such a good reputation. Robert Mueller had been director of the FBI, and was very respected on a bipartisan basis. He had been appointed by BushII, and his term was extended by Obama because it was so hard to find a good replacement.

So he was lauded when appointed. But that couldn't last because in Washington everyone is a target. Even Jesus Christ would be pilloried if his job was to investigate Trump. So the game was soon on to bash Mueller. They really don't have much. He's a good friend of Comey, the fired FBI director. That's a problem, but maybe a smaller problem than finding a better person to lead this investigation. Then there were charges that he's hired too many Dems, and they've given too much money to Democratic candidates.

It's interesting to note that critics have very little to complain about, so they complain about the scraps they have. There doesn't seem to be a lot of leaking, no malfeasance on the part of investigators, no one in the investigation shooting their mouths off or firing off inadvisable tweets. I'm no expert on investigations, so I can't say this one is solid. However, it's clearly disciplined.

It was instructive to me to go back and review what was said about Mueller when he was first appointed:
Mueller has a strong reputation for independence, and comes with the right credentials for this job. - Senator Grassley 
[T]he media can sniff, but Mueller is a consummate professional, which is why two presidents appointed him FBI Director. - Former official from Reagan, BushI and BushII administrations. 
If Trump is clean, this could be good For him... Mueller is reportedly an expert at keeping his mouth shut, so that means lots of radio silence here. - Ben Shapiro, conservative columnist 
Bob will be known as the most transformative director in the history of the FBI since Hoover. And I mean that in a good way. - Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security
I don't particularly remember Mueller's tenure at the FBI. I suppose it was solid and without a huge scandal. I do recall the commendations heaped on him for taking on the investigation. No one said he was a terrible choice. Complaints started as it became useful for Trump partisans to cast doubt, butI have no reason to buy into that narrative. Instead, I'm very much looking forward to the report on his findings. I hope it will be detailed, comprehensive, accurate, and fair. I hadn't seen anyone else that I would trust more with the task.

Mueller (l) with John Ashcroft in 2011
Image: cbsnews.com

Update 12/28/17. In an interview with the New York Times (and re-reported elsewhere), Trump said Mueller is 'going to be fair." Trump must be listening to some sources other than the 'Mueller is biased' crowd. Folks like Trump's lawyers probably know that he shouldn't be lathered up against Mueller, but calmed down instead. Trump's base, however, is ministered to by people who care about ratings and clicks, so their incentives are different.

Monday, December 18, 2017

December links 2

Sexual harassment in foreign policy circles. Dan Drezner, a smart, wonkish political writer, asks women in foreign policy circles what hurdles they face. Very readable in two parts.

Read between the lines in the Flynn indictment. Better yet, let law experts do it and read what they write. They think Flynn is giving very important information and cooperation to the Russia investigation. 

Tax cut dogma. Just when I needed to refute some jerk who thought the Laffer Curve was scientifically proven, I found this article about tax cuts and their effect on growth. Pretty concise.

Ramifications of US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. It's been a fact on the ground, but a diplomatic minefield. Candidates for president have made and then broken promises. Trump finally seems to plan to pull that trigger, but how bad will it be? As this article notes, it won't derail talks because there are no talks. Background on the role of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who seems to have an ego as big as Trump's. Of course there were riots in the short term. The long term will have to be seen.

A day as President Trump. A close look at what it's like to be President Trump. Kelly has brought in more discipline and focus, and Trump appears to have learned a few productive coping mechanisms.

A Trump fallacy and its effect. Trump isn't able to hear and accept the truth about Russia, its intentions and its interference. His own ego and insecurity don't allow him. However, he also doesn't seem to be in charge of policy with regard to Russia. It's a bad situation and could get worse.

A lesson in post-Soviet history. I hadn't known this important bit of history, where the NATO countries broke an unwritten promise on expansion. One lesson--it's not any kind of promise if you can't write it down and publicize it. Secret agreements--they're probably broken again and again.

Big ideas: Clash of world powers. This column starts as a book recommendation, but the issue is huge: the future of the world. Is our future more relative peace or a big conflict? Mostly pessimistic, but not entirely.

Image: future.wikia.com

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December links

I collected a bunch of links in November but didn't get to write about them. Here they are. As usual, an interesting bunch.

White nationalist bad behavior. I'm not sure why this struck me as important, but it did. It turns out that a white nationalist who was caught on video repeatedly shoving a woman at a Trump rally has also been involved in organizing white rallies. This includes Charlottesville. Maybe this detail will be important sometime, but I hope not. On a related note, extreme violence at neo-Nazi rallies didn't start at Charlottesville. This report from 6/26/16 shows that it started over a year earlier. Seven were stabbed at a rally in Sacramento.

Roy Moore bad behavior. Roy Moore is the notorious judge in Alabama who has twice substituted his superior knowledge of God's will over the judgments of higher courts. Now he's running for Senate, and has been accused by several women of chasing them when they were teenage girls and he was in this 30s. He's called them liars, which is the traditional patriarchal response. This video shows an interview of a worker who knew of Roy Moore being banned from a mall in the 1980s for that behavior. Doesn't look like this guy is lying. Updating--another woman who dated Moore when she was 17 is sharing her story, and a card that looks very much like Roy Moore's writing.

Senator gets fed up. Humorous story about Sen. Orrin Hatch getting tired of being accused of wanting to cut taxes for the rich. Well, if he doesn't like the accusation, maybe he should stop repeatedly performing the action of which he is accused. If you don't want to be called a wife-beater, stop beating your wife. Ever.

