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Look at that subtle off white coloring — the tasteful thickness of it

[ 292 ] June 6, 2016 |

business card

Oh my God it even has a watermark.

An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge’s Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge’s credibility and impugn reporters as racists.

“We will overcome,” Trump said, according to two supporters who were on the call and requested anonymity to share their notes with Bloomberg Politics. “And I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.” . . .

Trump ignited the controversy when he defended his real-estate program by saying Curiel has an inherent conflict of interest because of his Mexican heritage, because the candidate has proposed building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to curb illegal immigration. Curiel was born in Indiana, and Trump’s complaint has been criticized by Republican leaders, legal experts, and other commentators. Trump on Sunday broadened his argument by saying on CBS that it’s possible a Muslim judge could treat him unfairly too, because of his proposed ban on Muslim immigration.

“I should have won this thing years ago,” Trump said on the call about the case, adding that Curiel is a “member of La Raza.” Curiel is affiliated with La Raza Lawyers of California, a Latino bar association.

A clearly irritated Trump told his supporters to attack journalists who ask questions about the lawsuit and his comments about the judge.

“The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” Trump said. “I would go at ’em.”

Suggesting a broader campaign against the media, Trump said the campaign should also actively criticize television reporters. “I’d let them have it,” he said, referring to those who Trump portrayed as hypocrites.

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The Unluckiest City in America

[ 53 ] June 6, 2016 |

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Interesting article on why so many gigantic tornadoes have hit Moore, Oklahoma in the last two decades. Of course, Moore is right in Tornado Alley but that says nothing about why so many have hit that one spot and moreover, why they have all been supersized. Almost certainly it’s just awful luck. But then again, tornado science is a work in progress.

What Do You mean ‘Eurr’?

[ 187 ] June 6, 2016 |

Tip – If you post a comment with more than two links it will go into the spam cage with the feral spams. Prolonged contact with untamed spams will turn your comment into an advert for body-part enhancing pills. Don’t let this happen to you!

Reminder – The last virtual reading group for Out of Sight (chapters 5 & 6) is on 6/8 (Wednesday) at 2 pm, ET. Loomis will be available to answer your questions about the book, the destructive powers of house cats vs. anti-union governors and pig-based breakfast food.

Random – In another comment section good citizen and professional JenBob detractor sharculese shared this funny story that will make some people feel old, but I think is an interesting commentary on how quickly the way we consume music has changed in less than half a century.

I reproduce it here. Feel free to post more casual B.S. in the comments.

I’ve been waiting to post this until we had a more casual post to bullshit on, but since you teed me up for it perfectly, I had an SEK -level exchange with a student, yesterday.

There’s some prologue that leads up to it but I’ll just cut to the good part:

Me: I’m assuming you’re not a Nirvana fan?

Her: No. My brother has that one album, it’s got like a naked baby floating in the water and-

Me: Nevermind.

Her: Well, sorry I said anything.

Me: No, the album is called Nevermind.

Her: How can you know an album based just on the cover? I don’t even know what any of Justin Beiber’s album covers look like.*

Me: Well see, back in the day, if you wanted to listen to an album you had to go to the store and buy a physical copy of it.

Her: Yeah, I just get all the songs I listen to on my phone.

Me: Back in the day, phones didn’t play music.

Her: Well, they did, you just had to go on the internet.

Me. Cell phones used to not have the internet, either.

Her: I don’t believe you.

*I know that last part sounds made up, but I swear she said it.

“Sausage-Wielding Nationalists”

[ 130 ] June 6, 2016 |

grilled aubergine and courgette

I’ve heard of meat eaters showing contempt for vegans, but I guess I never made the connection between veganism and undermining the nation-state.

A vegan cafe in the centre of Tbilisi was shocked to find itself the subject of far-right ire after a group arrived and threw meat on patrons’ plates, leading to a public brawl.

Customers said a group entered the cafe wearing sausages around their necks and carrying slabs of meat on skewers, before attacking customers and staff.

Witnesses described the attackers as “far-right extremists”, and said the clash spilled onto the street outside after the attackers were asked to leave. Minor injuries were reported but the perpetrators fled before police arrived.

A statement issued on Facebook by the Kiwi Cafe on Monday described the incident as “an anti-vegan provocative action” accusing the attackers of being “neo-Nazis” who support “fascist ideas”.

