Monday, April 23, 2018

The Duce opposes birth control

I missed this last month.

Trump's massive hypocrisy is just beyond anything.

The Trump Administration’s Backward Attitude Toward Birth Control

[T]he Trump administration appeared to accept the conservatives’ retrograde thinking with a recent announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Population Affairs outlining its priorities for awarding Title X grants. 

Alarmingly, unlike previous funding announcements, the document makes zero reference to contraception. 

In setting its standards for grants, it disposes of nationally recognized clinical standards, developed with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that have long been guideposts for family planning. 

Instead, the government says it wants to fund “innovative” services and emphasizes “fertility awareness” approaches, which include the so-called rhythm method. 

These have long been preferred by the religious right, but are notoriously unreliable.

The announcement also says the government will look to fund programs that involve parents or guardians in minors’ family planning decisions, and get spouses involved, with no mention of privacy. 

And the announcement suggests that the government wants to promote abstinence until marriage.

This is not a surprise, given who is in charge of the Trump administration’s Title X office — Valerie Huber, a longtime advocate of abstinence-until-marriage education programs, which are generally considered to be less effective than comprehensive efforts. 

Ms. Huber landed that post in January, after the resignation of Teresa Manning, who vocally opposes abortion and contraception. 

The new funding announcement is in keeping with the Trump administration’s thwarted attempt last year to roll back the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that employer-sponsored health insurance policies cover contraception.

Advocates for women’s health care are angered by this attack on their work.

Mileage still sucks and it takes hours to recharge

Places to recharge are very few and far between, and the price of the car is still actually more than three times what you pay, the rest being subsidized by government.

Electric cars are still not the answer they may be, some day.

Could Saudi plans for $100/ barrel oil hugely expand electric car market and save Tesla?

Naked shooter in the Tennessee Waffle House

‘No credible sightings’ of Waffle House shooting suspect as manhunt continues, police say

Police continued their intensive search Monday for the 29-year-old suspected of opening fire at a Tennessee Waffle House and killing four people one day earlier.

The Metro Nashville Police Department said early Monday that “there have been no credible sightings” of the suspected gunman, Travis Reinking, after an overnight search by local, state and federal law enforcement officers. 

Reinking, police said, was last seen Sunday morning behind his apartment complex.

. . . .

Months before Reinking became the target of a manhunt, authorities arrested him for trying to breach a barrier near the White House and later seized his guns.

Among the four weapons they took from Reinking was the AR-15 semi­automatic rifle that police say he used in the Waffle House on Sunday. 

One of the other weapons — a pistol — is missing from Reinking’s apartment, police said.

Reinking was trying to meet President Trump when he attempted to cross a security barrier at the White House complex in July, federal authorities said. 

After an investigation by the FBI office in Springfield, Ill. — near where Reinking lived at the time — state and local officials confiscated Rein­king’s guns and revoked his firearm license.

The guns, however, were later returned to Reinking’s father, who has acknowledged he gave them back to his son, officials said.

Under Illinois law, certain confiscated guns can be released to a family member, but Reinking could not lawfully possess the weapons in that state. It’s unclear whether possessing the weapons was illegal in Tennessee.

. . . .

Authorities say the gunman, wearing nothing but a green jacket, opened fire at the Waffle House restaurant in Antioch, Tenn., a suburb southeast of Nashville, just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

He had been sitting in his pickup truck at the Waffle House for a few minutes, looking around, before he got out and immediately began shooting at customers in the parking lot, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said.

The man kept shooting as he walked inside, shattering the restaurant’s glass windows. 

At one point, he stopped, presumably to reload. 

That’s when police say a customer, James Shaw Jr., lunged at the gunman, wrestled the weapon away from him and tossed it over the counter.

. . . .

The gunman fled the scene, cursing, Shaw said. 

Police said he took off the only article of clothing he was wearing less than a block from the restaurant. 

Two magazines were found in the jacket’s pockets.

. . . .

“You balance the rights of people to have this privacy, but on the other hand, there needs to be a coordinated effort, especially in terms of mental health issues, to make sure that weapons don’t fall into their hands,” Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson told reporters at a news conference Sunday. 

He added that police suspect mental issues may have played a role in the Waffle House shooting, although the motive remains unknown.

Ya think?

USA Today says he's a "sovereign citizen".

Perfect.

Odd. At least.

Stein relates he killed three men and thought so little of it he went off chasing a butterfly.

Indeed, he gloats in retrospect he had annoyed the enemy who sent them.