Was Trump's election racist? This is a long article, but I liked the last third. That part starts with "History has a way of altering villians..." It argues that perhaps whites in the US can't see their own racism even as it worsens in a very scary way. I don't know if I agree, but it's definitely worth keeping in mind.

Why care about a crime 25 years ago? I started reading this article about the conviction in a genocide trial, and my initial reaction was that European justice is too slow and too weak. Then my focus changed, and I was surprisingly happy that this murderer was forced to face justice. He didn't get to escape justice as so many others have.

Immigrant gangs. No, this isn't just a conservative talking point. This is real. Maybe the MSM is mostly burying this information because it's not a story that fits their political bias.

Congressmen have sex. Joe Barton was getting divorced, but he was still interested in having sex with women. Sounds normal to me. He actually sent some nude selfies to some women (not out of the blue). Sounds like the 21st century, right? However, it's trouble for a congressman. Unfortunately, TMZ scrubbed their copies of the pic. It's what you'd expect for a guy his age. This ought to be a non-story, shouldn't it be?

Conservative sting bad behavior. Project Veritas, an organization that exposes liberal causes in not so honest ways, tried a sting on the Washington Post, but was caught instead. Their operative concocted a lie about Roy Moore, was discovered, videotaped, and written about at length. James O'Keefe, the swarmy head of Project Veritas, of course isn't going to be honest about this.

Deregulation improves economy. According to The Economist, the major decrease in new regulations during the beginning of the Trump administration has been helping the US economy. No shit, Sherlock.

Interesting factoid about Israel. The Greek Orthodox church is one of the major landowners in Israel. I never thought about it, but it makes sense. What if it has owned land there for nearly 18 centuries? What are the implications when the church sells some of its holdings?

Media bias in one picture and two stories. Picture below. Malia Obama, bad girl or embattled?

Image: news.google.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November links

I lost a bunch of links, and had a bunch more before the two bombshells of the DNC paying for the Steele dossier and being totally under Clinton's control hit.

Since I'm hoping not to lose the links again, here they are.

The Steele dossier summarized. A great summary of the dossier, with each piece discussed separately. Must read to get a good background on it.

Changes at the Fed. This was a preview of what could happen due to end of the Federal Reserve chair's term. Trump could keep Yellen, could choose a current board member similar to her, or could choose a conservative with non-standard ideas. Luckily, Trump chose Powell, the current board member. By the way, Yellen stays on the Fed board.

Australian chaos. An Australian court threw a huge monkey wrench into government with a ruling about citizenship. They ruled that if you could be a dual citizen, you were, and therefore were ineligible to hold government office. Many officeholders with foreign-born parents were caught in the ruling. Bizarre and disruptive.

Who got indicted? A good backgrounder on Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, two advisers to the Trump campaign who had ties to Russia. Papadopoulos pled guilty to charges brought by Mueller in his Russia investigation. Other charges include the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is accused of laundering $75 million.

Fun with the indictments. This is such a great read in terms of humor. It feels like a classic joke--something that could be from the 'Who's on first' era. But I think it's original.

Socialism is defunct in Russia. All kinds of interesting factoids in the article and the discussion thread.

Peace dividend in Iraq? An article telling about greatly improved Shi'ite and Sunni relations in Iraq. I hope it's not just a puff piece.

Image: farmersalmanac.com

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Antifa Apocalypse bust

I guess no one but fevered corners of the media want a repeat of Charlottesville. A couple weeks ago, White Lives Matter rallies in Tennessee were pretty much a bust, thank God. This week, a pop-up anti-fascist organization called Refuse Fascism was trying to stage rallies in 20 cities. Note that it wasn't even antifa.

They took out a large ad in the New York Times announcing the plan. That's interesting because 1) they had the money, and 2) they decided to announce just a few days before the rallies. I wonder whether this is a real group or not. I wonder who financed it.

Parts of the conservative media lost their shit. (Yes, the term applies so I'm using it.) Most of all was InfoWars. They were going to have live coverage of the rallies, hoping to show all the carnage. Or maybe hoping for a (relative) advertising bonanza.

Because carnage didn't materialize, they went to Plan B. Hype what was available. Oh My God, they're calling for the ouster of Trump and Pence. And also, laugh at the puny Austin, Texas rally where the anti-Trumpists were outnumbered by real Texans. So hype and then declare victory when the rallies don't live up to the hype.

Back in reality, the protests were minor. In Austin, anti-Trump protesters were outnumbered. In New York City, the anti-Trump forces were about 300. The pro-Trump counterprotesters were about five.

Despite the concerns, revolution didn't break out anywhere. Somehow I'm not surprised.

InfoWars: wrong again.
Image: infowars.com

Extras. Two articles about the smallish white supremacists rallies in Tennessee. A British site joined the hype-and-dismiss crowd. The Washington Post had a round-up of some of the hysteria. Fox News is coy, asked questions rather than doing any searching. It also gave a platform to the spokesman for the group but didn't question his credibility at all.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bombshells at the DNC

I don't subscribe to the belief that Clinton rigged the Democratic primary. Unless you stuff ballot boxes, bribe party reps at state conventions, or manage to disqualify your opponent or his supporters, it's hard to rig a democratic selection process. (I suppose if you own all the media, that might work too, but that doesn't pertain either.)

I'm not changing my mind due to the revelations from Donna Brazile. She's a party hack who's had various roles, including interim party chair after Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign in disgrace.