According to the statement, the attackers “pulled out grilled meat, sausages, and fish and started eating them and throwing them at us… they were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”

This gets us closer to the real issue:

The statement also alleged that memberes of group had come to the neighbourhood a month earlier and asked a nearby shopkeeper whether foreigners or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community frequented the cafe.

Of course. It’s the queers and their quinoa undermining Georgian manhood. For conservatives, it’s pretty much always some version of this.

I suppose all this means is that our commenter Progressiveliberal will see himself as even more of a martyr….

Republicans Attack Trump For Repeating Republican Orthodoxy

[ 167 ] June 6, 2016 |

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The Donald is upset that Republicans are criticizing him for making racist comments about a federal judge:

Donald Trump said Monday it was “inappropriate” for Newt Gingrich to demand he drop the subject of an American judge’s ethnicity and start acting like “a potential leader of the United States.” But Trump did not comment on the other Republican leaders’ unanimous call for him to lay off the jurist, a sign that the GOP presidential candidate doesn’t want to blow up the fragile truce he has struck with them.

And, you know, Trump has a point. Not because his comments about Curiel aren’t racist — they certainly are. But it is fair to wonder when his arguments somehow became taboo within the Republican Party.

You may remember, for example, the discourse surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Her formal credentials were impeccable, essentially identical to Sam Alito’s. And, yet, Republicans routinely described her as “unqualified” because her background meant that she couldn’t be an impartial judge. A particularly common talking point was to compare Sotomayor (Princeton, Yale Law, more than two decade’s worth of experience as a federal judge) with Harriet Miers (SMU, no judicial experience, no experience as a prosecutor, holder of elected office or legal scholar, favorite justice was either Warren Burger or Earl Warren, she’s not sure) because they’re both women and therefore presumptively equally unqualified.

I’m also old enough to remember the National Review‘s chief legal affairs writer arguing that a judge should recuse himself from hearing a same-sex marriage case because he was gay.

In other words, Trump probably got the idea that only straight, conservative white men could be truly impartial judges from…listening to how Republicans talk about judges. No wonder he thinks the circular firing squad is unfair.

Can We Control Imports Based Upon Labor Standards in Production? Yes.

[ 8 ] June 6, 2016 |

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There’s no good argument to be made that the United States can’t get a handle on the global exploitation of labor by placing bans on products made under certain conditions or from nations and companies that don’t open their factories to international inspectors. You can argument whether we should or the details about how such a program would work, but there’s no real argument that we can’t do it. That’s because we already do it.

Imports of the sugar substitute stevia, both extracts and derivatives, produced by PureCircle Ltd. in China will be detained at all U.S. ports of entry, after Customs and Border Protection announced June 1 that those products are made with the use of convict labor.

Customs Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said companies must examine their supply chains “to understand product sourcing and the labor used to generate their products.” He said the agency “is committed to ensuring U.S. values outweigh economic expediency and as part of its trade enforcement responsibilities, will work to ensure products made with forced labor do not cross our borders.”

Producers use the leaves of the stevia plant to produce a sugar substitute.

U.S. law requires Customs to block imports that are made in whole or part by forced labor, including convict labor, indentured labor and forced child labor.

This is a result of the recent bill closing the loophole in the 1930 Tariff Act that allowed prison labor to make products if the products could not be acquired in any other way. China and American companies had blown that loophole wide open and now it is closed. If we care about labor standards overseas, if we don’t want 1100 workers to die when their factory collapses upon them, if we don’t want children to be exposed to massive pollution at school from clothing produced for the American market, etc., we can make the choice to stop it. We simply don’t make that choice. We don’t even have a national conversation around it. Closing the prison labor loophole and banning products made by convicts is not the end of creating international labor standards that provide workers dignity. It’s just the very beginning.

Shorter Uber: “Gentlemen, To Evil!”

[ 118 ] June 6, 2016 |

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The more one knows about Uber, the more shocking its corporate culture and behavior becomes. It needs more drivers with decent cars. So what is its solution? Offer drivers sub-prime loans for cars at high interest rates!

To solve that problem, the company has raised $1 billion to start Xchange Leasing, a sub-prime lender with the sole purpose of getting poor people into new cars so they can drive for the ride-hailing service.

If you’ve got a license and are willing to drive, Uber will hook you up with a new car, no matter how bad your credit. To make sure you make your payments, though, Uber will automatically deduct them weekly from what you earn as a driver. If you don’t drive enough, or you fail to make your lease payment, Xchange has folks to take the car back.