Make of that what you can.

Lord Jim.

All the same, Stein is wonderful.

About romantics.

And about missed opportunities.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Marlow on crime

The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind, and from that point of view he was no mean traitor [.]

Marlow, about Jim, chapter 14, Lord Jim.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Poor pursued Hillary

‘They Were Never Going to Let Me Be President’

Speaking of the Electoral College, no doubt, since she won the majority of voters by some three to five millions.

Robby Mook, the drained and deflated campaign manager, told his boss she was going to lose. 

She didn’t seem all that surprised.

“I knew it. I knew this would happen to me,” she said, now within a couple of inches of Mr. Mook’s ashen face. 

“They were never going to let me be president.”

But nope.

I figured that if anyone knew whom Mrs. Clinton was referring to with that insidious “they” that, like some invisible army of adversaries (real and imagined), wielded its collective power and caused her to lose the most winnable presidential election in modern history, it was me.

They were the vast-right wing conspiracy. 

They were the patriarchy that could never let an ambitious former first lady finally shatter “that highest, hardest glass ceiling.” 

They were the people of Wisconsin and James Comey. 

They were white suburban women who would rather vote for a man who bragged about sexual assault than a woman who seemed an affront to who they were.

And yes, they were political reporters (“big egos and no brains,” she called us) hounding her about her emails and transfixed by the spectacle of the first reality TV show candidate.

. . . .

I’ve started to see the “they” she spoke about on election night differently.

They were Facebook algorithms and data breaches. 

They were Fake News drummed up by Vladimir Putin’s digital army. 

They were shadowy hackers who stole her campaign chairman’s emails hoping to weaken our democracy with Mr. Podesta’s risotto recipe. 

And they were The Times and me and all the other journalists who covered those stolen emails.

Of course, these outside forces wouldn’t have mattered or weighed so heavily on me, on the country, had Hillary Clinton, her campaign and her longtime aides — the same box of broken toys who’d enabled all of her worst instincts since the 1990s — not let the election get so close in the first place. 

The Russians, after all, didn’t hack into her calendar and delete the Wisconsin rallies.

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Unthinkable" on Netflix

The argument from The Bomb, acted out on screen.

This is by no means the only movie to depict government officials dealing with a criminal who has done something or is about to do something that will result in the death of at least one innocent victim, and finding they can only save the prospective victim or victims by torturing the criminal for information.

Child abusers who have kidnapped children hidden somewhere.

Serial killers who have a kidnapped girl buried alive, about to run out of air.

You know the genre.

So, of course, they do it.

They use torture and find the children or the buried girl.

Or the nukes.

Remember Jack Bauer of 24?

And few in any audience object, that I know of.

The point is not to punish the criminal.

The point is not to obtain evidence for use in a trial.

The point is to prevent the criminal killing innocents, to save the prospective victims.

Think on the analogy of an active school shooter.

May police - or for that matter any armed passers-by - shoot to kill to stop or prevent such slaughter?

You bet.

May they do whatever else may be needful, provided they don't harm innocent people?

Yeah, pretty much.

Legally, use of torture to find the victims or find the bombs may not be in the same boat as use of force to stop an active shooter.

All the same, I'm not only OK with it, I would do it myself.

But I'm sure there are well trained people who would do a better job.

And interesting story more about the DSA than the Democratic Party

And about the apparently increasingly popular fantasy of democratic socialism, by which the Gene Debs/Michael Harrington tradition means public ownership of most, or at least "the towering heights", of the means of production, brought about and surviving under a normal democracy committed to civil liberties and human rights.

Though support for so tame a Utopia is by no means universal among DSA members, and never was, part of the membership being considerably further left than the name of the organization would reveal.

‘Yes, I’m Running as a Socialist.’ Why Candidates Are Embracing the Label in 2018

There was no question on primary night in Texas last month that Franklin Bynum would win the Democratic nomination to become a criminal court judge in Houston. 

The 34-year-old defense attorney had no challengers.

But for his supporters who packed into a Mexican restaurant that evening, there was still something impressive to celebrate. 

Many in the crowd were members of the Democratic Socialists of America, or D.S.A., a group that has experienced an enormous surge of interest since the election of President Trump, even in conservative states. 

And Mr. Bynum was one of their own — a socialist who, along with at least 16 others, appeared on the ballot in primary races across the state of Texas.

“Yes, I’m running as a socialist,” Mr. Bynum said. 