Brazile writes in overly dramatic prose about discovering the unsavory arrangement for sharing campaign and party money. Clinton gave money to the debt-ridden party in exchange for a high degree of control of the levers. This allowed her to tilt the debate schedule to her advantage, but I don't see any other major advantage that she had. I don't see evidence that this changed the eventual outcome of the primary.

It does show yet again Hillary's penchant for rigid control regardless of ethics, protocol, rules, transparency, or good judgment. Her basic drive is not for truth or honesty or the greater good, but for the maintenance of her own power as she conceives it. Again I'm relieved that she's not in the White House,.further tarnishing herself and other Dems by association.

I wish I had any hope for the Democrats to improve. Donna Brazile doesn't inspire confidence. I hated Wasserman-Schultz. I have no idea if there are any Dems I respect aside from Joe Biden, Howard Dean (maybe), and Deval Patrick. That's a pretty small number of people for a national party. But that's where I'm at with this excuse for a political party.

This country, which I've loved and respected, we may be on the skids to being a low-class country like Argentina. I hope it doesn't happen. I hope I see a turn-around before I die. I'm not hopeful though.

Image: thronesvideo.xyz

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October roundup of links

GOP releases a tax plan outline summary thumbnail. In keeping with GOP inability to deal with reality including policy making, the tax plan is 5 pages stretched onto 9 pages. It doubles the standard deduction! Cheers! And quietly takes away exemptions. It's the usual cake for the wealthy with a bit of frosting for the middle class. A good list of misleading sales pitches.

Admitted fake news author dies.  He wasn't trying to be a con artist, but rather a satirist. But, according to him: "[Trump's] followers don't fact-check anything — they'll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist."

Fake news generators on Facebook outed by Facebook. At some point, most reality-based GOPers will have to stop pretending that there wasn't Russian interference in the US election. Facebook announced more than 3000 fake ads were purchased by accounts that appear to be Russian.

The new world order that didn't happen. Interesting thought. The world was supposed to gradually accept American values by acclamation amid peace and prosperity. Ooops, it didn't happen. The inevitable wasn't inevitable.

Amazing short summary of Islamic terrorism. Maybe it's too simple, but it holds together in my opinion.

The media misreports probability. The problem includes how media reports weather predictions and the 2016 election predictions. The fact of uncertainty isn't clearly conveyed.

Critique of  The Bell Curve. The 1994 book contained the thesis that blacks were genetically cognitively inferior to other groups. The book caused an uproar. Cognitive scientist formed a committee and wrote this critique of what was wrong with the book and its handling of evidence. I've had to refer to this critique several times.

Image: fivethirtyeight.com


Friday, September 15, 2017

Links (2 of 2)

I lost 1-2 of the links I planned to show. Drat. But I also found others.

Final love letter to a spacecraft. The Cassini exploratory probe finished its life and mission, which was to send us data about Saturn and its moons. The craft was remotely instructed to crash into Saturn to be sure that it wouldn't contaminate the moons where native life might be possible.

Americans and their white president. A tour-de-force essay by Ta-nehisi Coates. He writes that whites of all kinds, not just working class, gave support to a candidate who reflected bigotry. The essay shows one way to view race relations, but I don't agree with it's the whole story. It's still significant that a black president was elected twice, and with more support than Trump got. Coates does present some chilling facts, however, such as a white felon running in the presidential primary against Obama, and getting a surprising number of votes. The Obama presidency has been difficult for many blacks because they've had to endure heightened disrespect.

More about North Korea. North Koreans have been completely immersed in the propaganda that their only purpose is to serve. That complicates both war and diplomacy. A high-ranking ex-officer suggests a naval blockade to change the dynamic. The comment section is a must-read.

Did voter fraud change this Senate election? That's a good question raised here. There are known weaknesses in New Hampshire election law. The numbers of people using out-of-state IDs were high enough in this very close election. This is plausible, but not enough evidence to say it happened.

US spending. Where the federal spending goes. I'm always looking for this info, so here's a link to a handy graph.

Driverless car crash. This summary and analysis points to the technology not being able to handle complex situations. The driver, however, was lulled into depending on the system. That would happen so easily.

Susan Rice, target of conservative smears. A lot of ugly accusations swirled around her as conservatives tried to win the news cycle when lots of Russia news was coming out. Now she's been cleared, but that information is mostly buried. Blowhard conservatives won't even remember that they defamed her. Amnesia is rampant there.

Migration issues confront Canada. Perhaps for the first time, Canada is dealing with mass migration that is poorly controlled. Will it be too much for this generous, empathetic nation?

Image: bloomberg.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

For and against the Southern Poverty Law Center

What I remember of the Southern Poverty Law Center is that they had a large and scrupulously maintained database of US hate organizations and individuals, so they were always a good resource for reporters, and even for police and the FBI. Their database also made them invaluable to civil actions against hate groups, several of which were sued into bankruptcy.

I hadn't thought much about the SPLC until a conservative commenter with an anything-goes attitude toward argumentation claimed that the SPLC is itself a hate group. The basis for her dubious claim is that the shooter at the Family Research Council in DC used information from SPLC to target an anti-gay group.

I saw several other claims that SPLC is horrible, and decided to look into it. It appeared that most of the claims against SPLC were due its labeling of anti-gay groups as hate groups. The anti-gay groups and their conservative supporters bristled under the label, believing they were unfairly classed in with the KKK and neo-Nazis. Does this smack of claiming their kind of hate is 'a good kind of hate?'