As for the terms, well, here’s what Mark Williams, a lecturer at Boston University’s business school told Bloomberg News: “The terms, the way they’re proposed, are predatory and are very much driven toward profiting off drivers.”

Uber, which is now valued at $62.5 billion, can only make money if tens of thousands of people sign up as drivers. That’s because 50 percent of Uber drivers quit after just six months.

Xchange wants to address that by striking deals with automakers and Wall Street backers to lease 100,000 cars to new Uber drivers. Uber says they are providing a pathway for poor people to buy a new car.

Unfortunately, Xchange Leasing sounds more like a payday-loan racket built into a company store. The lease increases the company’s control over the driver, who Uber still insists is nothing more than an “independent” contractor.

How is someone independent when Uber controls access to customers, sets the billing rates, demands a minimum number of hours and owns the car and the predatory lease on it?

I can think of another way Uber could find good cars. The company could buy the cars itself. But no, of course not, because Uber’s entire model is built upon outsourcing all risk and obligation onto the drivers while maintaining control over anything that makes profit.

Meanwhile, David Plouffe’s post-Obama career is as yucky as anyone could imagine. See, Uber has just received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia? I know, what could possibly go wrong. What would a company built entirely on forcing workers to take all the risks need all that money for? To create a global monopoly. What did Plouffe have to do with this? He the one who put it all together. Plouffe is basically the public face of Uber now. Of course, I wonder if there is anyone in Saudi Arabia who isn’t allowed to be an Uber driver and who must rely on ride services because they can’t drive? Oh yeah, women.

The deal between the only country in the world that bans female drivers and Silicon Valley’s ride-sharing company Uber Technologies Inc. may be as unusual as it is convenient. What’s sure is that it’s caused outrage among many Saudi women.

They are angry that Uber’s new $US 3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund not only means the government directly profits from the ban, but also it effectively – in their view – endorses the country’s no-women-behind-the-wheel policy. The investment is part of the ultra-conservative Gulf country’s steps toward making money from things other than oil.

But it raised hackles on social media, where the hashtag hashtag سعوديات_يعلن_مقاطعه_اوبر# (Saudi women announce Uber boycott) gained traction, and women posted pictures showing them deleting Uber apps from their phones.

Uber has operated in Riyadh? since 2014, and along with another service, Careem, is popular with Saudi women, who have sought the right to drive for more than two decades. They are forced to pay chauffeurs, most of them foreigners, or rely on male members of the family to drive them.

“They’re investing in our pain, in our suffering,” Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s historian who teaches at Qatar University, said in an interview from Doha. “This institutionalizes women’s inferiority and dependency, and it turns women into an object of investment.”

Sounds like a chance to rake in the cash!

Bundyism in Action

[ 28 ] June 6, 2016 |

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What would happen if the dreams of Cliven Bundy and his clan came true and the federal government sold off all its public lands in the West to the highest bidder? We can have a pretty good idea of this because western states have already done this with their own state lands. If we look at Idaho for an example, the lesson is that selling off the public lands is a terrible idea.

Recently, as a start at getting at the truth, The Wilderness Society conducted an analysis of how Idaho treats the lands it already manages. What the nonprofit organization found makes it hard to believe that Idaho politicians wouldn’t move quickly to sell off and close access to our public lands. Of the lands granted to Idaho when it became a state, Idaho has sold off 1.7 million acres –– just over 40 percent –– of the original amount. The primary buyers have been mining and timber companies. Other state lands sold off have since been developed into strip malls, country clubs and private fishing clubs.

Still, state legislators act perplexed when some residents say they fear what would happen if federally managed public lands were given to states like Idaho. In a hearing this spring, Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, tried to explain why the distrust exists: ” Most of the feedback I get is in opposition. … They (the public) don’t trust the people they elect; they’re more inclined to trust federal bureaucrats.”

James Holt, a Nez Perce tribal member and former chairman of the Tribal Fish and Wildlife Commission, warned, “Once these public lands end up in the hands of corporations and private individuals, the freedom to use and enjoy them is almost impossible to get back.”

Here’s more recent troubling news: Between 2000 and 2009, Idaho sold 98,000 acres of its state-managed land. Why, then, would anyone expect state officials to do anything different if they gained control of federal lands? According to Idaho sportsmen like Jerry Bullock, who is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association as well as a Safari Club International member, “The loss of access for sportsmen in Idaho would be staggering if the state were to get its hands on our Forest Service and BLM lands.”