“I’m a far-left candidate. What I’m trying to do is be a Democrat who actually stands for something, and tells people, ‘Here’s how we are going to materially improve conditions in your life.’”

Rather than shy away from being called a socialist, a word conservatives have long wielded as a slur, candidates like Mr. Bynum are embracing the label. 

He is among dozens of D.S.A. members running in this fall’s midterms for offices across the country at nearly every level. 

In Hawaii, Kaniela Ing, a state representative, is running for Congress. 

Gayle McLaughlin, a former mayor of Richmond, Calif., is running to be the state’s lieutenant governor. 

In Tennessee, Dennis Prater, an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University, is running to be a county commissioner.

Supporters, many of them millennials, say they are drawn by D.S.A.’s promise to combat income inequality, which they believe is tainting every facet of American life, from the criminal justice system to medical care to politics. 

They argue that capitalism has let them down, saddling them with student debt, high rent and uncertain job prospects. 

And they have been frustrated by the Democratic Party, which they say has lost touch with working people.

. . . .

Since November 2016, D.S.A.’s membership has increased from about 5,000 to 35,000 nationwide. 

The number of local groups has grown from 40 to 181, including 10 in Texas. 

Houston’s once-dormant chapter now has nearly 300 members.

. . . .

Studies suggest that young people with few memories of the Cold War embrace socialism far more than older people do. 

A 2016 survey of 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that 16 percent identified as socialists, while 33 percent supported socialism. 

Only 42 percent supported capitalism, while a majority — 51 percent — said they did not.

Those results surprised John Della Volpe, the institute’s director of polling, so much that he thought they might be a mistake. 

He conducted a new study, this time of the general population, and got the same result.

. . . .

“The only group that expressed net positive support for capitalism were people over 50 years old,” he said. 

“The largest generation of Americans in history — millennials — have lost confidence. They are interested in finding a better way.”

Many socialist candidates sound less like revolutionaries and more like traditional Democrats who seek a return to policies in the mold of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. 

They want single-payer health care, a higher minimum wage, and greater protections for unions. 

But others advocate more extreme changes, such as abolishing the prison system.

. . . .

D.S.A., despite its criticism of the Democratic Party, does not identify itself as a third party. 

Instead, many members work within the party’s progressive wing to support their goals.

“Diversity helps the party,” said Christine Pelosi, a California member of the Democratic National Committee who has focused on making the party more connected to grass-roots activists. 

“I welcome their constructive criticism.”

Many Democrats have begun to ask socialists for their support and adopt some of the D.S.A.’s platform on health care and pay.

In Pittsburgh, eight Democrats in this year’s midterm cycle sought the endorsement of the local D.S.A. chapter.

“People are more willing to come out and say ‘I’m a Democratic socialist running,’” said Jorge Roman-Romero, 24, who helps lead a new D.S.A. chapter in Tulsa, Okla., where six Democratic candidates — four of whom were willing to run as Democratic socialists — sought the group’s endorsement. “It’s not a liability to say that anymore.”

. . . .

Acceptance of socialism today still falls far short of its heyday in the 1910s and 1920s, when the Socialist Party of America had over 113,000 members and more than 1,000 elected officials, including two members of Congress, according to Jack Ross, author of “The Socialist Party of America: A Complete History.”

By the 1950s, socialism was widely seen as antithetical to the American way of life. 

In 1982, Michael Harrington, author of “The Other America,” a seminal book about poverty, helped found the Democratic Socialists of America, which aimed to realign the Democratic Party toward increased protections for unions and the poor. But the group never gained much traction, until now.

Their fault, not his

It is completely their fault that he jumped, and not his, says Jim.

Chapter 10.

Lord Jim.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Not so fast, my utilitarian friend

Societies A and B have the same population size at any given time.

In society A, people live for an average of 75 years.

In society B, people live for 35 years and are then killed by the government to make room for more young people.

Because younger people are happier than older people, the average utility of people living in society B is greater than that of people living in society A, though the utility of people in society A is generally positive throughout their lives.

And for the first 35 years of their lives, persons in society A are as happy as persons in society B.

So the total, lifelong happiness of people in society A is greater than the total, lifelong happiness of people in society B.

And no one in society A is deprived of a future they have every expectation would be happy by their government.

Egoists in the Original Position would surely choose A over B.

It is not true, as some utilitarian critics of Rawls claimed from the first, that each of us in such a position could be confident that the greater the average utility of the whole population the greater our own expectations.