I read what SPLC had to say about one of these anti-gay groups. The SPLC says that it doesn't label groups as hate groups simply for having labeling homosexuality as wrong or sinful. It had the criteria that the group spread lies, false reports or false research, advocate violence, etc. I noted that SPLC doesn't list the Catholic Church as a hate group, so a group can have religious objections to gays without getting the hated 'hate' label. Fair enough. I decided to contribute for the first time in my life. I felt good about it--that I was making up for lost time and supporting a good organization.

That was starting maybe a year ago, and I contributed 4-5 months ago. Now I'm seeing many more attacks on SPLC. Some of the latest:
  • SPLC doesn't spend much on legal actions, but has a pile of money in offshore accounts.
  • The latest BIG slam is that it mislabels groups and then corporate America cuts off the groups' lifeblood of donations. The Ruth Institute has been cut off in that way, and it has raised a huge amount of attention. (Great PR opportunity!!!!!) I've read 1, 2, 3 articles about the Ruth Institute, the first several weeks ago (no link now) so I was already with familiar with SPLC's rationale for listing it as a hate group. The leader of the Ruth Institute has a long history with anti-gay groups such as the National Organization for Marriage.
My theory is that SPLC is getting notice because of the Charlottesville incidents. Its database provides a lot of information about the white nationalists groups involved, and that makes it look like a strong, helpful, civil-minded organization. Now, if you're a conservative with a chip on your shoulder, you don't like SPLC getting any credit, so you want to attack their credibility. So trot out the old complaints and any current complaints you can find. Call them a far-left group or whatever. The weak-minded will repeat it. For me, I've looked into their explanation for the criteria for listing a hate group, and it's solid. If you support a conservative group labeled as such, maybe you should ask them to cut out the lies and hate, and clear the air on what they actually support. That's my recommendation. Belly-aching that someone is calling you names that you don't deserve doesn't cut it.

A mild message from the progenitor of the Ruth Institute
Image: usnews.com

Extras. SPLC has good reporting on many of the rallies where greater or lesser amounts of violence has broken out. That's helpful too. However, if they are indeed sitting on a pile of money, I may not contribute again. I'll give to other organizations, and give verbal support and clicks to SPLC.

SPLC reports: The rift between the militias and alt-right groups. Many militias want to be open to blacks, particularly military veterans. They share some views with alt-right groups, but not white supremacy. That's why militias will often provide neutral security and stand between alt-right groups and counterprotesters. They support free speech rights, but think a lot of the slogans are rubbish and therefore won't be into the shouting wars and other skirmishes. This is what I've gleaned from reading. Possibly it's wrong.

The killer of two on a Portland train claimed he was protecting free speech. I hope this is wrong and fails as a defense strategy. The killer was outnumbered by three men defending Muslims. Will he claim he feared for his life?

More reporting from in and around Portland. Campus allegations and counter-allegations, protests and counter-protests.

Links (1 of 2)

My tabs overfloweth.

Decoding anonymous sources. A good guide from Lawfare. How to interpret what reporters write, indicating how many sources they have and where they are. A good news organization follows these unwritten rules. Bad organizations pretend they follow the rules, but actually make up sources, use known unreliable sources, misleadingly edit and quote, and don't fire reporters and editors who don't follow good standards.

Now, one of those sources. Seymour Hersh is implicated in the Seth Rich-to-Wikileaks story. He claims it's just a rumor. I should dedicate a post to the Seth Rich story, but I'm too lazy. Briefly, Rich was a low-level staffer at the DNC or Hillary campaign and was killed in his DC neighborhood. Cue the conspiracy theories. Fox News got ahead of itself and coerced a contributor to say stuff he didn't actually believe, prompting him to sue. Seymour Hersh is involved because he is supposedly the source of some of that info. There's a tape of Hersh talking about the case. Strangely the tape begins and ends abruptly. I have suspicions that Hersh contradicts or says it's mostly his speculation. I haven't trusted edited tapes since Shirley Sherrod as smeared. Nonetheless, Hersh isn't saying what he knows. He ought to clear it up since the concern about a conspiracy is important here.

Sheriffs as the supreme law. Here is another right-wing idea to counter big, bad government. The concept is that the sheriff, being locally elected and accountable, is the supreme authority in a county, and doesn't have to enforce national laws. Remember Bull Connor and this doesn't seem so good. Joe Arpaio is supposedly an advocate for this idea. Luckily, he lost his last bid for reelection.

Another worrisome tactic to watch. Using Freedom-of-Information requests to undermine and sue small local school districts. Tactic supported by Steve Bannon. The goal is mirky, but maybe it's hidden in the settlements.

Russian election interference (another example). Something to watch. Fake accounts on Facebook bought ad time from Facebook. The purchase was automated, so even Facebook didn't know it was happening. Parking this timeline of Russia interference denial here. Hoping I can find it again.

Image: bostonglobe.com

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Antifa and the MSM

I don't remember what month I first heard of Antifa, which is a loosely organized anti-fascist organization. I do remember how I heard of it. It was mentioned by some right-wing commenters. They implied Antifa were leftists, so I looked up what Antifa was. I thought it was probably some imaginary conspiracy group, like the elitist pedophile ring Hillary runs.

It turns out that Antifa isn't a figment of a nutjob's imagination. It's real, and my usual news sources (Google News with occasionally visits to American Conservative, National Review, Fox News, and Breitbart) had failed me.

I'm not sure why the MSM had barely reported on Antifa until August. It's not that Antifa didn't make appearances. They were involved in the Berkeley riots, and I was certainly aware of those. They were also involved in property destruction on Inauguration Day, and various other demonstrations.