Idaho isn’t the only state with a strong history of liquidating its land. New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon and Wyoming all share a history of selling off their lands. In total, Western states have disposed of over 31 million acres of land, an area roughly equivalent to the state of Louisiana.

At most, the western states get a one-time payoff that will be quickly spent. And then? Mining and timber companies, golf courses, huge corporate farms. If the western lands are sold, it won’t be smaller ranchers like Cliven Bundy that benefit. It will be the Mormon Church, which has huge cattle operations and a tremendous amount of cash on hand. Privatizing the public lands helps almost no one. Keeping them public means all of us can enjoy or use them, even if we don’t always agree on how to manage them. It’s a clear and obvious call, but the next time Republicans control Congress and the White House, expect to see a lot of our national heritage liquidated.

Is Suggesting That Judges With Mexican Parents Cannot be Impartial Racist? Views Differ

[ 50 ] June 6, 2016 |

mark_halperin

Your elite media:

On Friday’s edition of MSNBC’s “With All Due Respect,” two white guys had a spirited debate over a question that has America stumped: Were the comments Donald Trump made about Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity racist? To be fair, it seemed like a conversation only one of them wanted to be having.

The video, flagged by Media Matters, shows Bloomberg journalist Mark Halperin insisting that Trump’s comments were “not racial” because “Mexico is not a race.” His co-host John Heilemann maintains that Trumps’ comments engage in “racial politics” and are designed to “stir up racial animus.”

The co-hosts were responding to remarks Trump has made throughout the week arguing that Curiel should recuse himself from cases involving Trump University, claiming the judge’s “Mexican heritage” is a “conflict of interest.” Curiel was born in Indiana.

With the possible exception of Maureen Dowd’s, no political pundit’s prominence says more about our underachieving and overcompensated elites than Halperin’s.

…speaking of Dowd…

David French Out. Who Is David French?

[ 55 ] June 6, 2016 |

I know there have been a couple of entries here dealing with David French’s non-candidacy. But for those of you holding out hope he was going to be the Great White Dope of the Republican party, I have sour news for you: NRO’s sister Rod Dreher is not running.

I include this tweet because I figure there was roughly as much of a chance of my becoming president as there was for David French. What’s more, I would have made a great president. My running mate was a chubby cat named “Sprinkles,” who wears cool sunglasses and fights crime. And the first thing in our platform was making sure every last American had access to free cinnamon rolls. FOR LIFE. Unfortunately we ran out of the $28 in our campaign fund pretty quickly by spending it on Chipotle and catnip. Sorry to those of you believed in a bspencer/Sprinkles candidacy. Maybe in 2020.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Cuomo

[ 99 ] June 6, 2016 |

BenjaminNetanyahu

Um:

The governor, who visited Israel in 2014, said he personally saw miles of sophisticated tunnels dug by terrorists to transport weapons.

“This just shows the determination, the single-mindedness, that these are people who are bent on destroying Israel. That is their purpose,” he said, adding, “How can you have a disproportionate response when you are dealing with an enemy who is obsessed and single-minded? By definition you can’t be disproportionate.

The idea that nothing Israel has done in response to terrorist threats has been disproportionate is, to put it mildly, hard to defend. The idea that nothing it could possibly ever do could be disproportionate…well, res ipsa loquitur.

Beer City, USA

[ 150 ] June 5, 2016 |

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I appreciate Serious Eats putting together a city beer brawl, so various cities’ partisans can fight it out publicly. But if you are going to do it, can we be serious about it? Other than the obvious answer being Portland, if you want to vote for Denver, Asheville, San Diego, or Burlington, that’s fine, you can make a case. But New York? Are you serious? The justification seems to be literally “we have a few good breweries here but we get lots of beer from other, better, cities and then you can take the subway home.” And while I respect that last point, good public transportation does not a good beer city make. At best, New York is an average beer city, but clearly well below Seattle and Chicago and probably below Cleveland and Minneapolis-St. Paul, at the very least. And as for Tampa being on the list, I have no idea. Cigar City is pretty good and I confess I haven’t had any of the other breweries. So who knows, maybe it is! But if I was going to go with a dark horse, Grand Rapids is a much more plausible choice.

…Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune worried that Minnesota might have too much craft beer. In a related story, Minnesotans are a bunch of Lutherans who have to create pointless things to worry about.

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