However, the MSM wasn't mentioning that Antifa was a group, and wasn't emphasizing how protesters were violent and coordinated in dress and action. Was the MSM giving cover to Antifa? We probably won't find out unless reporters and/or editors talk about either their lack of knowledge or their suppression of information.

I've been able to confirm the lack of coverage by the MSM through a Google search. From December 2016 to March 2017, the top mentions of Antifa USA are by (in order): Al-Jazeera,  The Guardian, the BBC, The Nation, and Hot Press. In contrast, the top mentions of Antifa USA today are by: USA Today, Facebook, Wikipedia, CNN, The Daily Wire, and The Atlantic. It's definitely a failure by the MSM that the media sources of right-wingers are faster on the information than the MSM is.

It's not that Antifa was totally unknown in the MSM. Here's an article from the New York Times dated 2/2/17 that reports on Antifa. Yet Antifa wasn't referenced in this WaPo article. I recall arguments about whether the violent protesters were students or not, whether they were outsiders who took an opportunity to vandalize. News organizations didn't seem to know... or perhaps a few reporters did, but the information didn't percolate up to the top editor and anchors.

Right wing media perhaps wanted to pretend the violence was by typical leftists, not a violent fringe. Left wing media perhaps wanted to pretend that it wasn't an organized group of violent anti-fascist protesters. Nor were there organized, violent groups who tried to close down Trump rallies. Those anti-Trumpers were individuals who were concerned about Trump's rhetoric, not an organized violent fringe.

Now Antifa is too well known. The MSM still isn't investigating its ties with BLM organizations. They don't delve too far into their communist views, or how they fight violently even when confronting non-violent opponents, or how they're happy to destroy corporate property. Conservative media is pretending Soros, Antifa, and BLM are all one and all violent. Who can you trust? No one.

By the way, this may be the closest thing to the Antifa motto:
You fight them by writing letters and making phone calls so you don’t have to fight them with fists. You fight them with fists so you don’t have to fight them with knives. You fight them with knives so you don’t have to fight them with guns. You fight them with guns so you don’t have to fight them with tanks.
They do seem to emphasize the fighting. Let's enjoy some violence for a noble cause... or close enough.

Image: redspark.nu

Extras. According to this video, a lot of Antifa are sociology majors who want to be heroes but don't know much about fighting. That fits with what I've seen. Antifa disrupt a peaceful rally in Berkeley.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interesting links again

How to lose your job at Google. Write a memo about how Google is mishandling diversity issues and has an intolerant leftist bias. While the author did make some blanket statements that I consider erroneous and patronizing, he emphasized evaluating people as individuals, and was against group discrimination. He seems to have lost his job because views he expressed outraged too many within the company. Simply put, his views didn't line up with a dogma of many, and he lost his job because of it.

Signs of war in Korea. The military choices in Korea aren't great. If the US decides on a military offensive against N. Korea, typically there would be a build-up of military resources and a withdrawal of civilians. Of course, that signals a military step to N. Korea, and they might strike because of it. It seems to me that an unannounced, substantial attack would be more effective. However, a deadly response from N. Korea has to be expected. I don't see any military response with minimal casualties. A write-up of the possibilities and their disadvantages.

Rational approach to Russia. I'm suspicious of most American opinions about Russia. Political blogs are awash with Russian shills and bots commenting. Partisan politics has overshadowed clear thinking. So I wondered what the Germany policies toward Russia are. Here's a summary.

New strategy in Afghanistan. Actually, somewhat the same strategy, but with some more troops and maybe stronger tactics. Afghanistan will not be fit to defend itself anytime in the foreseeable future, so it makes sense to try to minimize the terrorists Afghanistan would harbor. Trump talked of winning and peace, but reality is that the military mission is successful with much less than that--such as the avoidance of Afghanistan becoming a major terrorist training and safe zone.

An archive of Trump's lies. This might be handy. However, I wonder whether the Washington Post would be archiving the lies of Hillary Clinton as carefully.

Image: washingtonpost.com

Late additions. List of Arpaio outrages in honor of his pardon by President Trump. This is only a partial list. I visit my parents in Phoenix, and remember Arpaio having a peaceful speaker arrested at an evening meeting because he didn't like her viewpoint. Arbitrary arrests didn't even make the outrage list.

Description of Hurricane Harvey. The aspects that caused it to flood so much of east Texas.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Links, video, and interesting info about Charlottesville

Maybe I was somewhat obsessed about trying to uncover the truth about Charlottesville. Instead reading accounts, I wanted to watch video, preferably unedited, meaning unmanipulated. I wanted to see what I could for myself.

I've watched maybe 10 hours of video, and also read a few additional accounts. Here are some of the things I've learned.

Image: ktvn.com

Not quite so bad a person. A student from University of Nevada participated in the torch march, and some pictures of him went viral. Yes, he looks like an enthusiastic Nazi youth. What he says is more complicated than that. He believes in value of all cultures, so he's against segregation, elimination, and the idea of white supremacy. Yes, he marched with some people who felt that way, but he wasn't chanting any slogans he didn't agree with, so he was silent for 'blood and soil.' Somehow, though, he doesn't regret marching with a bunch of people who do believe those things. There was an unsuccessful petition to throw him out of the university, but they refused to on the basis of his right to free speech.

Links to many accounts from the LA Times. Another article with many links, focusing on the alt-right view. Helpful map here.

Alt-right manifesto. This story hasn't gotten much play. Richard Spencer wrote the bullet-point list of concerns with the help of a half-dozen prominent colleagues. Race is the highest concern. Second is the 'Jewish question' which alt-righters often abbreviate to 'JQ.'

A neo-Confederate group musters before the rally. Then they march to the park, fighting with counter-protesters once along the way. Over 40 minutes of video. Hunter Wallace, who is taking the video, writes that "wave after wave attempt[ed] to charge the park." His video belies this, showing one attack. At 40:00, he and some other protesters easily walk past 'peaceniks' on the perimeter to enter another portion of the park, showing that at least one major part of the perimeter was peaceful. A written account by another protest leader, from California.

In contrast, video of skirmishes. This might have been the entrance corner where a lot of skirmishes occurred and hand-thrown missiles were regularly flying. Strangely, there were no barricades dividing protesters from counter-protesters in this section of the park.

Armed neutral parties. The work of dividing protesters and counter-protesters who loathed each other and wanted to fight fell to some militia groups, such as the Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters, and a workers' militia called the Redneck Revolt. Militias get involved as a buffer and to protect free speech, but disagree with many of the political positions and especially disdain the chanting and goading.

How did the permit happened. Of course Charlottesville didn't want the rally to take place. An earlier rally of 50 KKK and 1000 counter-protesters showed the potential dangers. However, a judge ruled otherwise. We may continue hearing about Charlottesville for several years as limits on rallies and the use of emergency declarations are litigated.

Image: vidmax.com

Extras. Guide to the symbols and the cast of characters. A 22-minute documentary on one of the organizers. Skip the middle if you're pressed for time. One alt-right leader decided to opt out because the rally was too racist. Finally, a nurse who is also a neo-Confederate and Jewish talks about the rally. She thinks Nazis are weird, but really hates the counter-protesters for being Marxists, and is not at all sorry about the death. How many were Marxists? Probably a bunch, but it would be helpful to know approximately. However, if you're throwing your lot with Nazis because you don't like Marxists, is that a good choice?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What the Charlottesville Nazis were saying

The Daily Stormer is no longer available by regular browser. However, pages on the internet get cached sometimes, and the Stormer was popular enough to get cached quite often over the weekend.

Go to cachedview.com, or following my links.

Let's see my selection of the lovely conversation at the Daily Stormer. (Note: I didn't grab the timestamps on everything.)

[Friday 8/11/17]
I’m getting reports of large groups arriving and having trouble with their AirBnB reservations.

Azzmador’s Texas crew is staying in a hotel in one of the surrounding towns.

REMEMBER: At the event, keep your weapons in your car if you brought one. Do not bring it to the event. We do not want a shootout.

Right Wing Motorcycle Squadratti are in #Charlottesville and out of control!! on #HandsomeThursday

If you click to enlarge that picture, you’ll notice that both the cameraman on the left and the guy in the light blue shirt appear to be kikes. VICE is a full-kike operation.

4:00 PM:

SWITCH TO PRIVATE CHANNELS ONLY FROM HERE ON OUT

5:19 PM:

The argument from the kike Mayor and his Negroid Black Panther sidekick is that they said there would only be 400 people and there are going to be a whole helluva lot more than that.

Word on the ground from Daily Stormer staff is that the permit to hold the rally in Lee Park has been officially issued! Looks like we won out!

This is last night! [Torchlit march on UVa] The time and place didn’t get posted here because it was a secret arrangement, I apologize to those that missed it.

20 PEOPLE STOOD AGAINST HUNDREDS OF FASCISTS!

THIS IS HAPPENING NOW!

NO ONE IS STANDING IN OUR WAY!

CHARLOTTESVILLE BELONGS TO US!

AMERICA BELONGS TO US!

People are being bussed in to the park now.

Antifa are on Twitter panicking, some saying they won’t even bother to attend given that their numbers will be so few.

The thing that is going to be in the most danger here is your car, so try to park in a lot that’s being observed, or just take a taxi or an Uber to the event (if you’re not riding on the bus).

[Saturday 8/12/17]
10:40 AM:

The chanting war begins.

“You’re fags, go home you have no testosterone” VS “No racists, no KKK, no fascists USA.”

11:00 AM:

Azzmador has unveiled his banner.

“Gas the kikes, race war now!”

12:11 PM

ANTIFA GETTING THEIR ASSES KICKED EVERYWHERE.

12:31 PM:

FUCK YOU FAGGOTS!

You heard that right. They're chanting "Fuck you faggots." 

GET TO MCINTIRE PARK NOW AND FIND AZZMADOR, CANTWELL OR SACCO VANDAL! STAY IN THE GROUP! DO NOT SEPARATE ONCE YOU ARE BEHIND ONE OF THESE THREE MEN! 

3:46 PM:

Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him.

Same dickhead Virginia state cops who attacked our rally just crashed a fucking helicopter.

Police chief quadroon such a bitch. I have defended cops. Then they betray us and attack us in what amounted to an ambush.

There it is. Reporting straight from the the good people on the right who care so much about the statue of General Lee.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White supremacists show their nature at Charlottesville

Note: Many of my sources were from the Daily Stormer site. It has now been kicked off by its hosting ISP, and is having trouble finding a new host. It may have to switch to a Russian host. The Daily Stormer links may not be available again at all, or they may return. 

Being an American is not boring. It can be deeply embarrassing, even mortifying sometimes. It can be inspiring. It is not dull. There are so many moral aspects to being a thinking citizen in the US, and some of these aspects were on display this past weekend.

Many groups involved in white supremacy coordinated to sponsor a large rally in Charlottesville, VA, the location of a large state university. I hope I can find the list of the organizers, which I read somewhere in the many articles I read in the past 72 hours.

Maybe I'll start the list of sources where I started--a blog called Occidental Dissent. Some things I noticed: the reference to the confederate flag, how-to information on getting ready for rallies, including comments on how to arm yourself. The list of other alt-right blogs. The blogger is taking donations to fund his participation at rallies, and had collected $675 from 9 donors so far. Then there was the link to The Daily Stormer.

Operational Security is a chilling read. It's describes how to cover your tracks. Use a burner phone for all rally-related communications, and don't put anything personal on it. Don't use hate speech on the phone since it may be used against you and the movement. (The author doesn't follow his own advice since The Daily Stormer is full of hate speech.) If you get involved in 'something heavy,' like homicide, flee the country or flee your identity. Wow. This sounds like advice for people with peaceful intent, doesn't it?

The incidents - Torch march on the UVa campus

The white groups planned a march across the campus on Friday night. I don't know whether they didn't publicize their plan, but there wasn't much organized counter-protest. Again, it must of been chilling to witness hundreds of white supremacists carrying torches, marching, chanting, like being in Germany when the Nazis were gaining strength. There were many people who drawn out to witness, but few organized to resist or counter the message. The white groups  declared a huge victory. They jeered at the few protesters, surrounded them, eventually attacked them and ran them off. This was the huge victory that the groups boasted about.

Anti fascists are surrounded by hundreds of fascists at Jefferson statue. No police.

Incident - Scheduled rally 

The main rally was scheduled for Saturday noon at a park where a statue of Robert E. Lee is currently located, but may be removed due to its association with the Confederacy and history of racial bias. The city tried to revoke the permit for the rally, but a federal judge ruled that they must allow it.

However, the crowds turning out, both the white supremacists and the counter protesters, turned out in large numbers and were clearly poised for skirmishes. My speculation (there hasn't been clear reporting) was that the number of counter-protesters was very large partly in reaction to the torch-light rally the night before.

There were also very large numbers of people taking video, some with professional camera equipment. The videos show how many people were recording events. This is wonderful for history--that so many want to witness and capture the events.

Another thing I notice from the videos. Many of the white groups have similar clothing. Many are carrying shields and wearing helmets and other protective gear. They are dressed for confrontation. That kind of organization and preparation were less common among the counter protesters.

The state and local government, based on the conditions that were volatile and unsafe, cancelled the rally. I support this, but I imagine that the city and state will be sued. Already some of the white protest groups are whining that their free speech rights were restricted and the police didn't protect them as they should have. I have no sympathy for them because they were clearly preparing for violence.

Incident - Car ramming protesters, killing one 

A man who earlier in the day joined a white supremacist group called Vanguard America, drove his car at high speed into a large group of counter protesters. One of them died, many others were severely injured. He tried to escape at high speed from the scene, but was observed by many people out on the streets and was caught almost immediately.

The response from the Daily Stormer was particularly repugnant. Someone said the guy was anti-Trump (wrong). Then someone said he acted in self-defense because he was pelted with bricks (wrong). Another said no one of importance was hurt. Another that the driver was Jewish because his mother's surname is 'Bloom.' The fatality was called a fat, childless slut. That is just so lovely. These are people who are hateful and hurtful with no respect for truth or any principles other than tribalism.

There is so much more I could write about, and some of that will be in the extra section.

Image: mysanantonio.com

Extras. The live thread from the Daily Stormer is chilling--the triumphalism, the complaints that the police didn't protect them in their quest to provoke fights, their pretended innocence, their hate for so many others with the least bit of difference, their whining after a death that their free speech (a news conference that next day) wasn't protected from huge outraged crowds. The comment thread. A pretty good timeline.

The propaganda machine for the alt-right has been fairly successful. Too many think that the leftist counter protesters are the problem, including this soon-to-be-former GOP official. Unfortunately, our idiot president is also one of those who have drunk the Kool-Aid of right-wing propaganda. He spoke about the murder and mayhem with no conviction, and with weasel words about 'many sides' being wrong, as though it was expedient for him to gloss over the involvement of white supremacists. Trump deserves the flack he caught: this from the Weekly Standard, this much blunter, harsher, and painfully true piece from the Washington Post. The alt-right were happy with Trump's vagueness, and with his grudging slightly strong statement two days later.

One of the first on-the-ground accounts I read. Several others. How this may be pivotal for the white supremacy movement. At a white supremacy rally in Seattle one day later, a huge police presence prevented violence, not to say this was possible in Charlottesville.

Update 8/15/17. Trump has returned to saying that there were 'bad people' on many sides, or both sides. He seems to have a clearer sense now that there were neo-Nazis there. However, he seems to think the right-wing hate groups weren't a majority of the right-wing people there. (My sense is that a majority did identify as white rights supporters at best, and often KKK or neo-Nazi.) Trump seems to understand that there were good people among the counter protesters, but he focuses on the bad ones. The press seems not to acknowledge at all the violent groups among the counter protesters. In this, Trump is more accurate than the press. So Trump underplays the bad actors among the right, overplays the bad actors among the left, and seems not to know at all about the Nazi-like march on Friday night.

Update 8/16/17. It's important to see what The Daily Stormer was writing and showing about the Charlottesville rallies. I took a screen shot which provides information that isn't available now. Here is the screen shot: (Click to enlarge.)




Update 10/23/17. I've argued with someone who is claiming the driver became angry and/or disoriented from a bat blow to the back of his car. However, the full video shows the car speeding down the alley, almost hitting people, before the person with the bat swung. Slow the video down to see.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cleaning the White House

I'm a bit late on this story, though it's still relevant and may be relevant for a while to come. Like Kelly, Trump's new chief of staff, McMaster was generally considered a wise choice, and not a known crazy.

Unfortunately, some Trump supporters like crazy. McMaster is therefore having some problems and riling up some folks. He's been trying to clear out some of the crazy that was appointed to the National Security staff, and there's pushback. So far, the pushback has been ineffectual. Trump has indicated support for McMaster, and hasn't tweeted catty comments as he did with Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General.

Bannon, who is a patron to many of these crazies (as part of his position as the near-alt-right), has been keeping his head down and avoiding the volleys. It's interesting to see which parts of the conservative media are on which side.

One right wing favorite wrote a memo about how there's a shadow government in the US, and it's not being displaced as it ought to be. The author has now been displaced, to the howls of some. There are complaint about 'the deep state' and Obama holdovers, both of which are probably traitors. It's a damn shame that this chance to finally clean up those damn socialists is slipping away. If America isn't great again, it's because of those traitors that got to stay on.

Image: thepeoplescube.com


Extra. Not particularly connected, but a taste of Russian 'news.' It would be a horrible template for news here.

Update 8/14/17. I was right about relevance. Here's a pair of articles about the feud and ideological differences between Bannon and McMaster, include lies peddled on (wait for it) Alex Jones' show.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A bundle of important stories

Conservative media fabrication revealed. This should be so big. Fox News fell for a peddled fake story about (murdered) Seth Rich and Wikileaks. Now there's a suit, and the papers filed contain a wealth of evidence about how the lies got on the air.

CNN skews its reporting. "Federal investigators ... seized on Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward... The web of financial ties could offer a more concrete path toward potential prosecution than the broader and murkier questions of collusion..." This is supposed to be an investigation, not a fishing expedition bent on prosecution. CNN seems to have forgotten that.

Sessions skews his condemnation of leaks. Great story with analysis of a logical trick that Sessions uses. He probably does it knowingly.

Lies are the family business. Donald jr. lied about a meeting with a Russian lawyer. Well, lied at first and then told the truth. It turns out Donald sr. lied about it too. Is anyone surprised?

Stats about the cost of tax deduction. This is important hard information. What costs the government more: mortgage interest deduction, 401K's, or the earned income tax credit? It didn't know, and I was a bit surprised.

Trump the wimp. Putin is disrespecting America, and what is Donald doing about it? Why?

Image: thecoldplayer.deviantart.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Quick summary: Repeal FAIL

This is an important issue, but I don't have a bunch of time to spend on it. The Senate failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. McConnell proposed, negotiated, twisted arms, and pulled bills from votes. It was a big embarrassment, so McConnell and the Senate made a last ditch effort TO DO SOMETHING (never a good situation).

McConnell had the Senate voting on bills or amendments within an hour or so of when their text was released. So much for 'a deliberative body' or not 'ramming it down their throats.' John McCain, with stitches on his left eyebrow and newly diagnosed with brain cancer, flew in from Arizona as a necessary vote to start debate-athon.

Two days later, McCain was one of three GOP senators who killed the effort. Maybe it was doomed anyhow. The conservatives vowed that they needed a fuller repeal, with more taxes gone. They folded pretty quickly. The moderates wanted assurances that Medicaid funding wouldn't disappear--this is a higher priority to senators as state-wide representatives, as I mentioned before.

McConnell promised his colleagues that the bill would go to conference, and their concerns would be addressed in the future. Paul Ryan didn't promise that. What is the promise of a politician like McConnell?

A lot of senators who were leery voted for the measure based on these assurances, but McCain didn't, and that was the killing stroke.

Image: kitv.com

Extras. What next? Maybe some bipartisan negotiation.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Trump update: Bad week, then getting better

I was very worried last week. There were lots of reports that Trump was trying to work out how to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to investigate Russian interference in the election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. Trump was also bad-mouthing his Attorney General essentially for not being corrupt enough to shut down the Russia investigation.

This week, it's much calmer, most likely due to John Kelly becoming White House chief of staff on 7/28/17. This whole week as been such a contrast... and such a relief.

Last week, Trump was floating the idea of replacing Session using his power to make recess appointments. A bunch of senators were telling him not to do that--telling him through the public media so we could all listen to the warnings.

Trump also added a kink to the week with a tweet declaring transgender people couldn't serve in the military 'in any capacity.' Where did that come from? Probably a mish-mash of things Trump heard, and he decided that particular day was a good day to pretend he could act by fiat. Fiat hasn't actually worked. So far, the military has ignored him. His declaration may die just like his declaration that Obama wiretapped him died. "It's just another Trump eruption. Pay no attention." Really, it's pretty stupid to announce an important new policy via twitter, and not to have any plans for implementing the policy. But Trump is that stupid.

But back to Kelly. I have a guess that Kelly saw the craziness of July 24-27, and concluded he had to do something about it. That 'something' was calling Trump and volunteering to be chief of staff and clean up the whole mess. Plenty of credit to Kelly for stepping up. A bit of credit to Trump for saying yes. I hope this works. Reminder--this is my speculation on what happened.

Image: michaelpramirez.com

Extra. The small worries about Kelly taking this job. Kelly got Trump to stop bashing Sessions. Idiotic opinion piece on how Trump should resist firing Mueller, but should fire Sessions and Rosenstein.